Father Frans Claerhout’s famous series, Christ and the other person, is currently on exhibition at Oliewenhuis Art Museum, a satellite of the National Museum.
This beautiful series of 25 oil paintings is on display in the Annex at Oliewenhuis Art Museum from 1 December 2023 to 18 February 2024. The series is on permanent loan to Oliewenhuis Art Museum from The Congregation of the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate.
Father Frans Claerhout was born in Pitten, Belgium in 1919. After completing his training for priesthood, Claerhout came to South Africa in 1946 and was based in Thaba ‘Nchu (close to Bloemfontein) as Catholic priest and missionary. Claerhout was a founding member of the Bloemfontein Group, and he participated in numerous group exhibitions, and had his first solo exhibition in Johannesburg in 1961. Apart from practicing his own art, he played a significant part in developing local talent, including artists represented in Oliewenhuis Art Museum’s Permanent Collection such as Albert Dasheka, John Tladi, Micheal Mosala and George Ramagaga.
Father Claerhout was a self-taught oil painter with no formal training, but came from an artistic family. He painted mostly people, scenes from around the mission stations where he was based, and religious scenes, using a distinct expressionistic style. He was commissioned to paint several murals at mission stations throughout South Africa, including in Bloemfontein Schweitzer-Reineke, Thaba ‘Nchu, Potchefstroom and Witsieshoek. Claerhout died in 2006 at the age of 87.
Claerhout explained this particular series as follows: “The series of Christ and the other person is a meditation of Christ and People. What Christ is, cannot be found in research by the human mind. He was HUMAN – with and for man. I feel I do not know much about him, but what I know and feel, that I like. Faith is to be delightfully underage, expectantly. Christ is the same in all his encounters with people, but each time different. A Man for all seasons. He stirred the heart of all people and in this series are a few [of these people]. I hope that, with reference to the Gospel text, the 25 paintings will bring us love and growth. The last picture is the secret of faith: Christ alone. Who is the other person, me, you, us? ”
Oliewenhuis Art Museum is located at 16 Harry Smith Street, Bloemfontein and is open to the public from Monday to Friday between 08:00 and 17:00, and on Saturdays, Sundays, and public holidays between 09:00 and 16:00. A ramp at the entrance of the main entrance provides access for wheel chairs, while a lift provides access to the Permanent Collection display areas on the 1st floor. R10 parking fee will be charged but entrance to the museum is free.