Frank Kilbourn can’t pinpoint why he is drawn to abstract art, but he can remember the day it began to intrigue him and the artwork that converted him: an Eduardo Villa sculpture that he encountered as a student at the then Rand Afrikaans University. While he was blown away by Villa’s architectonic forms, his father remarked that the artist was "a great welder". Kilbourn, the founder of the Bright group and chairman of Strauss & Co, skipped a lecture to listen to a talk by Villa and Walter Battiss, which he claims "carried me over the threshold, so to speak, into abstract art". A visit to the restored manor at Welgemeend in Cape Town, where Kilbourn’s collection of art from the 1950s to the 1970s is on display in a month-long exhibition sponsored by Strauss & Co, shows that he immersed himself in abstract art. Each room presents a discrete sub-movement from this era. In one are works by Walter Battiss, Alexis Preller, Cecil Skotnes and Cecily Sash that stand at the fringe between fi...

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