2 November 2022 – 2 February 2023
Sanlam Art Gallery Bellville, Cape Town


Consisting of more than 2000 artworks viewing the Sanlam Art Collection can take a very long time. Being spread across Sanlam’s office environments across the country also means that one must travel a bit. Although Bellville may be another country for the average Capetonian, a visit to the only publicly accessible corporate art collection in the Western Cape may prove well worth a visit.

“Sights Unseen” the current exhibition at the Sanlam Art Gallery in Bellville, showcases new acquisitions to the collection on show for the first time and hidden “gems” not seen in the gallery for many years as these works have been in office environments, inaccessible to the general public.


Helmut Starcke | Dreams and Nightmares, 2004



A new acquisition of significance by the young emerging artist from Johannesburg, Frans Thoka, is a particularly striking rendition of a landscape of what appears to be ploughed land. Intriguing is the use of grey, “prison blanket” as the support enhancing the metaphoric import of combination of land and blanket. At more than 2 metres high and 3 m wide, the painting towers over the more sedate, conventional landscapes on show by Thomas Baines and Hugo Naude. But this is just the beginning of an extended art historical narrative of landscape painting in South Africa on exhibition. Four large-scale paintings by Helmut Starckee cover three large walls of the gallery with impressive showcasing, this much-underappreciated artist’s talent to combine
design, fantasy and reality into a potent mixture that tugs emotionally to one’s experience of colour and the transition of landscape from the cracked mud dry riverbed to an efflorescent composition of colours. Alongside these also hang significant early paintings by Nigel Mullins revealing how the idea of landscape can be manipulated to represent a diversity of narratives in one space.

Nigel Mullins | Scattered, 1998


Little though matches the punchy colour and astute composition of a selection of early paintings by Maggie Laubser shown in series. The resonances of emotional content of the three paintings provide an insight into the inner life of a turn-of-the-century women artist who was embarking on a very new adventure in art.


Laubser-Maggie, Sunover Lake Gardan, circa 1920, oil on board


Maggie Laubser | Lake with Mount Pizzicola, 1921, oil on board


In stark contrast to these lyric and expressive pieces, one is confronted with the optophonetic and concrete poetry of Willem Boshoff. A selection of four early, 1980s produced, Kykafrikaans prints were acquired in 2022. These visual and conceptual mind twisters require a little time to be appreciated.
A little effort and closer looking will bring some enlightening revelations and to any conscientious viewer. A QR code on the label provide additional information on the artist and sound scape of the two of the poems performed.

Other works represented in the exhibition are by Karel Nel, Wayne Barker, Erkia Hibbert, Julio Tambellini, Walter Battiss, William Kentridge Deborah Bell, Robert Hodgins, Pranas Domsaitis, Osiah Masekoameng, Günther van der Reis, Moses Kottler, Wim Blom, Blessing Ngobeni, Simon Lekgetho, Lyness Magwaza and Helen Sebidi.


The exhibition is rounded off on the mezzanine floor with a selection of smaller figurative sculptures ranging from the delicate, tightly observed presentations by Anton van Wouw and Hendrik Nkhofe, Moses Kottler, through the expressive carvings of Lippy Lipschitz, George Ramagaga, Stanley Nkosi and Albert Dasheka, to the lyrical abstractions of Edoardo Villa, Bill Davis and Frieda Ollemans

For more information or to book a tour of the exhibition and storage facility with the curator call 021 947 3359 / sanlamart@sanlam.co.za.
Gallery hours: Monday to Friday 09:00 – 16:30.


Havenga Marnus | Interior, charcoal on paper




Wayne Barker | His and Hers, 2002




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