Frans David Oerder is another South African painter in a long line of great artists to come from the Southern tip of Africa. In Oerder’s case his contribution is visible in both his art and the learnings that he could pass on to other artists.
Frans was born in the Dutch port city of Rotterdam in 1867. His father, Johannes Carolus Oerder, was a municipal worker who also had seven other children. As is often the case, a career as an artist was not the career choice that Oerder senior would have made for his son. However he was willing to compromise and allowed Frans to train as a decorator.
In 1880 he enrolled at the Rotterdam academy of art where he eventually completed his training as an art decorator by 1885, one year prior to the actual end date of his course. His efforts did not go unnoticed and he became a very worthy recipient of the King William III gold medal and bursary. This accolade presented the new graduate with more opportunities. Things were going well for this new aspiring artist.
Frans Oerder embarked on travels to Italy followed by a move to Brussels to study at Ernest Blanc-Garin’s newly formed art academy. This move provided him one of his last opportunities at formal education before embarking on the balancing act of being a professional artist and putting food on the table.
His next step was moving to South Africa, literally the other side of the world. This would become his new home and while his experience of life as an artist had started in his homeland he would now have new challenges to face.
The wandering mind of Walter Battiss made him one of the unique characters of his time. He had an almost unusual interest in African art, ranging from Ndebele artwork to Bushman rock art. Some commentators attribute his eccentric style to the influence of his friendship with Picasso in the 1950s.
He was a founding member of The New Group, a collective of young South African artists who set out to explore fresh ideas in art and explore new frontiers. A large number of this group had been studying in Europe at the time and their arrival in their motherland left them disillusioned with the conservative culture surrounding South African art. This group enjoyed a tenure of about 10 – 12 years after which it was disbanded as a result of being institutionalised. It was in this period of time that he released his first book, ‘The Amazing Bushman’.
The Walter Battiss Company notes that it was 1955 when the started experimenting with calligraphic art and evidence of human and animal abstractions became evident. It was about this time when Ndebele art became a prominent feature of his artworks.
The early 60s saw his curiousity soar to new heights as his interest in Islamic culture took him on several trips to Central Africa and the Middle-East. One might surmise that this was the period of time that he wanted to explore the rest of the world. Towards the end of that decade he made numerous trips to the north; including Greece in 1968 and Seychelles in 1972. Walter Battiss traveled to many other parts of the world as well, including Hawaii, Zanzibar, Fiji and Madagascar.
Walter Battiss was an influencer and innovator. He had a special interest in man and his environment. His impact on many young artists and the South African art scene remains as valuable as the art he left behind.
distilled into a single moment: captured on canvas, by lens, in wood.
Roberts Hodgins | Frans Oerder | Tinus de Jongh | J. E. A. Volschenk | Piet van Heerden | Adriaan Boshoff | Pieter Bauermeister | Edward Roworth | Lisa Roberts | Robert Gwelo Goodman | Louis Maqhubela | Sydney Kumalo | Thijs Nel | Daniel Rakgoathe | Nat Mokgosi | Erik Laubscher | Zakkie Eloff | Stanley Pinker
Each of us experiences life in an indelibly unique way – and we capture and communicate our experiences just as uniquely. Some capture 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 others, despair and disappointment. For some, they ask questions about life and its meaning – while for others again, their distillations of life attempt an answer.
“We do not remember days, we remember moments.” ~ Cesare Pavese
Life, Distilled seeks to shift your gaze away from the constant clutter of our lives, and block out the noise so our ears can hear our own true heartbeat. Each work presented is an opportunity to leave the toil and hassle behind you and return to simplicity, purity and clarity.