OIL ON CANVAS, SIGNED INSCRIBED 'KIGALI' & DATED 1939
32" X 28"
Born in Brussels in 1912, the son of a Spanish mother and Flemish father, Clement Serneels at first intended to follow into his father’s profession as an architect. He attended the Brussels Academy but within a few months abandoned architecture and turned his attention to painting. So impressed were his professors at the Academy that in 1936 they awarded him a scholarship which he used to fund a trip to the Congo for a year. Returning to Brussels he was offered an exhibition of his work which proved an enormous success and established him within the Belgian. In 1939 he returned to the Congo but at the outbreak of World War II he found himself unable to return to his homeland. He settled in Lake Kivu and commenced painting a series of important figural studies of local peoples and tribesmen. This stunning image of a wife to Chief Wrampungu dates from 1939 and perfectly illustrates his attention to detail and his mastery with skin tones. It is inscribed with the location of Kigali, a small village close of lake Kivu now the capital of the independent country of Rwanda.
In 1945 he visited South Africa and stayed for some months in Cape Town and had sell-out exhibitions in Cape Town and Johannesburg. In 1948 he revisited South Africa and had another successful exhibition in Johannesburg. From 1951 - 1960 he continued to live at Lake Kivu, making several visits to Europe and holding exhibitions in Brussels and Lisbon. Following upheavals in the Congo he moved to South Africa and settled in Johannesburg where he established himself as a successful painter of still life , nudes and portraits.
Exhibitions : 1937; one man exhibitions in Europe, Congo, USA and South Africa. 1945; first one man exhibition in Cape Town. 1964; Prestige exhibition, Pretoria Art Museum. 1966; Republic Festival Exhibition, Pretoria.
Public Collections : Pretoria Art Museum; William Humphreys Gallery, Kimberley.