01 December 2023 – 18 February 2024
Oliewenhuis Art Museum, Main Building

Walter Meyer, Township, Luderitz, 2004, Oil on canvas, 55.5 x 70 cm

Creatively Contrasted: New Views on the Permanent Collection is a curated exhibition from the Permanent Collection housed at Oliewenhuis Art Museum, an art museum committed to building a representative collection of South African visual art. Artworks with contrasting aspects such as the oldest and the ‘youngest’ artwork in the collection, were selected to give a fresh perspective on the collection and pay tribute to the incredible richness of South African visual art.

1st Donation and 1st Acquisitions.

Oliewenhuis Art Museum officially opened on 11 October 1989 and the first donation received was Dorte Berner’s, Das Kranke Kind (1981) in 1990, an etching in sepia on paper.
The first artworks were purchased from Gallery 21 in Johannesburg. These artworks were Norman Catherine’s Ritual (1985), pastel on paper, Eduardo Villa’s Torso (1968) in bronze and Ezrom Legae’s Head of a Wise man (n.d.) in bronze.

Oldest artworks and most recently acquired and created artworks in the collection.

The oldest artworks in the collection are three oil-on-canvas paintings by Thomas Baines. Bloemfontein about 1850, was donated by the Bloemfontein Municipality in 1990. This painting was originally purchased by the City Council in 1958 from Eric Bonner, a bookseller in London. Bloemfontein vanaf Naval Hill 1851, was also donated by the Bloemfontein Municipality. In the background of the painting, a small bag houses a piece of linen on which the words “Bloemfontein the Capital of the Orange River Sovereignty……Ma 23 1851” is featured. Uitsig oor Bloemfontein 1850, was donated to the National Museum, Bloemfontein in 1924 by Mr. Geo Page. This work was painted on a sturdy striped fabric Ticking, which was traditionally used to cover pillows and mattresses, because its tight weave prevented feathers from sticking through the fabric.

Oliewenhuis Art Museum’s most recent acquisitions and recently created artworks include artworks by living legends Mam Noria Mabasa and Dr Esther Mahlangu. Born from Fire, an exceptional sculptural masterpiece by Mam Noria Mabasa, was purchased in 2019 and a painting, Ndebele Abstract by Dr Esther Mahlangu in 2021.

Artworks acquired in the last five years also include paintings by Free State artists, Richard Bollers and Klas Thibeletsa. In 2020, as part of the first Presidential Employment Stimulus Programme funded by the Department of Sport, Art and Culture, three Free State woodcarvers were commissioned to carve two large pieces of dried out Wild Olive Wood in situ at the Sculpture Garden of Oliewenhuis Art Museum. Sefate sa dipale tsa Africa (a tale about an African Tree) was carved by Hartman Magasi, David Molapisi and Moeketsi Bernett Phalatsane. This artwork was officially added to the Permanent Collection in February 2023.

Clare Menck, Death and the sculptor (George Ramagaga), 2006, Oil on canvas, 50 x 65 cm

Depictions of artworks by artists and some of their artworks.

While planning the exhibition, we noticed that we have several self-portraits and portraits by artists in the collection of fellow artists. These self-portraits and portraits are displayed alongside related artworks.

Examples of these include Walter Meyer’s oil paintings; Selfportret (2009) and Township Luderitz (2004).

Stefan Ampenberger and his wife Iris Ampenberger befriended the well-known artist Father Frans Claerhout after settling in Tweespruit, close to Bloemfontein. Stefan was a painter of landscapes, while Iris painted people and portraits. On display are four of her portraits, one of Father Frans Claerhout and two of her husband and a self-portrait.

Other contrasting artworks such as the largest and the smallest artwork or out of the ordinary artworks such as artworks created by more than one artist, were also included to encourage visitors to explore and enjoy a bit of South Africa’s rich and varied visual art history and to learn about our heritage.

Oliewenhuis Art Museum is located at 16 Harry Smith Street, Bloemfontein. It is open to the public from Monday to Friday between 08:00 and 17:00, and on Saturdays, Sundays, and public holidays between 09:00 and 16:00. R10 parking fee will be charged but entrance to the museum is free.

Walter Meyer, Selfportrait, 2009, Oil on canvas, 50.5 x 40 cm

For more information on Oliewenhuis Art Museum please contact the Museum at 084 714 9083 or oliewen@nasmus.co.za. Stay up to date by following Oliewenhuis Art Museum on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter for all upcoming exhibitions and events.

Edoardo Villa, Torso, 1968, Bronze, 40 x 20 x 24 cm


Ezrom Legae, Head of a wise man, n.d., Bronze 3/5, 34 x 12 x 17 cm

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