Father Frans Claerhout - Priest & Artist.... who also cooks......

"Why paint landscapes when you can empty a paintbrush with women, donkeys and sunflowers."

Father Frans Claerhout's ministry is many things at the same time: priest, poet, artist, missionary, evangelist, advocate of the poor but most of all his ministry has has been to witness what it is to be a human being. His paint brush highlights the stuff of our common humanity and combines it to the hopes and promises of the gospel.
Fr Claerhout never set out to be political, in the recently political sense of the word, but his homilies hang in the homes and political corridors and universities of various persuasions.
Fr Claerhout has developed a unique ministry fired by his insight into himself, his fellow man and woman, and his surroundings. His inspirations hang in galleries all around the world. The churches his missionary community have built with the proceeds stand all over the Free State.
Fr Claerhout has in 1999, celebrated his 60 year Jubilee in the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate. Most of that time spent as a missionary in the Archdiocese of Bloemfontein. He is most keenly associated with the period spent in Thaba 'Nchu (Kromdraai) and Tweespruit where he still resides in a house which can easily be described as a living art gallery. In it, works of many artists local and international occupy a space, which when seen together form a comprehensive art expression of their own. Many of these works have been collected through Fr Claerhout's active promotion of local art and artists. These have mostly been sculptors which in turn have inspired him to experiment very successfully with transforming his unique style into bronze statues which are now being sought after.

Fr Claerhout, doctor honoris causa - University of the Free State in Bloemfontein

Fr Frans CLAERHOUT, well-known Oblate artist, was made a doctor honoris causa last year by the University of the Orange Free State in Bloemfontein, "for his achievements as a creative artist and for his dedicated life of community service." Here are some extracts of the short speech by the Chancellor of the University on this occasion:
"Since 1961, Fr Claerhout has presented many exhibitions in South Africa, as well as in Belgium, his native land, in Germany and in the United States. His work is represented in many noted art collections... His paintings, drawings, statues, and poetry reflect a most sympathetic sense towards humanity, directly derived from his position as preacher of the Gospel.... As priest he served his community in difficult circumstances.... His legacy lives forth through his immense contribution in adapting a sophisticated European art style to portray simple people in a sundrenched South African landscape

OMI Information January 2000

Other references to Father Claerhout on the Web

HASA Health Association of South Africa | African Art and Crafts | Arts South Africa - Hall of Fame | Arts Diary |
A young Admirerer's school Assignment - Christy Lee Folkey