Michael Pettit (1950-)

Artwork by Michael Pettit

Michael Pettit received a BA (Fine Arts) in 1971 from the University of the Witwatersrand – his teachers included Cecily Sash, Robert Hodgins and Judith Mason – and in 1982 a MA (Fine Arts).

He taught in the Department of Fine Arts at the University of Durban- Westville from 1973 to 1977, but gave up the post of Lecturer in order to concentrate on painting asa full time professional artist. He moved to Cape Town in 1978. Though painting has been his intense prime focus, he taught an adult part-time oil painting class from 1980 to 2001.

Michael Pettit’s solo exhibitions have been notably large, sometimes held concurrently at two galleries, presenting several years of work. The size of these comprehensive and stylistically diverse shows allowed for the network of ideas and images full play and his core themes to resonate.

Pettit’s first solo show in 1973 in Durban was shared between two galleries : the Walsh-Marais Gallery and the Natal Society of Art. The Durban Art Gallery purchased the first of five paintings of his that are in their collection. Over more than four decades Pettit’s solo shows have been held in all main South African cities. Galleries include the Goodman Gallery, Goodman-Wolman Gallery, several galleries of the SA Association of Arts, University of Stellenbosch Gallery, and the Jean Welz Gallery. Three large solo exhibitions were held at the Everard Read Gallery in Johannesburg. A wide ranging double exhibition of nearly fifty paintings in Cape Town in 2001 was held at the Irma Stern Museum and the Association for Visual Arts. This exhibition travelled to the prestigious Standard Bank Gallery in Johannesburg. This was followed in Cape Town in 2005 with an exhibition at the AVA which included the large group of paintings titled : ‘Cabinet of Curiosites – a suite of shadows’, and in 2008 a double exhibition : ‘Figurative Painting’ at the AVA Gallery and ‘Lyrical Abstracts’ at the João Ferreira Gallery.

Since the Art South Africa Today exhibitions in 1971, 1973, 1975, in which he won an award, Pettit’s paintings have been included in many group shows such as the ‘Cape Town Biennial’ 1979, ‘Cape Town Triennial’ 1981 and 1991, and ‘The Bret Kebble Art Awards’ 2003. In 2005 Pettit showed at the ‘Art London’ fair in the UK. Other group shows include an exhibition at the SA National Gallery of works presented by the Friends of the National Gallery ( 2008 ), and “Is there Still Life” at the Michaelis Art Collection and Sanlam Art Gallery ,

Pettit was the youngest artist to be accorded a full article in Esme Berman’s seminal (revised) ‘Art and Artists of South Africa’ and recognition of his work spans four decades to the recent four-volume publication by Wits University: ‘Visual Century’. There have been many articles and interviews. His work has been profiled on several TV arts programs over the years. These include ‘Portfolio’ 1983, ‘Collage’ 1986′ 1989, 1991, ‘Arts Unlimited’ 1995, 1996, ‘Arts On One’ 1992, e TV News 2001, Kyknet ‘Kunskafee’ 2001. Pettit’s paintings have been featured on the covers of several magazines and books.

Public collections that include his work : S.A. National Gallery, Pretoria Art Museum, Durban Art Gallery, Tatham Art Gallery, Pietersburg Art Gallery, Roodepoort Museum, Oliewenhuis Art Museum, Nelson Mandela Metropolitan Art Museum.

The universities of the Witwatersrand, Stellenbosch, Zululand KZN, and Free State have purchased his work, as have many prestigious corporate collections including Sanlam, JCI, Nedbank, First National Bank, Sonnenberg Hoffmann Galombic, Investec, ABSA, and Hollard. The SASOL Art Collection have acquired five paintings.

Michael Pettit lives in Cape Town.