The Norval Foundation is a just-opened centre for art and cultural expression, dedicated to 20th- and 21st-century visual art from South Africa and beyond.
It is the custodian of the Gerard Sekoto Foundation, the Edoardo Villa Estate Collection, the Alexis Preller Archive and the Cecil Skotnes Archive.
Located in Cape Town’s historic Constantia Valley, it offers visitors a multisensory experience, with a sculpture garden, outdoor amphitheatre, purpose-built exhibition spaces and research library, complemented by the Skotnes restaurant & bar, a bespoke shop and a children’s playground.
Re/discovery and Memory, curated by Karel Nel, is a current series of interrelated exhibitions that focus on the dialogue between artists from the time when South Africa was deeply divided by its politics and social structures.
The world-first retrospectives of Sydney Kumalo and Ezrom Legae chronicle their time at Polly Street Art Centre in Johanneburg in the 1950’s, where they they met Edoardo Villa and were mentored by Cecil Skotnes who introduced them to their first art dealer, Egon Guenther.
Through Guenther they forged significant creative relationships that resulted in a collective known as the Amadlozi Group that included Pino Cattaneo, Cecily Stash, Cecil Skotnes and Edoardo Villa.
The Edoardo Villa exhibition focuses on his sculpture Africa that distils Villa’s fascination for the stark forms of the local landscape. Villa was a pioneer of the use of steel in creating abstract sculpture who represented South Africa at the Venice Biennale in 1956 and São Paolo in 1957. This recognition led to the commission for the first monumental sculpture produced on the continent in 1960 for the Union of South Africa pavilion at the 1960 Rand Easter Show.
Serge Alain Nitegeka was commissioned to create the immersive installation Structural Response III (2018) that references the mobility of the human population and the disruptions caused by displacement through war, famine , political instability and economic hardship. Like Italian born Villa, Nitegeka, from Burundi, also had to adapt to a new country and a radically different context.
The Norval family are the founders and initial funders of the Norval Foundation. Their aim is to make art widely accessible to local and international visitors by creating a self-sustaining centre for art. The proceeds from capital donations will be used to secure the foundation for future generations.
Captured working on ”Africa” Villa felt that his inspiration came out of South Africa where he drew from the thorny plant life of aloes and spiny cacti, the harshness of the highveld winters and the tropical lushness of Natal. He was excited by the immensity of the landscape as well as the vigour of the development happening around him, whether these were mine headgears or the rapidly changing skyline of Johannesburg