Bettie Cilliers-Barnard.

(1914 – 2010)

“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.

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)

196162

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

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)

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

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

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

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

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

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