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Life, Distilled – 17 September- 10 October 2015

Life, Distilled

17 September- 10 October 2015

Each of us experiences life in an indelibly unique way- and we capture and communicate our experiences just as uniquely. Some capture their experiences in paint, photographs or penned words on paper, distilling life down to the most absolute essence. For some it is a moment of exquisite joy they capture. For some, despair and disappointment. For others, they ask question about life and its meaning- while for others again, their distillations of life attempt an answer.

“We do not remember days, we remember moments”

Have a He{art}


We’re excited to announce our Online He{art} Auction which we’re hosting to boost KIN Culture‘s online exposure, support opportunities and funding!


Absolut Art Gallery's Online Art Exhibition for KIN Culture


KIN Culture is no ordinary ‘children’s home‘ but a groundbreaking new concept in helping orphaned and vulnerable children:

KIN Culture is a faith-based organisation where orphans and vulnerable children are given a home and a bright future. We believe that a safe environment and a family atmosphere are crucial to every child’s development. KIN Culture will operate as a village.

Every child will be placed in a loving home with parents and siblings. Children will have access to world class opportunities and facilities through means of education, sport, culture and a community of activities. We will build a self-sustainable village that will be a model of excellence and community life.

Orphans and vulnerable children are a real issue in South Africa and the world. At KIN Culture we believe that collaboration between government, business and church could become a real solution for the plight of orphans and vulnerable children in South Africa and the world.


Be part of this exciting chance to make a truly he{art}felt difference to the lives of these children and those who are investing their love, time and hope into these precious little people → Join hands with KIN Culture and us on Facebook and stay up to speed with what we hope will be a wonderfully successful fundraiser!





Absolut Art's Gallery's Art Auction of South African Art for KIN Culture


Galleries: The Fine Art of Business

{ STAYING SOCIAL } Facebooking, Blogging & Educating!

As a business based on the marriage between tradition and creative, contemporary innovation, we make sure we continually evolve alongside current cultural and technological trends – which is why we are hatching a new look and approach to showcasing South African art online!


Julian Motau - South African Artist - Township Art - Apartheid Era - Absolut Art Gallery


One of our responsibilities as a gallery is to continue the celebration and honouring of our South African art heritage, and also providing rich educational resources online – for art lovers, art collectors and young art students alike. This is why we keep our Facebook page fresh with current art news and interesting posts about both old masters and contemporary artists. This is also why we’ve now added a Blog section to our website for you!
We are also updating all of our artist CVs to include videos, podcasts, interviews and more! Have a look at Julian Motau‘s CV and tell us what you think on our Facebook page. We invite you to share any facts, photos or intriguing snippets of information with us on Facebook which we can then add to the artists’ CVs!



We leave you with a moving tribute to Julian Motau after he was assassinated, shot from the back: ‘En Skielik is dit Aand‘ by South African composer Hendrik Hofmeyr, inspired by poet, Wilhelm Knobel:

Irma the Rebel, Irma the Red

Letters from the Artist 

Absolut Art Gallery - Irma Stern's Letters

Irma Stern is perhaps the absolute epitome of South Africa’s presence within the European movement of avant garde. (Read her biography here.)

As promised, we’re going to be looking at Irma Stern’s letters and how they revealed a dislocated and magnificent turbulence of the heart — reminiscent of Van Gogh’s experience of life, love, art and identity.
Stern’s identity can perhaps painted as a dichotomy of black and white, torn as she was between her deep identification with the Africa of her birth, and her European heritage as a German Jew.

This prolific letter writer was (in a sweet serendipity) born in a post office, deep in the Northern Province of South Africa. When she was three years old, her father was incarcerated by the British for his pro-Boer perspectives, and Stern’s mother whisked her two young children away to Germany until his release. With the explosion of World War 1, the family returned to Germany yet again, where Stern confessed to having felt trapped, cloistered, claustrophic and dislocated.

“… this divided upbringing leaves one with the feeling of belonging to nowhere.” 

Upon returning more definitively to South Africa as her true home, Stern’s avant garde Expressionism caused an uproar across the country, with a police investigation triggered by charges of alleged immorality surrounding her 1922 exhibition. Nothing, however, could break this strong woman’s fierce and passionate independence, and she diligently transgressed the conservative cliches of what it meant to be an artist and woman in South Africa. She travelled prolifically. She worked like a man. And in her own words:

“My appearance is that of a well-dressed lady, but inwardly I run more and more wild.”  

With a dogged ferocity that was then considered unfeminine, she closed herself up in her studio – coffee and cigarettes her only sustenance – and worked for days. She ran her business solely on her own: framing her paintings, packaging them and arranging sales. However, beneath this almost rebellious strength, was a highly sensitive, compassionate and humble heart which carried within itself raw wounds of pain, tragedy and grief. Excerpts from letters to her friends paint an emotionally evocative picture of her.
To her friend Max Pechstein, she wrote:

“You have made me so contented, so eager to work and happy, with a few words you cast down all the dark hours of despair and inner conflict.”  And after her first solo show: “I really can’t tell you over the telephone how grateful I am to you for all the good things you have done for me! I am truly always aware of it – how wonderfully you have helped me along – how you showed me what is true and good in my work and what is empty phrasing, and then how you have helped me with other people, have smoothed the path for me. For I know what human impediments you have cleared from my way through your interest in my work!”

(In a tender gesture of grateful reciprocation, Stern sent Pechstein food parcels during the war.)

After the war, she vowed never to return to Germany, writing to her childhood friend, Trude Bosse, 

“I have buried the past … It hurts more than one thinks. A country, its well-disposed people – all of this into a mass grave. Everything that comes from Germany is like a bygone century to me, like the echo of a sunken world.”

Art historians and theorists have judged, some harshly  and some more compassionately, Stern’s character, identity and heart – like Neville Dubow and Marion Arnold who said Stern was “quite highly talented, though sexually frustrated, emotionally drained, humanely ambivalent, politically disinterested and suspect.” And that her work was “the vent of a physically unattractive, unloved and unhappy woman” Perhaps more realistically, German curator Irene Below acknowleged Stern as “a sensitive, acutely observant, qualified artist who, from childhood, came to grips with her life and her experiences in two extremely different worlds.” 

Her boldly vibrant and exuberant colours antithetically mirror her dirtier, mournful colours  — like a self-portrait. Unlike her South African and European contemporaries who painted portraits of themselves in abundance (like Vincent Van Gogh, Paul Gaugin and Frida Kahlo) Stern declined. Why? 

We’ll be talking about this enigma of a woman on our Facebook page – and would love to hear what you think the answer might be. Click here to join the conversation!



  • Google “Beyond Black and White: Rethinking Irma Stern by Claudia B Braude” for deeper insights into Irma Stern’s life and work.
  • And click here to read more about her by acclaimed UCT art academic, Clive Kellner.

Group Exhibition from 19/11 – 19/12

Group Exhibition from 19/11 – 19/12

Monday, November 15, 2010

Absolut Art Gallery will be hosting a group exhibition from 19/11 to 19/12 with Pieter Uitlander, San-Mare Raubenheimer and Rache Gerber.