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JEAN CAMPBELL

1933 - 2011

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“My work has moved from figurative to expressive, then to abstraction.  A Cabalist once said: ‘If you wish to grasp the invisible, you must penetrate as deeply as you can into the visible.’ This is the most interesting challenge for any artist; to comprehend this reality and to transform it into a painting.  It is a task where inspiration needs to flow, suggesting only the essence of the subject matter.”

“Expressionism in painting is supposed to, and does, record merely the ‘inner experience’ of the artist.  This is also the case with expressionistic sculpture, music and poetry and dance. Expressionism is concerned with the inner experiences, as opposed to Impressionism and the outer world.  The Impressionists main concern was not to imitate nature but rather to study the effects of light and changing light. According to the German Expressionist Max Beckman (1884 – 1950) ‘everything that is cerebral, and transcendental is united in a painting with never-ending work of seeing this unchangeable power centre which, through the union of mind and spirit, makes the expression of the personal possible. It is the power of the spirit which compels mind and senses to eternal activity, in order to expand the awareness of space.  The infinite godhead that surrounds us and in which we find ourselves.”

Ref. Jean comments on her approach to painting in her monologue ’I Adore Red’ published by Jean Campbell Contemporary Art publishers 2008

EDUCATION, PROJECTS & EMPLOYMENT:

1951-1952
Studied Graphic Design at Michaelis Art School, UCT and took evening classes with Vladimir Tretchikoff

1953
Employed by Ramsay, Son & Parker where she learnt about publishing and followed her mother to England where she was employed as an Artist in an advertising firm; Rupert and Curtis and two years later by Kinghams

1958
Jean returned to South Africa and married Robert Hawker Kingdon. Was employed by Lindsay Smithers.

1969
Decided to paint full time and purchased a small cottage in 84 Dean Street. Assisted Tretchukoff in his Bishopscourt studio.
Agreed to become guardian for Gabriella le Roux and moved to Pietermaritzburg to be close to Gabriella’s grandmother.  Made friends with Faith Stanistreet, a weaver and purchased carding brushes, spinning wheels and looms to weave Karakul rugs which she sold at Helen de Leeuw’s gallery in Hyde Park, Johannesburg. Employed 32 Zulu women and found it a satisfying trade.

1979
Returned to Cape Town to resume her career as an artist and enrolled at the Foundation School of Art in Observatory.

1980-1988
Enrolled and qualified for a Bachelor of Arts at the University of Stellenbosch as a special student. Paul Emsley was one of lecturers.  

EXHIBITIONS :

1989
First solo exhibition at the Gallery International (Karen Mc Kerron JHB)

1990
Second solo exhibition at Gallery International

1998
Chelsea Gallery, Wynberg
Grassroots, Durban – Solo

1999
Axis Gallery, New York, Group Exhibition

2000
London - Soan Studio Fulham

WORK IN COLLECTIONS :

University of Western Cape
District Six Museum
Old Mutual
University of Cape Town
England
Holland
Germany
Belgium
France
Korea
Switzerland
Washington DC
South Africa

PUBLICATIONS :

Jean Campbell had both poise, passion and that rare ability to stand outside of herself and recognise the talent and needs of her fellow artists without compromising her own unique vision in any way. If she were still alive, she would applaud the recognition and success of her one-time neighbour and mentor, Vladimir Tretchikoff.  His retrospective exhibition was curated by Andrew Lamprecht at IZIKO in 2011. Leaving behind a successful career in Japan at the end of WWII. Vladimir Tretchikoff had joined his wife and daughter in Cape Town. Denigrated by the critics as being sentimental he built successful career outside the South African gallery circuit.

While Tretchikoff’s popular appeal insured his personal income, this was not true of many gifted South African Artists including those who were previously challenged by the difficulties imposed by Bantu education and the conflicting taste caused by the cultural diversity of the South African population. Jean sought to use her knowledge of publishing to achieve sustainable careers for her fellow practising artists no matter how diverse their creed or colour. In collaboration with SAAA (the South African Association of Artists) and sponsored by the Department of Arts and Culture, Jean published ‘A Directory of Southern African Contemporary Art Practises’ volumes I & II. These publications listed the artist’s contact details aiming at giving the artists a direct entry to the Art Market. Art Routes were devised and publicised, and she contributed to magazines. Jean herself is represented in an international book on art from 2000-2002. Published in Holland.


 Mentor and philanthropist, Jean Campbell taught artists in her studio.

Jean Campbell

Artist: JEAN CAMPBELL
Title: Cockerels
Size: 67 x 94 cm
Media: Oil
Price: R 18 500 Framed
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