Arab Priest stays a bit longer

Irma Stern Arab Priest

Because of the global response to the Covid-19 pandemic, Arab Priest, a masterpiece by South African artist Irma Stern, will remain on exhibition at the Javett Art Centre at the University of Pretoria (Javett-UP) for now. Once the global pandemic has been halted, the work will be returned to the Qatar Museums in Doha, Qatar.

Arab Priest is one of more than 100 important, impressive and beautiful South African works of art currently on exhibition at Javett-UP until the end of June.

In addition to Arab Priest, there are also original works by artists Gerard Sekoto, JH Pierneef, Maggie Laubser, Pippa Skotnes, William Kentridge, Jackson Hlungwani, Cecil Skotnes, Helen Sebidi, Sam Nhlengethwa and others. Together, these works represent exceptional examples of some of South Africa’s most important artists.

The Qatar Museums Authority acquired the Arab Priest for its Orientalist Museum, one of the Qatar Museums. According to Iziko Museums of South Africa, this is the first-ever acquisition of a work of art representing a Muslim subject by a major South African artist for a prestigious art museum in the Arab world.

When the Arab Priest was sold to Qatar Museums, the South African Heritage Resources Agency was reluctant to allow the work to leave the country as it is considered to be a national treasure. In a mediated settlement, the work was allowed out on a 20-year “loan”, on condition that it returns to South Africa one year in every five to be exhibited in the country of its origin.

Put the exhibition on your to-do list as soon as it is socially responsible to gather again, and make sure that you see Arab Priest before it returns to Qatar. It remains a priceless piece of South Africa’s heritage.

See it as soon as you can!