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The exciting and new art exhibition by the Norval Foundation 'Mythical Lexicon' is here

The Norval Foundation is a centre for art and cultural expression, presenting their latest art exhibition on South African artist Alexis Preller

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By Yashna Balwanth | December 11, 2023 | Art

The Norval Foundation is pleased to present Mythical Lexicon, an exhibition dedicated to the works of South African artist Alexis Preller. The exhibition opened on the 30th of November 2023, and will run until the 25th of November 2024.

Curated by Karel Nel with support by Ally Martinez, Alexis Preller: Mythical Lexicon showcases important paintings from public and private collections across South Africa, including pieces from the Homestead Collection, one of the largest collections of Preller works. This retrospective is a rare opportunity to view Alexis Preller artworks which have been lost from public view and not seen together for many years.

Collected Images (Orchestration of Themes) 1952, oil on canvas. Courtesy of the Homestead Collection

Born in Pretoria in 1911, Alexis Preller was exposed to international art teachings as an impressionable young artist, training at the Westminster School of Art in London and the Académie de la Grande Chaumière in Paris. Alexis travelled extensively in both Europe and Africa, and his trips throughout Africa and the Middle East brought him closer to cultures and histories that were to become sources of inspiration for his creations and artistic lexicon. Never fully part of any art movement or limited to one style, Alexis’s work was heavily influenced by French Impressionist artists Vincent van Gogh and Paul Gauguin, as well as South African artists Irma Stern and Maggie Laubser.

Alexis’s work is autobiographical on one hand, while being mythical, layered and culturally transformative on the other. Solitary in nature, he worked in relative isolation, but his travels and continued interest in the art of other cultures sustained him and shaped his work. Deeply influenced by unknown artists across cultures and centuries, he drew on the hieratic traditions of Greece, Egypt, and sub-Saharan Africa. His art, steeped in complex quotations of the past, does not fit comfortably into the artistic categories of his time or within the constraints and conventions of his home country, South Africa.

Grand Mapogga III, 1957. Oil on canvas. 101 x 85 cm. Courtesy of the Homestead Collection

“This exhibition is a major step in securing Alexis Preller’s work in the global canon of art history. His extensive body of work, although not familiar to many outside of South Africa, warrants study and appreciation by international art historians, critics and collectors, and we believe this exhibition is one of many steps being taken to help familiarise the world with the remarkable work of Alexis Preller,” states Heba El Kayal, Chief Curatorial Consultant of the Norval Foundation.

Mythical Lexicon is an extension of Norval Foundation’s intention to develop the research and understanding of artists from the twentieth and twenty–first centuries, hereby punctuating Alexis Preller as an integral artist in our collective art–historical memory.

Fleur du Mal, 1944. Oil on canvas. 48 x 116 cm. Courtesy of the Homestead Collection.