Fred Schimmel (1924-2009)

Artwork by Fred Schimmel

Born in Amsterdam. Studied 1947, very briefly, at the Kunstnijverheidsschool, Amsterdam. (Now called the Rietvelt Academie) Emigrated to South Africa in 1948.

Fred Schimmel, a young man from Holland, whose parents has been active in supporting victims of the Nazi occupation, and whose imagination was stirred by music which spoke to optimism and images which suggested freedom.

Fred had seen for himself the underage soldiers employed by the Third Reich in the closing months of the war. He knew what deprivation, hunger and the destruction of ancient cities was like, and he looked to the future and the healing need for ‘fun’. This word, a favorite of Fred’s, is typical of his laconic unpretentiousness, his dismissal of manifestos.

Gradually losing his hearing while trying to learn a new language, looking for work in a provincial and artistically unsophisticated colony, trying to find his niche in an alien society. Typically, he found work at a commercial printer and learnt the rudiments of what would become an adventure in producing fine art prints for the modest collector – the Graphics Club (founded in 1970). He also befriended some extraordinarily public-spirited fellow artists like Cecil Skotnes and was an early teacher at the famous Polly Street Art Centre. And the quiet pursuit of ‘fun’ continued with great seriousness.

Throughout his prolific career of close to six decades, Fred’s work testifies to masterly techniques and an intense engagement with material while crossing the boundaries of genre and style. His rich and varied artistic output is evidence of his versatility as painter, graphic artist, and designer.