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Wim Blom

Wim Blom has exhibited internationally. His work is represented in public collections such as the National Gallery of Canada, the South African National Gallery, in numerous corporate collections and in private collections in Canada, France, Great Britain, Germany, Israel, Italy, Japan, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Poland, South Africa, Spain, Switzerland and in the U.S.A. He lives and works in British Columbia, Canada.

Wim Blom Paintings Drawings Collages 2006 - 2013 September 7 - October 3, 2013

Ian Tan Gallery 2202 Granville Street Vancouver, BC V6H 4H7 Tel 604-738-1077




Look and you will find it - what is unsought will go undetected Sophocles

Delacroix said that a painting must ravish the eyes... and Rachmaninoff maintained that music must exalt. When the arts do not deliver on such levels, we stand bereft. Wim Blom - Journal - December 2, 1992

In a painting I look for a civilised mind at work. The result should reflect carefully selected contents, be well-finished revealing acute observation, taste, sensitivity and impact. If these qualities are badly balanced, or any of them absent, the end product is invariably second rate - or worse. Wim Blom - Journal - October 30, 1998

I looked at your London exhibition twice, Wim, and each time I realised that you have added a dimension to my life. Letter from Rachel Tennyson

In character, in manners, in style, in all things the supreme excellence is simplicity. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

No mires nunca atrĂĄs vete despacio... Federico GarcĂ­a Lorca


White and blue still life 2012 oil on canvas 71 x 96.5 cm ~ cat. no. 14


To study Wim Blom’s painting is to enter a beautifully conceived secret world of still life and interiors. The uncluttered world is subtly structured and balanced. In its cool, ordered stillness it seems infinitely less ephemeral than the fleeting world of appearances from which it borrows objects, shadows, sensations of colour, form, proportion, and light and shade. It is a gently luminous world. The scale is small and intimate and there is a rare sense of tone. An element of mystery pervades the work. A delicate balance is struck between perception and conception, but in the final analysis what is interesting about Blom’s work is the considerable extent to which it is a construct of the artist’s mind, or more accurately perhaps, a projection of his inner life as opposed to a mere reflection of selected aspects of the visible world. For proof of this it is only necessary to compare the collages with the oil paintings, Despite the enormous difference of procedure and technique, both reinforce each other by expressing exactly the same sensibility. The same poetic vision unifies them. At a time when Modernism, Post-Modernism and Anti-Modernism struggle for attention, and perhaps survival, it becomes increasingly necessary to take each artist on his own merits. Is the art of Wim Blom to be placed in a category? His early paintings were described as Expressionist. In 1986 Alain Vignaut, in a catalogue introduction, classed him with wise reservations as a realist (the small r is unconventional, but no doubt deliberate). “Today realism in painting is a movement that is deeply divided in its outlook. It embraces many contradictory aspirations, flouts many modernist pieties and has already, in a relatively short time, generated controversy even within its own ranks. For these reasons, Wim Blom, who paints in a style which must be called realist, mistrusts fashion and the vagaries of critical taste. In general, however, he has succeeded in maintaining his independence from the principal trends that can at present be included under the heading of realism”. Realism as an art historical category has long been a blunt instrument with which to pin down individuals. At a deeper level there remains the philosophical problem of defining reality. Whether they wish to or not, paintings such as Wim Blom’s, which so successfully and beautifully capture small esoteric corners of the visible world have a paradoxical tendency to raise the question: “What exactly is reality; how far is it subjective or objective? A painting cannot answer a philosophical question on its own physical terms. An enigma remains and with it a metaphysical dimension to the paintings of Wim Blom.


Deserted beach 2008 oil on canvas 65 x 92 cm ~ cat. no. 3


To look at Wim Blom’s paintings initially is to see perfectly depicted, passive objects, chosen for their pictorial potentialities from the artist’s distinctive, private, everyday world. It happens to be the world of a scholarly, well-read, multilingual, widely travelled South African émigré of Dutch descent who has settled in Canada. His paintings in the present exhibition are quite clearly the work of a modern artist, the product of a sophisticated late twentieth century sensibility. The visual and psychological intensity in which [Deserted beach] (cat. no.3) is realised on canvas, and the design and precise geometry of [Mantel-shelf] (cat. no.9) are unmistakably modern in spirit, concept and style. At the same time it is clear that Wim Blom is far from turning his back on the past either in art or life. His work reveals a love of drawing, an unfashionable capacity for careful preparation and meticulous craftsmanship and a successfully digested knowledge of art history. “What he has always admired most in the work of his preferred sixteenth century masters, he has tried to make the foundation of his own painting” (Alan Vignaud, 1986). Wim Blom’s work contains a reminder that the past may remain a beneficial influence on as well as a potent constituent of the present. Blom’s choice of subject matter is surely deliberate and having been chosen it is orchestrated with care. Is there any significance in the fact that almost all the objects depicted here are inanimate? One explanation is the practical one that lifeless objects make impeccably motionless models. My guess is that the artist wishes to breathe life, not necessarily into a particular subject or object, as Morandi, for example breathes life into painting of jars and vases. The vitality of art is of a different order from the vitality of nature. In Wim Blom’s case to appropriate the life from a living thing would be to destroy the general feeling of mood of the pictures shown here. Despite the lack of animate objects, there is the atmosphere in all the paintings of a lived-in environment rather that an artists’s studio. Human presence, especially the presence of the artist himself, is implicit. Whereas a photograph tends to repay a glance which lasts no longer than the length of the exposure, even a modest sized rectangle of canvas slowly and thoroughly covered with thin glazes of oil paint until the image is brought to completion, repays being looked at again and again. To look at a painting by Wim Blom is an invitation to meditate. It could be said that the actual painting of these pictures involved a prolonged form of meditation. In Blom’s case no evidence remains of the effort and pain that inevitably accompanies the birth of any work of art. The spectator is drawn by empathy towards the artist’s unique mentality which includes his profound skill and patience in making and watching a work of art grow to completion.

Mark Glazebrook Reginald Mark Glazebrook (1936 - 2009)

Gallery director, curator, critic

The above review, written for the catalogue of Wim Blom’s London exhibition, displays insight as valid today as at the time of writing. Publishing the review in this catalogue for his Vancouver exhibition, is a gesture of respect and admiration and expresses Wim Blom’s gratitude to Mark Glazenbrook.


The inner room 2011 oil on canvas 66 x 71 cm ~ cat. no. 6


Leeks on a copper vessel 2011 oil on canvas 61 x 71 cm ~ cat. no. 8


Mantel-shelf 2011 oil on canvas 51 x 51 cm ~ cat. no. 9


The marbletop table 2011 oil on canvas 56 x 61 cm ~ cat. no. 7


Empty birdcage 2013 oil on panel 45.7 x 56 cm ~ cat. no. 15


The broken cup 2012-13 egg tempera on panel 28 x 35.5 cm ~ cat. no. 13


Study for a still life 2012 graphite and colour pencils on paper 230 x 335 mm ~ cat. no. 18


The dusty bottle 2013 oil on panel 51.4 x 61.6 cm ~ cat. no. 17


Table in the sunlight 2013 oil on canvas 71 x 86.3 cm ~ cat. no. 16


Storm over Venice 2008 collage 14 x 15 cm ~ cat. no. 21


Catalogue Paintings 1




2006 oil on canvas 30.5 x 56 cm

2007 egg tempera on panel 22 x 27.4 cm 2008 oil on canvas 65 x 92 cm


Empty birdcage


Table in sunlight


The dusty bottle

Two valencian jugs 2009 oil on canvas 51 x 66 cm

The inner room

2010 oil on panel 46.5 x 47.5 cm 2011 oil on canvas 66 x 71 cm 2011 oil on canvas 56 x 61 cm

Leeks on a copper vessel



Two pomegranates

2012 oil on panel 46.3 x 61 cm

2013 oil on panel 45.7 x 56 cm

2013 oil on canvas 71 x 86.3 cm

2013 oil on canvas 51.4 x 61.6 cm

Two bowls


Study for a still life

2010 charcoal and colour pencils on French paper 305 x 415 mm 2012 graphite and colour pencils on paper 230 x 335 mm

Collages 20

Receipt for reparations in 1802


Storm over Venice

The red cabinet 2011 oil on canvas 61 x 71 cm

2012 oil on canvas 71 x 86.3 cm


2011 oil on canvas 61 x 71 cm 2011 oil on canvas 51 x 51 cm

2012-13 egg tempera on panel 28 x 35.5 cm


The marbletop table



White and blue still life

Deserted beach




Fo blue

Loaf of bread


The broken cup

With a nijmegan box




2006 collage 20 x 17.5 cm 2008 collage 14 x 15 cm

On a shelf

2012 oil on panel 25 x 60 cm

Dimensions in centimetres. Height precedes width


Wim Blom Biography

Born in Germiston, South Africa, 1927

Education B.A. Hons., M.A., University of the Witwaterrsrand, Johannesburg Post-graduate studies at the University of Edinburgh and at the University of Perugia, Italy Studied painting in Florence, Italy, and graphic techniques at the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology, Calgary Studied lithography at the Instituto Allende, San Miguel de Allende, Mexico.

Appointments Lecturer, Department of Fine Arts, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg Instructor in drawing, Johannesburg Art School Assistant to the Curator, Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto Research Curator, National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa Curatorial Administrator, National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa On several occasions acted as Commissioner for the Canadian entries at the Venice Biennale, Italy, and at the Sáo Paulo Bienal, Brazil.

Publications Author of a variety of exhibition catalogues, articles and historical studies in painting An Illustrated Guide to the Collections of the National Gallery of Canada An Overview of Flemish, Dutch and German Paintings in the National Gallery of Canada Editor of the Bulletin of the National Gallery of Canada.

Awards 1957 Dante Alighieri Gold Medal, Fine Arts Society of Florence, Italy 1979 Medalla de honor, XVII Salón de Primavera, Atenéo de Mahón, Spain 1982 Primo Premio, Certámen Internacional de Pintura, Mahón 1998 Fellowship, The Ballingen Arts Foundation, Ballycastle, County Mayo, Republic of Ireland


Selected Solo Exhibitions

Public Collections

Selected Bibliography

2013 Ian Tan Gallery, Vancouver 2010 Ian Tan Gallery, Vancouver 2007 Ian Tan Gallery, Vancouver 2004 J. Mitchell Gallery, Salt Spring Island 2002 Vortex Gallery, Salt Spring Island 2000 Vortex Gallery, Salt Spring Island 1998 Vortex Gallery, Salt Spring Island 1993 Nancy Poole’s Studio, Toronto 1990 Nancy Poole’s Studio, Toronto 1988 Albemarle Gallery, London, UK 1986 International Gallery, Cape Town 1984 Goodman Gallery, Johannesburg 1979 La Galeria, Mahón, Menorca, Spain 1974 South African Association Gallery, Johannesburg 1969 Durban Art Gallery and Museum 1963 Blue Barn Gallery, Ottawa

National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa

Dictionary of International Biography, Cambridge and London, Vol. 11, 1975, p.186

Selected Group Exhibitions

Sandton City Collection, South Africa

Kelowna Art Gallery, British Columbia Queen’s University, Kingston, Ontario Imperial Oil, Toronto Sage Corp. Communications, Toronto Ayuntamento de Mahón, Menorca, Spain Consell Insular, Mahón, Menorca, Spain South African National Gallery, Cape Town Johannesburg Art Gallery Durban Art Gallery and Museum Pretoria Art Museum William Humphreys Art Gallery, Kimberley Taham Art Gallery, Pietermaritzburg Ann Bryant Art Gallery, East London Pietersburg Art Museum, South Africa Roodepoort Art Museum, South Africa Teachers Training College, Johannesburg

Oliver Knight, Wim Blom in Kaleidoscope, Johannesburg, 1977 Miguel Angel Limón, “ Wim Blom, una vida entregada al arte”, Diario de Menorca, 9 September 1982, p.6 Esmé Berman, Art and Artists of South Africa, Cape Town, 1983, pp.65-66 Alain Vignaud, Introduction, exh. cat., Gallery International, Cape Town, 1986 Sheree Lissoos, Johannesburg Art and Artists: Selection from a Century, Johannesburg Art Gallery, 1986, pp 47-48, 58 Mark Glazebrook, Wim Blom, exh. cat., Albemarle Gallery, London, United Kingdom, 1988

Catalogue of the National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa, Canadian Art , Vol.1, National Galley of Canada, Ottawa, 1988, pp.97-98 L. Schmidt, The Sasol Art Collection, The Penrose Press, Johannesburg, 1988, p.iii and p.11 Lucy Alexander, 150 South African Paintings, Past and Present , Struikhof Publishers (Pty) Ltd., Cape Town, 1990, p.122


“Images from North Mayo”, The Ballinglen Arts Foundation, Courthouse Gallery, Ballycastle, Republic of Ireland

South African Institute of Architects, Johannesburg


Toronto International Art Fair

University of South Africa, Pretoria


“Certámen Internacional de Pintura”, Mahón, Menorca, Spain

University of Bloemfontein, South Africa


“South African Graphic Art”, Travelling Exhibition, German Federal Republic

Oliewenhuis Art Museum, Bloemfontein


“The Perth Prize for Drawing International”, Western Australian Art Gallery, Perth

Standard Bank Corporate Art Collection, Johannesburg


“Blom, Gentillini, Ortega”, Lidchi Gallery, Johannesburg

Shell Company, South Africa


“Prima Mostra Internazionale di Pittura”, Vallombrosa, Italy

Kangra Holdings, Johannesburg


“Prima Mostra di Artisi Residenti in Firenze”, Casa di Dante, Florence


“Art 5 ‘74”, International Art Fair, Basel


“Art 4 ‘73”, International Art Fair, Basel


“Summer Exhibition”, Gallery Schulze-Theiler, Münster



“Six Canadian Painters”, Picture Loan Gallery, Toronto

Photography by David Borrowman, Salt Spring Island, BC


“Canadian Prints, Drawings & Watercolours”, National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa

University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg Randse Afrikaanse Universiteit, Johannesburg

South African Arts Association, Johannesburg Sasol Art Museum, Stellenbosch

Catherine Castelfranco, Introduction, Exhibition of Paintings by Wim Blom, Vortex Gallery, Salt Spring Island, BC, 1998 Alain Vignaud, Introduction, Exhibition of Paintings by Wim Blom, J. Mitchell Gallery, Salt Spring Island, BC, 2004 Mark Glazebrook, Wim Blom Seen Today, exh. cat., Ian Tan Gallery, Vancouver, BC, 2007

Rand Merchant Bank, Johannesburg Mobiloil, Cape Town

Design by MalcolmDesign, Salt Spring Island, BC Photograph of the artist by Claudia Schultheis, Berlin Cover: Loaf of bread, 2010, oil on canvas, 46.5 x 46.5 cm ~ cat. no. 5


Wim Blom


ian tan gallery

Vancouver, BC Canada

Profile for Ian Tan

Wim Blom / Ian Tan Gallery 2013  

Painter Wim Blom received his BA and MA from the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg as well as receiving degrees from the Universit...

Wim Blom / Ian Tan Gallery 2013  

Painter Wim Blom received his BA and MA from the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg as well as receiving degrees from the Universit...