Rijk Melck, custodian of the historic Muratie Estate in Stellenbosch, is donating a generous prize to the art student who is judged to be the winner of the best painting showcased at Stellenbosch University’s Gradex 2014 exhibition.
28 years ago Rijk’s parents, the legendary Ronnie and Annatjie Melck, were the proud sponsors of an annual Stellenbosch University art prize. This art prize paid tribute to well-known German artist and winemaker George Paul Canitz, the previous owner of Muratie who was also a part-time art lecturer at the University of Stellenbosch. This Muratie art prize, organised together with Professor Honey from the US Art Department, unfortunately came to an end when Professor Honey retired.
“I have wanted to resurrect this Muratie tradition for quite some time. At Muratie we have always had a close affiliation with art – George Paul Canitz’s wonderful paintings adorn the walls in our cellar, and we host regular art exhibitions at the farm – so it gives me great pleasure to renew this annual art prize”, comments Rijk Melck.
Gradex, the annual end of year exhibition organised by the graduating students of the Visual Arts Department of Stellenbosch University, showcases the graduate work from the Fine Arts, Jewellery Design and Visual Communication Design disciplines. It has become a highlight on the university’s calendar, as well as within the broader arts community, as it is an established platform for launching the creative of tomorrow.
The paintings at Gradex will be judged by a panel of independent art aficionados Rijk Melck will award the winner with the prize at the Gradex opening ceremony on 28th November. The winning artist will receive R10 000 cash, a 4-week residency in the GP Canitz Studio at Muratie (valued at R16 000) and the art works of the winning student will be exhibited at Muratie for the duration of the artist’s stay.
About George Paul Canitz
While out riding with his daughter Annemie in 1927, George Paul Canitz happened upon an old neglected manor house. He fell in love with the charm of the place and bought, renovated and replanted this derelict Stellenbosch farm. At Muratie George Paul Canitz did what he loved best: painting, winemaking, horse-riding and entertaining. He produced the Cape’s first Pinot Noir and Muratie’s Pinot Noir was recently renamed Muratie George Paul Canitz Pinot Noir in honour of his contribution to the wine industry. Canitz continued with his painting while he farmed, and, in time, he could hardly keep up as art-lovers streamed to Muratie to buy his work. He earned fame with his nature-scenes and homesteads among rolling hills and oak-trees and painted in a traditional, realistic style, using romantic colours. His medium was mainly oil, but he also liked to draw and paint with pastels. Canitz’s art studio, which he built with bricks made on the farm, still stands today, on a terrace next to the tasting centre and overlooking the garden. And Canitz’s ‘Kneipzimmer’ at Muratie bears testament to the merry parties that took place regularly in this quaint drinking den.