Early Life and Education

Hendrik (Cornelis Gijsbertus) Kolenberg was born in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, on July 31, 1946, to Gijsbertus Anthonius Kolenberg and Wilhelmina Maria Kolenberg (née Schellaars). In October 1952, the Kolenberg family emigrated to Australia, where Hendrik began his education. He attended Black Forest Primary, Forbes Primary, and Plympton High School in Adelaide.

Artistic Beginnings

Kolenberg’s passion for art was evident from a young age. He took private lessons in oil painting from Carl Lock in Adelaide from 1962 to 1963 and from Kas Vandelaar, a relative, in 1964. This early training laid the foundation for his future career in the arts.

Academic Pursuits and Early Teaching Career

From 1965 to 1967, Kolenberg studied at the South Australian School of Art and the Western Teachers’ College in Adelaide, earning a Diploma in Teaching Art in 1968. He then taught art in secondary schools in South Australia, including Angle Park Boys Technical High School and Kimba High School, from 1968 to 1971. In 1972, he became an Education Officer at the Art Gallery of South Australia in Adelaide.

Hendrik Kolenberg Yellow crane, Rotterdam 2018 oil on gesso on linen on plywood 63 x 73cms (Orange Regional Gallery collection).

International Experience

In 1973, Kolenberg lived in Rotterdam and then London, where he taught art part-time at Tooting Bec Comprehensive. In 1974, he received a Netherlands Government Scholarship to study 19th-century Dutch art in the Print Rooms of Dutch museums and at the RKD (Netherlands Institute for Art History) in The Hague.

Return to Australia and Curatorial Roles

After returning to Australia, Kolenberg taught art at Glenunga High School in Adelaide in 1975. He then embarked on a significant curatorial career, beginning as Assistant Curator and later Curator of Prints and Drawings at the Art Gallery of Western Australia in Perth from 1976 to 1980. He served as Curator of Art at the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery in Hobart from 1980 to 1988. During this period, he was awarded the Harold Wright and Sarah and William Holmes Scholarships to study at the Print Room of the British Museum in London in 1982.

Hendrik Kolenberg Hargrave Street, Australia Day 2006 oil on gesso on linen on plywood 67.5 x 55cms

Senior Curatorship and Contributions to Australian Art

In 1989, Kolenberg was appointed Curator of Australian Prints, Drawings, and Watercolours at the Art Gallery of New South Wales (AGNSW) in Sydney, the then senior curator in 1995, a position he held until his retirement in December 2012. Throughout his career, he organised numerous exhibitions and authorised extensive catalogues on Australian art and artists, including Robert Juniper, Fred Williams, Jan Senbergs, Francis Lymburner, and many others. Notably, he was responsible for the major bicentennial exhibition “Tasmanian Vision: The Art of Nineteenth-Century Tasmania” in 1988.

Publications and Editorial Work

Kolenberg initiated and edited the Bulletin of the Art Gallery of Western Australia in 1979 and The Art Bulletin of Tasmania from 1983 to 1986. He compiled three standard print references on Lloyd Rees (1986), Roger Kemp (1991), and Jan Senbergs (2008). Additionally, he authored illustrated catalogues of the AGNSW’s collection, including Australian watercolours, drawings, and prints from various periods.

Later Works and Retirement

Before retiring, Kolenberg organised the popular exhibition “Intensely Dutch: Image, Abstraction and the Word, Post-War and Beyond” at the AGNSW in 2009 and authored its catalogue. He also produced a book on the AGNSW’s Lloyd Rees collection, titled “Lloyd Rees: Paintings, Drawings, and Prints” (2013). Post-retirement, Kolenberg and his wife co-authored “Kevin Lincoln: Art and Life” (2006) and were responsible for books on the drawings of Peter Kingston and George Davis.

In 2019, he co-authored “Theo Kuijpers & Australia” with Rick Vercauteren, published in the Netherlands.

Kolenberg has had a number of exhibitions of his own paintings and drawings, some of which are in public collections.

Hendrik Kolenberg Yellow fence (The Nook, West Ryde) 2016 oil on gesso on linen on plywood 59 x77cms

Solo & joint exhibitions:

Tony Palmer Fine Art, Sydney 1996, 1997, 1999

Anne von Bertouch Gallery, Newcastle 2000

‘At home’, Sydney 2002, 2006

Het Kunstmagazijn, Dordrecht, August 2003

‘Hendrik Kolenberg, Walking about in Sydney’ Manly Art Gallery, Sydney May 2008

‘Hendrik Kolenberg, Roofscapes’ A-M Gallery, Sydney 17 July-10 August 2013

‘Hendrik Kolenberg in Delft and Rotterdam’ A-M Gallery, Sydney 5-29 November 2014

‘Hendrik Kolenberg, two cities’ Gallery Klei, Sydney 7-28 April 2017

‘Hendrik Kolenberg & Evan Salmon’ May Space, Sydney 29 January-16 February 2020

Alexandra Sasse, Melbourne 8 April-1 May 2021

‘Hendrik Kolenberg, Urban/Industrial’ Orange Regional Gallery 30 July-25 September 2022

‘Sydney roofscapes’ Gallery Lowe and Lee, Sydney 26 April – 25 May 2024

Group exhibitions:

‘They came to Australia’ Bathurst Regional Art Gallery 5 September-14 October 2001

‘The Europeans’ Taylor Galleries, Sydney July 2008

‘Seventh Drawing Biennale’ Drill Hall Gallery, Canberra, November-December 2008

‘Christmas exhibition’ Taylor Galleries, Sydney 2008, 2009, 2010

‘Song of the swan’ (Farewell exhibition) Taylor Galleries, Sydney January 2010

‘Seven artists’ (selected by Max Taylor) Artsite, Sydney 11-27 February 2011

‘Drawing’ King Street Gallery on William, Sydney 17 February-15 March 2014

‘Still life’ Gallery Klei, Sydney 7-18 October 2016

‘Vibrations in Australian drawing’ Macquarie University Gallery, Sydney 19 July-19 October 2023

Hendrik Kolenberg Roof sculpture Eastwood 2020 oil on gesso on linen on plywood 55 x 78cms


Meryl Ryan ‘Weekend art – Change in the wind’ Newcastle Herald 26 February 2000

‘Stadsgezichten gezien door Australische ogen’ De Dordtenaar (Dordrecht, Netherlands) 28 Augustus 2003

Elizabeth Fortescue ‘Steps of life in the back streets’ Daily Telegraph, Sydney 18 April 2008

Hendrik Kolenberg Walking about in Sydney 2008 (self published book)

Elizabeth Cross Seventh drawing biennale Drill Hall Gallery Canberra 2008

Michael Fitzgerald ‘Open Gallery – Roofscapes’ Spectrum, Sydney Morning Herald 10-11 August 2013

Tania Creighton The Watters gift UTS Gallery, Sydney 2020 p35 (illus in colour p59)

Bradley Hammond ‘Hendrik Kolenberg, Yellow crane’ Collection highlight Orange Regional Gallery 2020; Introduction ‘Hendrik Kolenberg, Urban/Industrial’ exhibition catalogue Orange Regional Gallery 2022

Hendrik Kolenberg Paintings 1968-2020 2021 (self published book)

Paul McGillick, Tom Murray, Rhonda Davis Vibrations in Australian drawing Sydney, Macquarie University Gallery, 2024

Public collections:

National Gallery of Australia, Canberra; State Library of NSW, Sydney, Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery, Hobart; Bathurst Regional Art Gallery, Orange Regional Gallery, University of Technology, Sydney, Macquarie University Gallery, Sydney

See also

SBS Video – Hendrik Kolenberg – Renaissance to Goya, moment opnamen #1- 16-9-2013

SBS Video – America Painting a nation: Hans Hofmann/ an overview with Hendrik Kolenberg 21-11-2013

SBS Video – Interview with Hendrik Kolenberg – Roofscapes exhibition 21-11-2013