national Arts Festival Banner

Sunday, August 5, 2018


(Impressive large work by Andrew Verster)

Running at the Tamasa Gallery in Overport is a comprehensive exhibition of the works of well-known and acclaimed Durban artist, Andrew Verster.

This is the first time in 10 years that a body of his work has been curated in a gallery. Titled The Collector’s Room, the exhibition shows paintings and drawings from Verster’s personal archive and represent important milestones in his career.

The following is quoted from Marianne Meijer’s Art Notes in The Mercury of August 4, 2018:

“Although the show is not a retrospective survey the works being shown give the viewer an idea of the highlights of the artist’s long and illustrious career. He has certainly made his mark as one of the country’s most important artists and this collection gives us an intimate view into his life and times.

Many viewers will be surprised to see a couple of works from the sixties when he was still a student at Camberwell College in London. During these years he lived with his aunt Ruth the subject of many of his portraits, one of which is on this show. It was the start of his interest in portraiture and the body.  Being in London during the years of the “Swinging Sixties” he encountered the work of David Hockney, a contemporary who was also starting out. Hockney was showing drawings of the male body at a time when this was quite radical and subverted the tradition where only women’s bodies were the subject of art. Verster returned to South Africa and his drawings of nude males took on their own character. The ones on this show were drawn with an economy of line and an elegant eroticism. 

The lush tropicality of Durban’s foliage become another favourite subject and he is one of the few artists who captured the heat, the colour, the abundance and exoticism of Durban’s plant life. His ongoing fascination with India was also an influence on his joyous colour and his love of decoration. 

A theme which runs through the exhibition is his sheer love of life as well as an honesty and generosity in sharing this through his various artforms.

His career was marked by versatility – he designed sets and costumes for opera, worked with architects on buildings, was a respected writer and critic and has influenced generations of students as an inspirational teacher.

Clive Van Den Berg, the opening speaker at the exhibition and a past student of Verster’s pays tribute to him -

“The sheer joy he brought to making art was invigorating. He was also one of the first, if not the first artist in the country to speak openly and frankly about the queer body. The vast body of work he produced over many decades was a poetic and political achievement of huge substance. I personally found it very liberating given the repressive politics of the time.”

Verster, who was born in 1937, has undoubtedly been a man who has lived through interesting times and the exhibition gives us a window into the interest, concerns and joys of living during these years of massive social and political change which he embraced with a vigor and enthusiasm which is shared in this remarkable collection.”

The exhibition runs at Tamasa Gallery, 36 Overport Drive, Durban, until August 20, 2018.