Behind The Kotzé Gallery in Bloemfontein is a family of artists who are using their skills and resources to give opportunities to up-and-coming talent in the area. 

The Kotzé Gallery was founded by a prominent South African art family who have used their love of art and expertise to create a colourful space where aspiring, up-and-coming artists are mentored and can showcase their work alongside some of our countries greatest painters. 

The original artist of the Kotzé family was Kobus, a small farmer from the Aliwal North District in the Eastern Cape who loved to paint landscapes from the views he saw while on the farm. Kobus shares, “Nature has always made an impression on me. Because of that, I always carry my camera with me. I’ve taken thousands of photos in the time that I was farming or on holiday – then I use those and do my own impressions of them in my paintings”.

A few years after Kobus decided to pursue art full-time, his wife, Joe Kotzé started painting as well. Since then, all their children have gotten involved in the art world – either creating art, marketing art, or framing art.

Their son, Floris Kotzé explains, “Art was passed down from person to person, and even from generation to generation with our family”.

When the Kotzé family relocated to Bloemfontein in 1994, they started getting established in the South African art community, doing art festivals and shows all across the country to showcase their family’s art. Eventually, after 23 years of painting, Kobus opened his own gallery – Kotzé Kuns (Kotzé Art).

“We represent more than 40 different South African artists’ work, as well as a good collection of old masters”, explains Floris. While the gallery mainly showcases classical art, they also dabble in abstract art, still lifes, and even drawings, etchings and linocuts; giving art lovers the full spectrum of what SA artists have to offer. Floris adds, “It is a privilege for us to create a platform where new and upcoming artists can also display their paintings”.

One of these artists is Dodi Biayi, a Congolese artist who showed up at the door of The Kotzé Gallery with paintings under his arm and an incredible talent for working with colour and canvas. Dodi’s work celebrates everyday people and communities, and his success reflects the importance of creating viable platforms for artists to realise their potential.

Dodi shares his story, saying, “I started out a long time ago in Congo and then I moved to South Africa. I came to Bloemfontein looking for a place where I could exhibit my work. I found the guys at the gallery and showed them some of my work and they were so impressed. I’m inspired by the daily life of Mzansi – what is going on around in town, on the location, what people are doing every single day. Now, I have a lot of clients all over South Africa”.

Another artist is Lazuruz Maputla Matamazana, who creates hand-carved, wooden animal sculptures from driftwood and olienhout. Lazuruz had always been a struggling artist, but has been able to make a name for himself since meeting the Kotzé family in 2012.

Lazuruz explains his creative process, saying, “I look at the natural shape of the wood and use it as a guide on what kind of animal I should mould. The items will differ from piece to piece. With the smaller ones, it can take hours, with the medium ones, it can take weeks, and with the bigger ones it can take months to complete”.

Since exhibiting his work at the Kotzé Gallery, Lazuruz now has an opportunity to share his gift with the world. “Tourists from across the globe can come and see the work that I have made using my hands. It’s important for my things to flourish”, says Lazuruz.

The Kotzé family firmly believes that through building bridges for opportunity, new talent can emerge and thrive. Floris shares, “It’s such a pleasure to see how these artists have grown over the last couple of years”.

South Africa is a country rich in talent, and in Floris’ apt words, “Even though art is not a necessity, the arts are the heartbeat of a society”.