Bettie Cilliers-Barnard

(1914 - 2010)

About

"I paint because I cannot neglect to paint. The urge to create stems from the search for contact with humankind, with nature and with the Supreme Being. Artistic expression reflects what is true and authentic in life. Art is universal.” Bettie Cilliers-Barnard.

Born in the small town of Rustenburg in the North West Province of South Africa, Bettie Cilliers-Barnard (born Barnard) began her artistic career seriously in her early thirties following a background of teaching and a preliminary interest and basic studies in art. Cilliers-Barnard furthered her studies from Pretoria in art by traveling to Antwerp in Belgium, attending the Opsomer School in 1948 and then studied under André Lhote in Paris.

From an early point in Cilliers-Barnard’s career as an artist she has been philosophical involved, to a point of preoccupation, with the principles of ‘light’ and ‘shade’ in contrast in her works. These are used as metaphors for life and eternity and in her early explorations in technique and form became, along with Douglas Portway, Joan Clare and Nel Erasmus, one of South Africa’s earliest abstract painters in the late 1950s, investigating a new manner of work that existed separately to all other art practices being developed in the country at the time. In this new experimental phase, it was easy to fall into a habit of ‘pattern-making’ in abstract works, but Cilliers-Barnard forced her way through this by her continual return to studying in order to progress her ideas both in method and in theory. She returned to Europe, studying again in Paris under Stanley Hayter followed by working in the Parisian graphic workshop of Jean-Paul Pons, which she returned to many times between 1956 and 1981.

Many of Cilliers-Barnard’s abstract compositions that she continued throughout the 1960s incorporate circles, a shape which is imbedded with symbolism and reflects the source that is fundamental to Cilliers-Barnard’s point of focus in regard to her exploration of ‘light’, that being the sun. Cilliers-Barnard is quoted by Muller Ballot in explaining, “the sun happened to have the perfect geometrical form of the circle. Satisfying in the world of ideas, satisfying in the struggle for arresting and ‘complete’ composition.”(Bettie Cilliers-Barnard. Towards Infinity. 2006:137) 

By the early 1970s Cilliers-Barnard shifted her focus onto the theme of ‘man’ as an element of society and as an individual in order to further explore her interest in life and eternity. Returning from her fourth study in Paris in 1971 she began to include figures and tangible objects into her compositions again, depicting faces which are to an extent abstracted and used to portray the ‘inner-self’ in relation to Cilliers-Barnard’s developed philosophy on the use of symbols. Cilliers-Barnard’s integration of colour isused as thebody to transcribe light and shade within all of her paintings, both figurative and non-figurative. The use of symbols are not intentionally based on a historical or literary context, but are developed as a personal representation by the artist to divulge certain elements of her own ideals and set symbols that exist as a result of her own understandings of the world. These symbols are used to suggest or evoke certain emotions or understandings and is done so almost subconsciously by Cilliers-Barnard. 

Cilliers-Barnard’s extensive life means that she has been witness to a great deal of the last century’s artistic developments in South Africa. The extraordinary journey of her life has exposed her to the various inspirations, both physical and philosophical, that have surrounded her in both her homeland and in the world. Her devoted involvement in the arts both nationally and internationally is reflected in the many awards that she has received throughout her life for her own artwork and for the contributions that she has made to the global art world, substantiating her as one of South Africa’s most attributed and admired artists.

  • Chronology

    1914

    Born in Rustenburg (North-West), 18 November

    1933

    Matriculated at Hoërskool Rustenberg

    1934

    Registered for BA degree at University of Pretoria

    1935

    Registered at Normaalkollege, Pretoria

    Art Classes with Grace Anderson

    1936

    Awarded Transvaal Education Diploma by Normaalkollege, Pretoria

    1937

    Awarded BA degree by University of Pretoria

    1938-39

    Art teacher, Innesdal Intermediate School

    1939-42

    Lecturer in Art, Normaalkollege, Pretoria

    1940

    Completed second year BA (Art) degree, University of South Africa

    Part-time classes in Art (Phyllis Gardener) and Art History (Maria Stein-Lessing), Pretoria Technical College

    1940-43

    Part-time lecturer, Pretoria Art Centre

    1942

    Married Carl Hancke (Bags) Cilliers, 19 December

    1943-44

    Painted in the company of Madame ML Stradiot-Bougnet, Pretoria

    1946

    Birth of son Wimcar, 9 August

    First Solo exhibition, Extramural Building, University of Pretoria

    1948

    Studied in Belgium and France: Koninklijke Academie voor Schone Kunsten en de Hogere Instituten, Antwerp, under Professor Julien Creytens (April-June) and Atelier André Lhote, Paris (July=November)

    1949

    Elected to Management Committee, South African Association of Arts (Northern Transvaal), Pretoria

    1950

    Birth of daughter, Jana, 5 June

    1956

    Second period of study in Paris: Atelier 17 (Stanley William Hayter) and Atelier Jean-Paul Pons (August-December)

    1961-62

    Member of Executive Committee, South African Council of Artists

    1964

    Brief study trip to Portugal, Spain, Belgium, Austria and France

    Third period of study in Paris: Atelier Jean-Paul Pons (August-December)

    1967

    National Honorary Vice-President of the South African Association of Arts (life nomination)

    1971

    Fourth period of study in Paris: Atelier Jean-Paul Pons (January-March)

    1974

    SA Kunskalendar/SA Arts Calendar,November 1974, South African Association of Arts (Northern Transvaal), Pretoria, dedicated to the artist

    1981

    Fifth period of study in Paris: Atelier Jean-Paul Pons (March-May)

    1981-83

    Instrumental in obtaining work space for South African artists at the CitéInternationale des Arts, Paris, France

    1983

    Advisory Committee, Department of Public Works, Delville Wood War Memorial Museum, France

    1985

    Brief trip to Europe and the USA

    1986

    Brief trip to France

    1996

    Launch of book,Bettie Cilliers-Barnard. Bowêreldse Perspektieweby Muller Ballot, Schweickerdt Art Centre and Gallery, Pretoria

    1998

    Brief trip to Paris with daughter Jana

    1999

    Donation of three artworks, 18 albums with documentation (1946-1995) and a contribution to her bursary fund for fine arts students of the University of Pretoria

    Donation of 6 artworks to the University of Stellenbosch

    2001

    Death of husband, Bags Cilliers, 29 April

    2010

    Dies in her home in Pretoria

  • Studies

    1935

    Art Classes with Grace Anderson

    1936

    Awarded Transvaal Education Diploma by Normaalkollege, Pretoria

    1937

    Awarded BA degree by University of Pretoria

    1940

    Completed second year BA (Art) degree, University of South Africa

    Part-time classes in Art (Phyllis Gardener) and Art History (Maria Stein-Lessing), Pretoria Technical College

    1948

    Studied in Belgium and France: Koninklijke Academie voor Schone Kunsten en de Hogere Instituten, Antwerp, under Professor Julien Creytens (April-June) and Atelier André Lhote, Paris (July=November)

    1956

    Second period of study in Paris: Atelier 17 (Stanley William Hayter) and Atelier Jean-Paul Pons (August-December)

    1960

    Brief trip to Israel, Belgium and France to research tapestry art. Visits included the studios of Jean Lurcat and Picart le Doux, Paris

    1964

    Brief study trip to Portugal, Spain, Belgium, Austria and France

    Third period of study in Paris: Atelier Jean-Paul Pons (August-December)

    1971

    Fourth period of study in Paris: Atelier Jean-Paul Pons (January-March)

    1981

    Fifth period of study in Paris: Atelier Jean-Paul Pons (March-May)

  • Exhibitions

    1946

    First Solo exhibition, Extramural Building, University of Pretoria

    1948

    Solo exhibition, Christi Art Gallery, Pretoria

    1949

    Solo exhibition, Extramural Building, University of Pretoria

    Solo exhibition, Carnegie Library, University of Stellenbosch

    Solo exhibition, South African Association of Arts (Western Cape), Cape Town

    1951

    Solo exhibition, Sonop Restaurant, Bloemfontein

    Solo exhibition, Vincent Gallery, Pretoria

    1952

    Group exhibition,Van Riebeeck Tercentenary Exhibition, Cape Town

    1953

    Solo exhibition, Van Schaik Gallery, Pretoria

    Group exhibition,Rhodes Centenary Exhibition, Bulawayo, Southern Rhodesia (Zimbabwe)

    1954

    Solo exhibition, Municipal Library, Springs

    1955

    Solo exhibition, South African Association of Arts (Western Cape), Cape Town

    Solo exhibition, Lidchi Art Gallery, Johannesburg

    Group exhibition,Transvaal Art of Today,South African Association of Arts (Northern Transvaal), Pretoria

    1956

    Solo exhibition, Galerie Gérard Mourque, Paris

    Venice Biennale

    1957

    Solo exhibition, Carl Houbert Hall, Ermelo

    Solo exhibition, South African Association of Arts (Northern Transvaal), Pretoria

    São Paulo Biennale

    1958

    Solo exhibition, Lidchi Art Gallery, Johannesburg

    First International Triennial,Graphic Arts in Colour,Grenchen, Switzerland

    Group exhibition,Contemporary Transvaal Art,Rhodes National Gallery, Salisburg, Southern Rhodesia (Zimbabwe)

    1959

    Solo exhibition, Maitland Hotel, Bloemfontein

    São Paulo Biennale

    Group exhibition,Kuns 1959 Art,DS Vorster Art Gallery, Pretoria

    1960

    Solo exhibition, Lidchi Art Gallery, Johannesburg

    Solo exhibition, DS Vorster Art Gallery, Pretoria

    Group exhibition,Second Quadrennial Exhibition of South African Art, South African Association of Arts, Western Cape, Cape Town

    Group exhibition,International Guggenheim Prize Exhibition,New York, USA

    Group exhibition,South African Graphic Art,Yugoslavia

    1961

    Solo exhibition, Lidchi Art Gallery, Durban

    São Paulo Biennale

    1962

    Solo exhibition, Egon Guenther Gallery, Johannesburg

    Group exhibition,Transvaal Art of Today,South African Association of Arts (Northern Transvaal), Pretoria

    1963

    Solo exhibition, South African Association of Arts (Northern Transvaal), Pretoria

    São Paulo Biennale

    1964

    Solo exhibition, South African Association of Arts (Northern Transvaal), Pretoria

    Venice Biennale (Graphic)

    Group exhibition,International Art Exhibition,New York World’s Fair, USA

    Group exhibition,Third Quadrennial Exhibition of South African Art,South African Association of Arts (Northern Transvaal), Pretoria

    1965

    Solo exhibition, Wolpe Gallery, Cape Town

    Solo exhibition, Grosvenor House Museum, Stellenbosch

    Solo exhibition, Public Library, Worcester

    Group exhibition,Art South Africa Today,Durban Art Museum

    1966

    Retrospective exhibition 1959-66, Pretoria Art Museum (jointly with Joan Clare)

    Group exhibition,Republic Festival Exhibition,Pretoria

    Group exhibition,Inaugural exhibition,Hester Rupert Art Museum, Graaff-Reinet

    1967

    Solo exhibition, Goodman Gallery, Johannesburg

    Retrospective exhibition,A Decade in the Art of Bettie Cilliers-Barnard1957-67, South African Association of Arts (Northern Transvaal), Pretoria

    1968

    Group exhibition, ‘Present-day South African Painters’,Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, Lisbon, Portugal

    1969

    Solo exhibition, Goodman Gallery, Johannesburg

    1970

    Solo exhibition, South African Association of Arts (Northern Transvaal), Pretoria

    Group exhibition,Transvaal Artists,National Museum, Bloemfontein

    1971

    Solo exhibition, South African Tourist Bureau, London

    Solo exhibition, South African Association of Arts (Northern Transvaal), Pretoria

    Group exhibition,Republic Festival Exhibition,Cape Town

    1972

    Solo exhibition, Art History Department, Potchefstroom University for CHE

    Solo exhibition, Goodman Gallery, Johannesburg

    1973

    Solo exhibition, South African Association of Arts (Western Cape), Cape Town

    Group exhibition,South African Graphic Art,South African Association of Arts (Southern Transvaal), Johannesburg

    1974

    Solo exhibition, Galery “S”, Nelspruit

    Retropective exhibition, South African Association of Arts (Northern Transvaal), Pretoria

    (50 works, commemorating the artist’s 60thbirthday)

    Group exhibition,South African Graphic Art Exhibition,Vienna, Italy; Graz, Austria and Tel Aviv, Israel

    1975

    Solo exhibition, Goodman Gallery, Johannesburg

    Solo exhibition, US Art Gallery, Stellenbosch

    Group exhibition,South African Woman Artists,South African Association of Arts (OFS), National Museum, Bloemfontein

    1976

    Solo exhibition, Nedbank Gallery, Bloemfontein

    Solo exhibition, Nedbank Gallery, Kimberley

    Group exhibition,South African Graphic Art, Canberra, Australia

    1977

    Solo exhibition, South African Association of Arts (Northern Transvaal), Pretoria

    Group exhibition,South African Graphic Art,Bonn, Germany

    Group exhibition,South African Graphic Art, Canberra, Australia

    Group exhibition, South African Art,National Gallery, Salisbury, Rhodesia (Zimbabwe)

    1978

    Solo exhibition, Frans du Toit Building, Potchefstroom University for CHE

    Retrospective exhibition 1943-77, Art History Department, Potchefstroom University for CHE

    Retrospective exhibition of Graphics 1948-78, Van Wouw House, University of Pretoria

    Retrospective exhibition 1943-77, C R Swart Building, University of the Orange Free State, Bloemfontein

    Solo exhibition, Jack Heath Gallery, University of Natal, Pietermaritzburg

    1979

    Solo exhibition, Goodman Gallery, Johannesburg

    Group exhibition, travelling show of South African Graphic Art, West Germany

    Group exhibition, “Art in South Africa’, touring America

    1980

    Group exhibition,Art in South Africa, Germany

    1981

    Solo exhibition, SFW Wine Centre, Johannesburg

    1982

    Group exhibition,South African Graphic Art, South African Embassy, Madrid

    1983

    Solo exhibition, South African Association of Arts (Western Cape), Cape Town

    Solo exhibition, South African Association of Arts (Northern Transvaal), Pretoria

    1984

    Retrospective Exhibition 1943-84, University of Pretoria

    1985

    Solo exhibition, Potchefstroom Museum

    Solo exhibition, Goodman Gallery, Johannesburg

    1987

    Solo exhibition, Taipei Fine Arts Museum, Republic of China (Invited Artist)

    Solo exhibition, South African Association of Arts (Northern Transvaal), Pretoria

    1988

    Retrospective Exhibition 1943-87, Intersaal, University of Pretoria (58 works donated)

    Solo exhibition, Klein Galery, Rustenburg

    Solo exhibition, Art History Department, Potchefstroom University for CHE

    Group exhibition, Parisian and South African Artists, South African National Gallery, Cape Town and Johannesburg Art Gallery

    1989

    Solo exhibition, South African Association of Arts (Western Cape), Cape Town

    1990

    Solo exhibition, South African Association of Arts (Northern Transvaal), Pretoria

    1991

    Group exhibition,Young Pioneers of the 50s,Belville Art Gallery

    1992

    Solo exhibition, Goodman Gallery, Johannesburg

    Solo exhibition, South African Association of Arts (Northern Transvaal), Pretoria

    1993

    Solo exhibition, Klein Galery, Rustenburg

    Group exhibition, ‘Important South African Art’, Schweickerdt Art Gallery, Pretoria

    1994

    Retrospective exhibition 1939-94, Pretoria Art Museum

    1995

    Retrospective exhibition, 1939-94, Sasol Art Museum, University of Stellenbosch

    Prestige exhibition, Potchefstroom University for CHE

    1996

    Solo exhibition, South African Association of Arts (Northern Transvaal), Pretoria

    ‘Space to Breath’ Exhibition, Pretoria Art Museum

    Group exhibition,South African Art,Egypt, Cairo

    1997

    Group exhibition,South African and Flemish Artists’ Exhibition, University of Stellenbosch

    Group exhibition,Executive Art, Association of Art Pretoria

    Group exhibition,70+ Living Artists, Sasol Exhibition, KKNK, Oudtshoorn; Sanlam Art Gallery, Bellville

    Group exhibition,50thBirthday Celebration Exhibition,Association of Arts Pretoria

    1998

    Solo exhibition, Rand Afrikaans University

    Group exhibition,The Spirit and Images of Africa,Association of Arts Pretoria

    1999

    Group exhibition,Opening Exhibition,State Theatre Art Gallery, Pretoria

    Group exhibition,Thoughts around Easter,Gencor Gallery, Rand Afrikaaans University, Johannesburg

    Group exhibition,Contemporary South African Art,Old Arts Gallery, University of Pretoria

    Group exhibition,African Renaissance,State Theatre Art Gallery, Pretoria

    2000

    Solo exhibition, Association of Arts Pretoria

    Group exhibition,Hanover 2000 Exhibition, Germany

    2001

    Solo exhibition, Association of Arts Pretoria

    Group exhibition,Femina 2001,Association of Arts Pretoria

    Group exhibition,Women of Tshwane,Sasol Art Museum, University of Stellenbosch

    2002

    Accolade exhibition, Potchefstroom Museum

    Honorary exhibition (with Gunther van der Reis), Pretoria Art Museum

    Group exhibition,Centenary Exhibition,Schweickerdt Art Gallery, University of Pretoria

    Group exhibition,30thAnniversary Exhibition,Polokwane Art Collections

    Exhibition Opening,SANAVA Art Collection,Absa Bank Gallery, Johannesburg

    2003

    Group exhibition,Exhibition of Woman Artists, Voortrekker Monument Art Gallery, Pretoria

    Group exhibition,Aardklop Art Festival,Potchefstroom

    2004

    Solo exhibition, Association of Arts Pretoria

    Group exhibition,Exposição Collectiva,Dialogo (Entre) Culturas, Maputo, Mozambique

    2005

    Accolade Exhibition, Hoërskool Rustenburg, North West Province

    Group exhibition,Members’ Exhibition,Association of Arts Pretoria

  • Collections

    Public Collections - International

    • Taipei Fine Arts Museum, China
    • Kilty Collection, New York
    • Roger Hauert Collection, Paris
    • Sir Allen Lane Collections, London

    Galleries & Museums – South Africa

    • Ann Bryant Art Museum, East London
    • Hester Rupert Art Museum, Graaff-Reinet
    • Johannesburg Art Gallery
    • Nelson Mandela Metropolitan Art Museum, Port Elizabeth
    • Oliewenhuis Art Museum, Bloemfontein
    • Polokwane Art Museum
    • Potchefstroom Museum
    • Pretoria Art Museum
    • Sandton Art Museum
    • Iziko South African National Gallery, Cape Town
    • Willem Annandale Art Museum, Lichtenburg
    • William Humphreys Art Gallery, Kimberley

    Former Provincial Administrations – South Africa

    • Cape Provincial Administration
    • Provincial Administration of the Orange Free State
    • Transvaal Provincial Administration

    Former Town Councils – South Africa

    • Alberton Town Council
    • Kempton Park Town Council
    • Krugersdorp Town Council
    • Randfontein Town Council
    • Rustenburg Town Council
    • Sasolburg Town Council
    • Springs Town Council

    Government Departments

    • Department of Foreign Affairs:
      • South African Embassy, Helsinki, Finland
      • South African Embassy, Athens, Greece
      • South African Embassy, Brussels, Belgium
      • South African Embassy, Lilongwe, Malawi
      • South African Embassy, London, England
      • South African Embassy, Tel Aviv, Israel
      • South African Embassy, Washington, USA
      • South African Embassy, Vienna, Austria
      • South African Consulate-General, Lima, Peru
      • South African Consulate-General, Tokyo, Japan
    • Former Department of Health
    • Former Department of National Education
    • Former Department of Defence: South African Navy

    Universities – South Africa

    • North-West University (Potchefstroom Campus)
    • University of the Free State
    • University of Pretoria
    • University of Stellenbosch
    • University of South Africa
    • University of the Western Cape
    • University of Durban – Westville
    • University of the Witwatersrand
    • University of Johannesburg

    Colleges of Education and Schools – South Africa

    • Afrikaanse Hoër Meisieskool, Pretoria
    • Afrikaanse Hoër Seunskool, Pretoria
    • Christelike Hoër Meisieskool Oranje, Bloemfontein
    • Glenmore Eco Centre, KwaZulu-Natal
    • Hoër Volkskool, Potchefstroom
    • Hoërskool Ermelo
    • Hoërskool Rustenburg
    • Pretoria High School for Girls
    • Pretoriase Onderwyskollege

    Public Collections – South Africa

    • Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, Pretoria
    • Human Sciences Research Council, Pretoria
    • O. R. Tambo International Airport
    • South African Academy for Science and Arts, Pretoria
    • State Theatre Collection, Pretoria

    Corporate Collections – South Africa

    • ABSA Bank Collection, Johannesburg
    • Cullinan Refractories Limited, Olifantsfontein
    • Development Bank of Southern Africa, Johannesburg
    • Fedfood Limited, Isando
    • Nedbank Art Collection, Johannesburg
    • Pretoria Eye Institute Art Collection
    • Rupert Art Foundation, Stellenbosch
    • Samro Collection, Johannesburg
    • Sanlam Collection, Bellville
    • Sasol Art Collection, Johannesburg
    • Schlepp Holdings Inc, Johannesburg
    • Schlesinger Collection, Johannesburg
    • South African Breweries, Johannesburg
    • South African Broadcasting Corporation, Johannesburg
    • South African Reserve Bank, Pretoria and Cape Town
    • Syferfontein Mine, Secunda