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'Art treated us well'

2015-07-16 14:46

With both parents who are professional painters, it is no surprise that Hanlie and Mariaan Kotze have both chosen art as their careers and are making waves in the traditionally stern art world with their playful paintings.

"I have never tried to persuade them to select another profession," said father Kobus Kotze, well-known South African painter. And then the scamp in him appears: "I allowed them to bump their own heads!"

Not that art has treated him badly. On the contrary. Kobus was a farmer and field officer for a dairy company in the Aliwal North district when painting became more than a hobby.

"Very soon my income from painting overtook my salary. Jo [his wife] and I then started a gallery in Aliwal North."

Jo said that she felt extremely blessed to be a part of a family of painters. “Art treated us extremely well,” she said.

The couple started exhibiting at the Bloemfontein Art Market and very soon decided to leave Aliwal North and moved to Bloemfontein. "Bloem was much more central, which made marketing to the Gauteng galleries much easier."

The couple also started exhibiting weekly at Zoo Lake in Johannesburg, which was a huge undertaking. Their son, Floris, resigned as a policeman in Cape Town in 1997 and moved to Bloem to help with the marketing and framing of their art.

"The idea was to expand," Floris explained. "When I married Anine, we opened an art gallery. At that stage we knew South Africa’s top artists and knew whose work we wanted to approach to include in our gallery."

Today the couple owns and manages Kotze Art Gallery – the major commercial art gallery in Bloemfontein.

In the meantime, Hanlie and Mariaan followed in their parents’ footsteps and became established painters in their own right.

On the respected Alice Art Gallery website Hanlie is described as "rated among the pantheon of well-known South African artists who can hold their own anywhere in the world".

Floris is currently exhibiting a large range of paintings at the Vryfees, the Free State arts festival in Bloemfontein. This exhibition includes work by both his parents and his siblings.

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