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Trevor Coleman was born in 1936 in Johannesburg. He briefly studied Geology and Chemistry at the University of the Witwatersrand before switching to art full time in 1958. Coleman obtained his Diploma in Graphic Art and Design from the Witwatersrand Technical College (now part of the University of Johannesburg) in 1960. His work was first shown in the Artists of Fame and Promise Exhibition at the Adler Fielding Gallery in Johannesburg in 1959. In 1960, Coleman left for London where he enrolled part-time at the Central School of art to study lithography, textile design and painting. His first showing in London was in the 1961 Painting group exhibition at the Lincoln Gallery in Knightsbridge and in 1963, Coleman held his first London solo exhibition. Between 1961 and 1965, Coleman presented numerous solo exhibitions and took part in various group exhibitions in London, including the Young Commonwealth Artists 1964 exhibition at the Whitechapel Gallery.
Coleman’s first South African solo exhibition was held in 1963 at the Lidchi Gallery in Johannesburg. His second solo exhibition took place in 1964 at the Adler Fielding Gallery in 1964. Coleman returned from London in 1966 and in 1967 presented his hard-edge abstract work to South African audiences for the first time at the Goodman Gallery in Johannesburg. Between 1966 and 1977, Coleman held ten solo exhibitions and took part in several group exhibitions across the country. In 1969, a ten-year retrospective of Coleman’s paintings was presented by the South African Association of Arts (Southern Transvaal Chapter) in Pretoria.
In recent years, Trevor Coleman’s abstract work has been included in various historical review exhibitions including; 1910-2010: From Pierneef to Gugulective presented at the Iziko South African National Gallery in 2010 and more recently in Baroque Meets Modern as part of the permanent exhibition of the Michaelis Collection at the Old Town House, Iziko South African National Gallery. SMAC Art Gallery has previously featured Coleman’s work in a three part series of exhibitions titled Abstract Art from the Isolation Years in 2007, 2008 and 2009. In 2010, the gallery included his work in DIVISIONS: Aspects of South African Art 1948-2010, as well as in two further exhibitions reviewing the abstract period; Abstract South African Art: Revisited in 2011, and the contemporary revival thereof; BACK TO THE FUTURE: Abstract South African Art, Past and Present in 2013.