Art-Science engagements: Karel Nel's brilliant darkness

In this dialogue, I explore the challenging and increasingly important concept of Art~Science creative collaboration with one of the leading International practitioners in this field, the South African artist, Karel Nel. Until 2017, Karel was an Associate Professor in the department of Fine Arts at Wits, and is an internationally regarded artist as well as a curator and scholar of African, Asian, and Oceanic art from the late 19th and 20th centuries. This dialogue focuses on his work that crosses the boundaries between science and art and the relationship this work has to his deep interest in traditional, particularly African, art forms.

Karel has been the artist-in-residence on the COSMOS astronomical project since the launch of the project in 2004. COSMOS, one of the largest international astronomical projects ever conducted, is an investigation into the origins and evolution of the Universe and Karel has been an integral member of the scientific team. In addition, over much of his career as an artist, Karel has also worked in the field of palaeontology, inspired by the proximity of his family home to the Cradle of Mankind and his creative collaborations with world class palaeontologists at Wits such as Professor Phillip Tobais.
Some useful links:
Karel’s London gallery, with online versions of exhibition catalogues:
The COSMOS project site:
Nechama Brodies’s account of the Life of Bone exhibition at Wits Origins Centre. The exhibition catalogue is available from Wits University Press at the same link or from Wits Libraries.

The Feedspot survey of international art school podcasts - the ARA dialogues were rated one of the top 10 by Feedspot users - can be found at
20 Jan 2022 English South Africa Arts · Education

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