Parys is synonymous with art and artists. It is a quaint little country town, set on the banks of the mighty Vaal River and surrounded by the scenic farmlands of the Northern Free State. Parys bears testament to the greatest force ever to hit the earth, more than 2 billion years ago, causing massive destruction and global climate change. To this day, Parys is embraced by the rocky arms and outcrops, left by the impact of this tumultuous asteroid, plunging into the depths of the earth. The area has been proclaimed a U.N.E.S.C.O. World Heritage Site and is known as the Vredefort Dome.

Due to its close proximity to Johannesburg, Parys has become an enchanting tourist destination. Over weekends, the town is packed to capacity with visitors spending a day in the country, experiencing all Parys has to offer, from galleries and antique shops to exquisite restaurants situated under age-old oak trees.

Artists & Galleries in Parys

Contemporary galleries are found all along the main road, the first being the Rooi Granaat Gallery. This is a small, intimate gallery that stocks a wide variety of work, from pencil drawings to photography. It represents many well-known working artists, some of which are – Maryna de Witt, Victoria Janeke Botma, Liezl Spangenberg, Roslynne van Belkum, Melinda Müller, Karin TerBlanche, Hennie Kruger, and Deon TerBlanche.

The hugely popular Van den Berg Fine Art Gallery has recently relocated to the Trading Post which is a trendy new tourist venue, hosting amongst others, a restaurant, art shop, mosaic gallery and the new open-air Van den Berg Fine Art Gallery. The Trading post features work by Riaan van den Berg, Annette Dannhauser, the inimitable Mariaan Kotze as well as ceramics by renowned local artists Rika Senekal and Paul van Wyk. This venue will soon host a second gallery, featuring many South African masters, obtained by the Van den Berg Gallery over the years. 

Kiki’s Vintage Studio & Gallery is a photographic studio and photo gallery where you can have some fun, get dressed in vintage clothing and have an old-school sepia-toned photograph printed.

The Waterfall Gallery stocks many popular South African artists, a few being Munro, Stan Polsen, Solly Manthata, Louise de Klerk, Nic van Rensburg and photography by Ruan Smit.

Ben van Wyk Gallery hosts work created by the father-and-son team Ben and Lourens van Wyk.

The Blakermaker Steel Art Gallery showcases work by local steel artist Dave Strydom. Dave is a phenomenon in Parys and has been around for as long as the Vaal River. Most probably every guest house, lodge and restaurant in town has something manufactured by Dave.

Whether it is the solitude, the raging river rapids or the scenic surrounds, Parys is a haven for artists and many have made it their home. A few of these renowned artists can be visited at their home studio galleries.

Coral Fourie Studio Gallery: Coral grew up in close contact with many bushman tribes and has since been fascinated by their culture. The Bushmen are the only custodians of a priceless treasure: a culture, with its roots directly in the hunter-gatherer ancestry of all mankind. While they manage to survive physically their unique culture is rapidly disappearing. The writings and artistic creations of Coral Fourie and the brotherhood she shared with the Bushmen aim at keeping the flame of a threatened people alive. For the San, culture forms an intrinsic part of the treasures of humanity. Coral watches over it with much sense and sensibility. Each of Coral’s works is a vibrant treasure chest filled with secret symbols, hidden messages and deeper meanings of time and space. Her work is fascinating and on meeting her be prepared for hours to just fly by. Note that Coral’s work is no longer distributed through galleries.

Hennie Kruger Studio Gallery: Don’t be shocked when Hennie greets you barefooted and dressed in paint-smeared denim and a torn t-shirt. He forgot his slops in a VW bus while hitching a ride to a political demonstration, somewhere in the 70’s; he has not worn shoes since. Hennie has little regard for material possessions and epitomises everything you’ve ever heard about the infamous “strange, reclusive artist.” That being said, Hennie is regarded by many, above all by Professor John Botha, Head of the Art Department at N.W.U. (now retired) as South Africa’s best expressive contemporary artist. Hennie has exhibited at all major exhibitions and venues throughout South Africa, he has been invited to many festival exhibitions like K.K.N.K., Grahamstown Arts Festival and Aardklop, he has also been the festival artist at Aardklop. His works form part of the museum, private and corporate collections worldwide. After the theft of fifty of his best-of- life paintings, prior to a solo exhibition going live, Hennie withdrew from the limelight, never to seek it again. He now gives art lessons from his home studio and does mainly commission work.

Karin TerBlanche is most probably the only sand artist in the country. This entails “painting” with sand on a light box which projects the image onto a screen for an audience to view. The images flow into one another and the effect is very similar to watching an animation. She has participated in many live shows, one of which was with the Johannesburg Philharmonic Orchestra. She is currently working on a project for the Namibian Tourism Department. When visiting her home studio you might just experience a bit of this magic. Karin is the founder of Celebration Studio, a Christian-based art studio, where she does prophetic art paintings and also hosts workshops and seminars on the subject. The aim of which, is to bring light into the predominantly “dark” art world.

Philip Steyn is an impressionist oil painter, specialising in portraits and creator of well over 2000 works of art.

Thea van Staden, a regular exhibitor at Kamers and Artists under the Sun, well-known for her oils and pencil works.

Victoria Janeke Botma paints still-life, landscape & abstract works in oils. Her fearless use of colour speaks volumes. Also a regular exhibitor at Artists under the Sun.

Deon TerBlanche a fine art photographer who specialises in corporate website photography and also sculpts using recycled truck tyres and driftwood as a medium.

Louise de Klerk is a versatile oil painter; she loves painting people and also does sketches and cartoons. Louise is a seasoned artist that regularly exhibits at Artists under the Sun.

Smit Engelbrecht an oil painter that creates especially great pencil and charcoal drawings of the human form.

Parys Art Corps: Due to the abundance of artists living in Parys and the relatively scarce exhibition space the Parys Art Corps was founded by local artists Deon & Karin TerBlanche. As a group with a work, it has been possible to convince art-friendly venues to allow the Art Corps free wall space for exhibition purposes. The Art Corps strives to give back to the community of artists by organising talks, workshops and get-togethers where local artists participate and are encouraged and challenged with specific themes with the ultimate goal of higher standards being achieved. One of these venues is the lifestyle boutique, Dieu Merci. Owner, and artist in her own right, Wess-Lee often has tremendous local works on display and a visit to her shop is as good as any gallery. Five minutes out of town you’ll find the Dog & Fig Craft Brewery & Gallery. This is a must-do before leaving Parys and you’ll be well advised to plan this stop around a sunset or at worst a lunch. The Dog & Fig are staunch supporters of the arts and have offered the Parys Art Corps a permanent exhibition space. Thus, not only will you be treated to great local art, experience the best view ever, get to taste their remarkable craft beer, but you’ll also have the honour of tasting an award-winning, voted the best burger in the Free State, could anyone ask for a better experience?

For further enquiries regarding any of the above please contact Deon TerBlanche at info@parys.mobi

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