Artist Claerhout dies

Johannesburg - Acclaimed Flemish artist Frans Claerhout, 87, has died in a Bloemfontein hospital, SABC radio news reported on Tuesday.

He died in his sleep, two weeks after being admitted for pneumonia.

Born in Belgium in 1919, he became a Catholic priest and came to South Africa as a missionary in 1946, ministering to the people of the Free State in Sotho for more than half a century.

He started sketching and painting and in the late 1950s in oil and a variety of other media, producing sculptures, murals, monotypes and linocuts.

His artworks were exhibited in Belgium, Canada, Germany, the United States, United Kingdom, and South Africa.

The SABC reported that his artworks were characterised by their warm colours, thick paint, exaggerated forms, humour and compassion.

In 2002, he caused a furore in art circles when he revealed that hundreds of his artworks had been forged.

He told Rapport that the forgeries were printed and sold as originals by a Bloemfontein art dealer.

He remained inundated with requests for charcoal and acrylic artworks towards the end of his life.

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