Wolf Kibel was born in Grodzisk, near Warsaw, Poland on 16 December 1903. As a young boy Kibel was preoccupied with carving. His father’s death in 1911 brought sudden insecurity to Kibel as a child. He studied briefly in Poland under the guidance of Appelbaum, a painter visiting from London. He became very motivated to see whether he had potential as a painter. At age of 20 he fled to Austria to avoid the draft, which was the norm in the Polish army at the time. Not being a citizen of Austria, Kibel could not enroll as state pupil, and was taught privately. Between 1923 and 1925 he studied painting under Prof. Pick-Moroni in Vienna, suffering ill health from an impoverished lifestyle. He was advised by his mentor to and settled in Palestine, as he lacked travel documents to enter France, his desired destination. He did stay briefly in Jerusalem, where he again took ill and became destitute. Kibel lived on the beach in Tel Aviv until someone he had befriended gave him money to rent a room. In Tel Aviv he soon established himself as a good painter. It was here that he started studying modern techniques of painting, as well as met and married his wife Frieda. Further ill health in 1929 resulted in Kibel’s decision to relocate to Cape Town, where already lived. He left his wife and child in Tel Aviv with plans for them to join him in Cape Town in 1933. In 1932 he set up an art studio with the sculptor, Lippy Lipshitz, who had returned that year from Paris. They gathered some pupils and Kibel started settled into developing his painting. Wolf Kibel exhibited in 1931,1933, 1935 and 1937 in Cape Town. His paintings were genre pieces (portraits, still life and some landscapes) much admired by the public for its vibrant use of colour informed by expressionism. Kibel was diagnosed with advanced tuberculosis in 1937 and the following year he died. Retrospective exhibitions were held in 1947 and 1950 in Johannesburg and Cape Town’s National Art Gallery respectively. Subsequently, a number of exhibitions of his work occurred in Cape Town, Johannesburg and Pretoria.
– Wolf Kibel studied art briefly as a boy in Poland under a visiting London painter Applebaum.
– 1923 to 1925 Studied art under Professor Pick-Morina, Vienna.
– 1931 Wolf Kibel’s first one-man exhibition, Cape Town
– 1936 Empire Exhibition, Johannesburg
– 1942 Memorial Exhibition, Johannesburg
– 1948 Overseas Exhibition of South African Art, Tate Gallery
– 1950 Memorial Exhibition, Johannesburg
– 1966 Special Commemorative Exhibition, Pretoria
– 1968 Exhibition of monotypes, Cape Town
– 1976/7 Prestige Retrospective Exhibition, South African National Art Gallery, William Humphreys Art Gallery, Pretoria Art Museum, Johannesburg Art Gallery.
– 1979 ‘ South African Printmakers’ South African National Art Gallery, Cape Town.
Public Art Collections
South African National Art Gallery Cape Town, William Humphreys Art Gallery Kimberley, Durban Art Gallery, Pretoria Art Museum, King George VI Art Gallery Port Elizabeth, Tatham Art Gallery Pietermaritzburg, Rembrandt Foundation, WITS Art galleries, UNISA.