Kapwani Kiwanga
Collectors’ Focus: The Kilbourn Collection

Gallery 9

22 April 2023 – August 2023


Frank Kilbourn, an entrepreneur and Chairperson of Strauss & Co., and Lizelle, his wife, a property lawyer and author, have been art collectors for nearly forty years. They have together created a sizable collection of significant Historic, Modern and Contemporary works. The selection shown here focuses on artists of a younger generation that are exploring the contemporary moment and an innovative use of materials, pertinent to this time.

Statement from Frank Kilbourn

 Lizelle and I started collecting art in 1988, when we were both article clerks. It would be fair to say that our collecting habits, initially, were driven by curiosity, aesthetics, what we knew and understood, and, of course, our budget. From inception, we only bought what we really liked and found interesting, paying little attention to the opinion of critics, friends and the media…. sometimes to our detriment, I guess. We soon realised that collecting art in a sustained way, means embarking on a never-ending journey of (self) discovery.

In the process, I have come to believe that great art transcends centuries, negates borders, is oblivious to oceans and continents. It has the power to define civilisations, accentuate our differences while building bridges for communication and understanding. Art represents our dreams and desires and confronts our fears and prejudices, it effortlessly allows for fantasy and reality to co-exist. At its best it can mesmerise, challenge, seduce, repel, offend, heal, excite. It acts as our conscience as well as a source of inspiration and, if allowed time and attention, is always transformative. It is creativity in action and showcases mankind’s capacity for greatness.

We are grateful and delighted to have been invited by the team at The Norval Foundation to work with curator Karel Nel in sharing a number of works acquired in recent years. Our collection is centred on African Modernists, but we have always been intrigued by Contemporary Art from the continent. Works of art are created in a continuum of the past, the present and the future. Artists are in dialogue with art history, with contemporary issues and current challenges as well as the big questions that will define our future. The works selected for this exhibition examine artists’ quest to find new ways of expression that is true for today, within the context stated above. How does one make art more representative of indigenous cultural practices, escape the centuries’ old tyranny of the flat square or rectangular canvas, add a definitive twist to abstract expression, create something novel and powerful and lasting that speaks eloquently about this period in time.

We are excited about showcasing the masterful use of new materials by artists such as Igshaan Adams, Nicolas Hlobo and Gerhard Marx in re-defining our perception of what constitutes a “painting” and invite viewers to enjoy the works of some exciting, less discovered artists, re-imagining art movements of the past and finding authentic expressions of the present.