Kibel, Wolf (1903 – 1938)
Wolf Kibel was born in Grodziska, near Warsaw, Poland. Kibel was the son of the Jewish Cantor and ritual
slaughterer of the village of Groditch (Grodzinska). Music was a priority in his home as well as art, a natural family
accomplishment. As a boy he used to carve grotesques from his father’s oil stones. His father’s death brought
insecurity into his life in 1911, after which he was apprenticed to a purse maker, in a nearby village of Kutna,
which he was dismissed at for daydreaming.
His decision to paint was determined by the praise of his teacher Appelbaum, who encouraged him while on
a holiday visit to Grodzinska. He travelled to Vienna from his native Poland at the age of 20 and thereafter to
Palestine where he mixed with artists whose interest in the school of Paris was paramount. In 1929, he accepted
his brother’s invitation, who was Cantor at the synagogue in Cape Town, to immigrate to South Africa.
In 1931 Hugo Naude invited Kibel to Worcester where he taught him the art of etching. The years from 1934 –
1938, during which he shared the Palm studio with the sculptor, Lippy Lipshitz, were the most productive of his
Wolf Kibel did not live to realize his full maturity. His contribution to South African art must be assessed from the
output of 8 short years, by a young man who failed to reach the age of 35 due to tuberculosis.