Gregoire Boonzaier was born in Newlands, Cape Town in 1909. He was the son of the political cartoonist, DC Boonzaier, and benefited from the close contact with his father’s artist friends, including Pieter Wenning, Nita Spilhaus and Moses Kottler, the sculptor. DC Boonzaier was strongly opposed to formal art training, and Gregoire’s initial studies were possible through association with these early Cape impressionist painters.

In 1923, at the age of 14, his first two oil paintings were exhibited at Ashbey’s Gallery in Cape Town – his first successful one-man exhibition was held there two years later. Gregoire went on to hold more than 100 solo exhibitions during his extensive career of more than eighty years. As a founder member of the New Group with Terence McCaw, Frieda Lock, Lippy Lipshitz and others, he was elected its first chairman in 1938. The New Group rendered an invaluable service to the cause of South African art for almost 15 years. Gregoire Boonzaier died on 22 April 2005, a few months before his 96th birthday, having lived an extraordinary life and productive career, during which he was able to serve as a mentor and teacher to generations of South African artists and art lovers.

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