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Artist Details

Bettie Cilliers Barnard


Betties Cilliers-Barnard, born in 1914 began her exploration of non-figurative forms in 1957. Before then, she had been concerned at first with descriptive delineation of her subjects, later with analysis of the formal values of objective images.

Bettie was an artist who searched ceaselessly for creative ways to express her sense of the underlying, intangible harmony of life. Coming from a literary background and trained as a teacher, she decided to pursue art studies seriously when she was in her early thirties, travelling to both Antwerp and Paris, where she studied under Andre Lhote. Since then, she held 53 solo exhibitions in 41 years. Cilliers-Barnard was one of the first South African Artists to abandon representation for a totally non-figurative or abstract idiom, along with Nel Erasmus and Douglas Owen Portway.

Bettie Cilliers-Barnard is one of South Africa\'s most under estimated artists. If one looks at our History of Art and the role that she played in establishing and helping various young artists and her overall worldwide exposure during a time when only a few of our artists ventured outside the country, one can not help but to place her between the top achievers. She has worked consistently all this time and is part of an unique group of artists who even in 1959 had an exhibition of non-figurative art which was rather progressive for the time. She comes from the same era as some of our greatest old masters but was so futuristic in her style that she never got the recognition she deserved.

" For Bettie painting becomes a glorious adventure of something that takes place under the guidance of the inner impulse. This process of painting resembles the organic growth of a plant. It is a process of slow growth, which begins from the first line or touch of colour put down on the canvas " G.P.J. Trumplemann, Opening of exhibition 17-05-1965 )

Bettie Cilliers Barnard