Landscapes with luminosity still on show

For art lovers who appreciate evocative and masterfully executed landscapes, Kimberley-based artist Ann Pretorius’s works are still up at Art on Target in Essexvale until next Saturday.
The East London-born artist who had studied fine arts in Port Elizabeth said exhibiting here after so many years felt like a full-circle moment.
The exhibition was opened on May 24 by writer David Robbins, a friend and former colleague of Pretorius’s at the renowned William Humphreys Art Gallery (WHAG) in Kimberley, where she has been the director since 2001.
Pretorius has often included work by Eastern Cape artists in the William Humphreys collection, playing a key role in promoting quality art as well as opening doors for talented artists from this province.
However, the Port Elizabeth event was an opportunity to share her own work in the city in the form of a solo exhibition for the first time.
Pretorius has had a long career in teaching and creating art, in genres ranging from pottery, spinning and weaving to painting.
Most of the paintings on exhibition depict river and nature scenes inspired by two locations that have been significant in Pretorius’s life. The one is the banks of the Orange River, where she and her husband, Albert, who passed away last year, have owned a farm for many years.
When Pretorius’s tenure at WHAG comes to an end this is the place she will be retreating to – in all likelihood to take up painting full time – she says. The second location whose importance is clear from her body of work is the lush coastal area around Morgan Bay, where the Pretoriuses and their children spent countless memorable holidays over the years.
Robbins, outgoing chairman of the council of the national gallery in Kimberley, said his friendship with Pretorius had proved to be one of the most remarkable and rewarding of his life.
Robbins joined the WHAG council in the late 1990s, and thereafter made regular trips to Kimberley from Victoria West, where he was living and doing community work at the time.
But it was only later that he was able to see more of Pretorius’s personal work, which he described as possessing luminosity. “Ann’s paintings seemed to glow; almost as if self-lit.”
Pretorius, he said, had “devoted 30 years of her life to developing and maintaining the most beautiful and vigorous and accessible gallery in the country”. However, the time had now come for “Ann the painter” to emerge in full.
“She will surprise and delight us all as her talent, undeniably enriched by her long experience in the art world, comes to full flower,” he said.
Besides supporting a dear friend at her opening, Robbins also had an additional reason to visit the Bay – to conduct a reading and book signing of Walking to Australia, his new title, at Fogarty’s at the end of last month.
For gallery hours and more information on Pretorius’s exhibition, contact Art on Target at info@artwork.co.za or 083-728-5295.

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