Gregoire Boonzaier 1909-2005

Gregoire Boonzaier was born on 31st July 1909 into an art environment, the fifth child of a political cartoonist and a connoisseur and theatre critic. He began to draw in 1915 and began painting in watercolour, and was awarded various art prizes during his school years. The artist Pieter Wenning became a good friend of the family during these years, and regular visitor to Boonzaier's family home. In 1923 the sculptor Moses Kottler bought Boonzaier a paint box containing oil tubes and brushes. Boonzaier immediately signed his painting 'Gregoire', as opposed to 'Boonzaier', which his father used to sign his cartoons and weekend painting efforts. Gregoire's works are deemed suitable to be exhibited by his father just one year later. In 1926 Gregoire was given an easel by the painter Nita Spilhaus, which was repaired many years later by his son Emile and is still in the family's possession. The first solo exhibition of Gregoire's work was only held in 1928, at Ashbey, and was arranged by his father. More exhibitions followed, including exhibitions at Darter in Cape Town, Stellenbosch, Derry and Lezard in Johannesburg. Gregoire's father allowed him to keep a certain allowance of the proceeds for himself. Gregoire's later depictions of the Cape atmosphere show definite influences of the Hague School.