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Don’t Miss ‘Conflux’, an Exhibition Celebrating Decades of Abstract Art

The Nel Erasmus Art Legacy Trust celebrates Erasmus’ works from the 1950’s to now

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By Kimberley Schoeman  | November 24, 2023 | Art

Strauss & Co and The Nel Erasmus Art Legacy Trust are pleased to present Conflux - A Confluence of Daring and Discovery by Nel Erasmus. This retrospective exhibition showcases over ninety artworks spanning seven decades, highlighting the artistic journey of one of South Africa's leading postwar abstract artists.

Beginning on her 95th birthday, November 27, Conflux carefully traces the evolution of Erasmus's visual language from her early Paris works in the 1950s to her most recent pieces, where she skilfully captures movement and pace. The exhibition also marks the official launch of The Nel Erasmus Art Legacy Trust, a newly established South African Public Benefit Organisation devoted to preserving and promoting Erasmus's artistic legacy, as well as fostering research and development in African abstract art.

"The power of Nel's work lies in her extraordinary ability to blend artistic expression, scientific inquiry, and philosophical reflection. Her oeuvre exemplifies an elegant, clear, and cohesive thought process, reflecting profound introspection and understanding of all facets of human existence," says Frank Kilbourn, a trustee of the Nel Erasmus Art Legacy Trust and chairman of Strauss & Co.


The exhibited works showcase the initial influence of Cubism on Erasmus and trace the development of her visual language into a distinctive, singular style.

‘Orange Red Glow’ by Nel Erasmus. Image: Supplied.

"I aim for universality, striving towards awareness, perpetual growth, and germination while navigating the realms of duality, tension, and balance. Vessels such as containers, urns, entrances, and exits emerge spontaneously in paintings as symbols and metaphors from everyday life, encapsulating and directing this confluence. Hence, the title Conflux," she explains.

Artist Nel Erasmus celebrates not only her lustrous career, but here 95th birthday. Image: Supplied.

Conflux charts Nel's artistic journey, from her postwar Paris works influenced by De Stijl's economical use of line, Cubism's fragmented perspectives, and Italian Futurism's dynamic compositions, to her later pieces inspired by the Colour Field Abstractionists' emphasis on the interplay between colour and form.

Her most recent work from the late 2010s captures movement, intertwining decades of exploration with her rigorous training under the tutelage of postwar Paris' most prominent artists and art theoreticians.

Flowing Motion by Nel Erasmus. Image: Supplied.

"The Nel Erasmus Art Legacy Trust and Strauss & Co are honoured to celebrate Nel Erasmus's remarkable artistic achievements on her 95th birthday. The opening of Conflux and the launch of The Nel Erasmus Art Legacy Trust mark a collective celebration of her life and her lasting impact on South African art," Kilbourn concludes.

Conflux opens for public viewing on November 28 until 1 December from 10am - 4pm at Strauss & Co's public gallery, 89 Central Street, Houghton, Johannesburg.