notes, winter solstice 30.06.18

wilna_vanderwalt04hr

Artist: Wilna van der Walt, The orange sellers, oil on canvas 50 x 60 cm

It is as if the unconscious tells me: be patient and bear with it. A new dawn will follow.

The picture was taken by my sister-in-law during a trip through KwaZulu-Natal. What spoke to me most was the relaxed attitude of the portrayed figures.

One must have an attitude of patience and bear with many things. Preparations must be made for change in the future. The fruits of wisdom, love, have real value – something I had difficulty realising for a long time. In this roadside image the two women are now seated, waiting and ordering the oranges, the alchemical balm. There is time to bear and wait, like a mother carrying a child.

The implanting of the upside-down tree, or the tree growing back to the mother, earth, or alchemical process, is supported by the two males – one a man, the other a boy, not yet mature. They are two aspects of the animus. The implanting of the tree brings bout the arrival of the old woman. As the balm, she is the wisdom and helper.

The young woman is preparing to undertake the journey to the holy feminine (purple is the mulberry woman) mountain of their birthright from which they are still cut off by the devil’s fork hedge of the wrong kind of guilt. At first, the truth is carried in projection, on the other side. One has to take up the quest. When one takes others’accusations and projections on to one’s shoulders, one takes on guilt that does not belong to one’s own self. This needs to be differentiated out.

excerpt: ‘The old woman and the moon, an inner journey in oil’ – Wilna van der Walt

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En Plein Air – A Solo Exhibition by Christopher Reid

En-Plein-Airinv

On View 26 March – 21 April 2018

When painting en plein air, I am not merely capturing a visual moment, but conveying
the experience of being there for the duration of the painting. I capture the light, shadows, and clouds when their patterns are most interesting. Smells, sounds, and sensations find their way into the painting and there is an urgency and freshness that isn’t found in paintings from photos. 
– Christopher Reid

Christopher Reid was born in 1975 in the Transvaal. At a young age his family moved
to the US where he later studied at the Savannah College of Art and Design. He founded
an advertising agency and worked as a graphic designer until he returned to South Africa a decade later in 2015 where he now pursues his love of fine art. He is an internationally recognised artist whose portraits, landscapes and wildlife demonstrate
a contemporary realism with an emphasis on colour and depth.

Plein air is about experiencing painting and drawing in the landscape. This practice
goes back for centuries and was made into an art form by the French Impressionists.
Their desire to paint light and its changing and ephemeral qualities, coupled with the creation of transportable paint tubes allowed artists to paint “en plein air”, which is
the French expression for “in the open air.” Today, plein air painting is a flourishing trend in the art world. Artists come together for excursions and workshops devoted
to the practice and find it as rewarding and powerful an experience as it was
for the first plein air painters all those years ago.

Preview work on show https://www.capegallery.co.za/christopher_reid_1.htm

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Something old something new

Time, tradition and change; cycle and re-cycle requires a constant reassessment of what we assign value to in each unique piece of art. How we assign that value depends upon a personal journey as we identify what resonates with us, and what is recognized as being significant in a wider social context of the society in which we live. This context is in constant flux, never more so than now.

This blog is an attempt to take what is in the gallery stock and place it in a date line to unearth the various stories that appear around a physical item. The first cluster of paintings fall into the New Group, a group of young artists who returning from Europe encountered the stultifying inertia in their homeland and decided to group together. They apposed the closed aesthetic of South African Society of Artists.

The four main artists heading the group were Gregoire Boonzaier, Freida Locke, Terence McCaw and Lippy Lipschitz. They had a common desire to form a fellowship of artists similar to the London Group in England. Boonzaier and McCaw organized the group and invited artists from the Transvaal. The aggressive young organisers wasted no time in arranging their first exhibition. Seventeen SA artists were on a show at an opening in 1938. (Berman; 1938)

At a similar time we see the story of Edward Roworth who arrived in South Africa in 1902. A tall man 195,5 cm high, who came to the country with the British Forces in the Anglo Boer war. He remained and settled in the Cape. He was a man who took a more conservative route in the art world joining South African Society of Artists and finally heading it in 1908. He was awarded the directorship of Michaelis in 1938 and there was controversy and criticism as he was accused of a dictatorial attitude and the bête noire of younger progressive artists such as New Group.

roworth

Edward Arthur Roworth – 1880 – 1964

I have compared two building paintings one of the new group artist Charles Peers and one by Edward Roworth. The composition of the new group artist is more unusual as he uses diagonal lines in his layout to make it asymmetrical and dynamic. The Roworth is more solid or traditional in it’s style as the composition divides the picture plane into horizontal planes. A central facade makes for a stable symmetrical composition. The conservatism of the solid composition seems to have been more successful in that Edward got commissions from the South African government and SA house in London.

https://i1.wp.com/www.capegallery.co.za/images/charles_ernest_peers/charles_ernest_peers02hr.jpg

Charles Ernest Peers 1875-194

Roworth did his formal education at Slade school studing under Henry Tonks. He spent much time studing frescos in Florence. Charles Peers studied at a Liverpool art school. He was fascinated by the local shipping activities. He intended to pursue a Naval career and ended up working as a draftsman for a marine shipping agent.

  • 1938 Edward Roworth director of University Cape Town Michaelis director
  • 1938 Charles Peers invited as a member of New Group

Both artists had an interest in travel and stayed in the Cape colony after military service. Roworth seems to have been quiet charismatic as he started up a studio in Burg street with a goal to create a distinctively South African style and joined the South African Society of artists. Charles Peers was elected a member in 1905 and worked at various printing studios as a chromo lithographer. In 1930 he published two folios of lithographic drawings. Peers worked extensively in watercolours and the 1922 he painted in oils focusing mainly on landscapes.

Seeing artists such as Peers and Roworth capture the beautiful South African architecture of the Western Cape is a testament to the high cultural values the people in the area have managed to cultivate through land ownership, architecture and painting. This value has taken over three century to be cultivated through buying and selling tracts of land in order to create buildings that appreciate in value. A more indepth study of the Nektar property reveals a history behind the building still standing today. Charles Peers painted the landmark almost 80 years ago.

The Nektar started as a plot of land near the source of the Eerste river. It was a grant of 25 morgens made to two freed slaves, Marquard and Jan Ceylon. By 1712 the land had been transferred to Anna Hocks a widower in the area who inherited Schoonzicht and took ownership of many free holds in the area. The 6 farms were passed on to Anna Hassler and her eldest daughter married Christoffel Groenewald the second in 1719. In 1762 Jacob Groenewald transfers 2 of the properties. In 1774 there is another transfer from him to two new owners his younger brothers. In 1790 the farms are transferred to Pieter Jacob Du Toit for 31 100 guilders for land that 7 years earlier (1761) was selling for 900 gilders! This can surely indicate that a house had been built. In 1790 Coenraad Johannes Albertyn brought the four lower farms from the Boedel of Anna Hassler. In 1814 Albertyn built Nektar after selling Groenhof. (Fransen 1980)

Looking at the New Group artists relative to more conservative artists such as Roworth it becomes evident that ground needed to be broken for a newer generation of artists. Many had been to Europe and could see that the solid traditional paths layed down in their homeland did not allow for a new way for thinking.

laubser

Maria Magdalena Laubser 1886 – 1973

More experimental artists in the New Group went beyond the traditional buildings as subjects and portrayed nudes. The subject is more ephemeral in nature and was used by early ground breaker members of the New Group namely Maggie Laubser. It was matched by more convensional members such as Robert Broadly. He only joined the group later. and was a well intergrated male artist. Maggie had a conservative up bringing studing at Stellenbosch and moving over seas to work with German Expressionists before the firstworld war. Then she returned to South Africa to her family farm Oortmanspoort, near Durbanville. Here she created her own pastorial style while taking business trips to market her art. She painted numerous portraits of indian and black woman. The drawing shown in the Cape Gallery collection exhibits an uninhibited and more expressive style of mark making. There is an immediacy that is not rehersed or refined, it reflects the rawness of the woodcuts she must have witnessed when working with German Experssionist such as Karl Schmidt-Rotluff in Berlin. Laubser was the first woman to recieve Honour for painting by SA Akadamie in 1946.

Broadley2

Robert Broadley 1908-1988

If we compare her expressive style to the nude of Robert Broadly, his style is much more distanced, refined and realistic. His career as an artist was successful in the Cape Colony as he painted regularly and was asked to do local commssions. He competed with 3 other male artists and won. He was commissioned to paint the Royal opening of parliment in 1947. He was also a good golf player becoming a professional in 1934 but he gave it up for his painting carreer.

This essay has looked at various artworks in the Cape Gallery collection and placed them historically. I have drawn a comparison between the conservative yet solid painting style of Roworth head of SASA and Michaelis and the more dynamic asymmetrical work of other established artist of the time recognised by the New Group such as Charles Peers. The discussions of the history and investment contrasted with the immediacy of female nude drawings speaks of the spirit in the shell of objects owned. In the nude studies I have selected a male and female artist and compared what they have done in the context of a conservative South African artworld. Maggie was not easily given recognition and lived a much more secluded life style as she entered the artworld. A male artist such as Broadley that followed once the group was more established used his regular practice due to his financial means and role in society to create a more realitic artwork. Discussing and comparing the New Group and other artists such as Roworth gives a historical picture of the Cape Town artworld in the times in which they were painted.

Click here to see Cape Gallery Paintings at the new Group.

Bibliography

Berman, Esmé (1983) Art & Artists of South Africa, AA Balkem Cape Town

Bouman AC Dr, (Circa 1950) Painters of South Africa, H.A.UM , South Africa.

Fransen H, (1980) The old buildings of the Cape, Jonathan Ball Publishers, Johannesburg, Cape Town.

 

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Winter Solstice Exhibition: Mandy Spiegel

Mandy Spiegel

Dreamy Boy, oil on canvas by Mandy Spiegel

Dreamy Boy

I have long been fascinated by statues as embodiments of aspirational feeling. Their historical significance is always relevant to a context which can so easily be misrepresented or misunderstood, particularly in a later context. They are sometimes maltreated or regarded as a manifestation of a lifestyle which is no longer understood or relevant. After the Rhodes statue was removed I became preoccupied with their meaning. Dreamy Boy is based on an original watercolour sketch of a garden statuette in the South of France, a whimsical character, who is unsure if he will be accepted. The fish are fertility symbols and represent hope for the future.

Mandy Spiegel

Rwandan Dream, oil on canvas by Mandy Spiegel

Rwandan Dream

Rwandan Dream is a celebration of the women in Rwanda who strive to help develop their country after the horrific genocide in their recent history. This is achieved through mutual co-operation on projects using time honoured traditional methods of carrying and transportation. The atmospheric mountain colours and bold materials which the women wear are a dreamer’s inspiration. The parrot is based on ‘The Captain’ who was an honorary worker in the foyer of a hotel in the Cape Town foreshore and strutted about the reception desk, welcoming all the guests.

Mandy Spiegel

Dream discourse, mixed media by Mandy Spiegel

Dream Discourse

I am fascinated by pattern making and universal symbols/motifs seen in decorative designs. In my early years I saw African patterns and in my adulthood have become drawn to Celtic patterns. In this piece I have examined Celtic patterns and their links to African pattern making and plants. I have created an interaction between them, and the discourse is an intense connection between two imaginary characters surrounded by a patterned environment.

Mandy Spiegel

Dreamscape, mixed media by Mandy Spiegel

Dreamscape

Dreamscape is an extended travel fantasy incorporating a number of images, such as some biblical animals from Chagall’s stained glass windows at Hadassah, and figurines at the V and A museum in London. I have used collage, with pink and blue Korean papers and South African hand soap floral papers. The watery base represents the underworld and swimming. The Orange and blue colours are shades which I love, and are strongly representative of the Old South Africa, which is fading from people’s memories.

Mandy Spiegel

African Roots, oil on canvas by Mandy Spiegel

African Roots

This painting is in dedication to the influences of my childhood in Johannesburg, in the 50’s and 60’s when I visited a collection of masks, figurines, and Bushman paintings or their replicas. I regularly saw Maria Stein-Lessing’s collection of African Art at her home in Melville. Much of her collection was eventually donated to the Africa  museum.

Mandy Spiegel

Tokoloshe, oil on canvas by Mandy Spiegel

Tokoloshe

Tokoloshe is a much loved statuette owned and named by my family.  He was bought in Rhodesia at the time and is a much loved character in the family. I have loved him since he was brought to the family home in Johannesburg in the mid 1970’s.

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In studio with Frederike Stokhuyzen

A recent visit to Frederike Stokhuyzen’s studio revealed her love for colour and nature. Frederike’s upcoming solo exhibition at The Cape Gallery focuses on parts of England in autumn and the Cape West Coast in spring. The exhibition runs from the 12th of March until the 8th of April 2017.

In strong contrast to the massive forests and avenues in the UK, the plains of the Cape West Coast are covered by a mantle of bright flowers in spring. These paintings reflect the African light and the vibrant contrasts of lilac, orange and yellow flowers against the grey slate and blue sea.

After completing her BA Fine Art at Rhodes University, Frederike studied stained glass at the Central School of Art in London. These studies and her use of the palette knife bring a unique faceted character to her painting.

Frederike has held more than 40 solo exhibitions in South Africa and Europe. She has participated in numerous group shows including the Royal Institute of Oil Painters, the Royal Institute of British Artists, the Paris Salon and the Society of Wildlife Artists (London).

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juli Jana chats about Stratagems, her latest exhibition of paintings and graphics

I am not going to talk about the poetical, metaphysical, spiritual aspect of the work although as a poet I would have somewhat to say.

You create because you are and you are because you create.

Every person creates, we are all creative. We create by the way we see, observe, relate, and respond to the world around us.

I  invite you to co-create with me. The artist and the observer both have a part to play.

As a visual artist I have responded to the world around me by painting on canvas, etching onto paper and I have hung the works on walls. Without the observer’s response adding his or her own interpretation, layer or strata, there is something missing, i.e. the works will be incomplete. A painting needs to be looked at, observed and absorbed in the same way a poem needs to be read, listened to and thought about. I invite you each to add your own layer, your own strata to the experience and to find gems.

In looking at the work, some of the words that come to mind are earth, space, movement, colour.

A number of the works relate to the natural world – the land, sky, trees, undergrowth.

In other works the elements of nature, the gems of colour, line or scratching are singled out or abstracted.

Movement, shape, repetition, variations are elements of nature and become signifiers in the exhibition.

Awash by juli Jana, mixed media on canvas

Awash by juli Jana, mixed media on canvas

The painting, Awash, with all its texture gives us an inkling of the  various strata of the earth. In this work made up of mixed media the colour blue becomes an element washing over the soil to reveal stones, sand and gems  – and yes, in the mixed media I used literal sand and stones.  Here ‘BLUE’ is the abstraction, the gem and the protagonist.

So much depends on the way we look at things. I recall standing in a gallery in Berlin looking at the straight rows Richard Long packed with stones. One row was big stones, the other small, the next mixed. He packed them the length of the gallery. Were they out of place in the gallery I wondered.

I have seen where he packed them in nature but here in the modern spacious gallery it gave me the opportunity to reconsider the way I perceive stones. In following the natural rhythm of stones he superimposed his own pattern and rhythm causing the observer to see their beauty more clearly.

This is what makes an exhibition exciting for both the artist and the observer.

I respond to the earth.  See the earth as red, charcoal, black, darkly accented, awash, pitched, patched, cut, emotional, freed, glowing in light, (morning landscape and evening landscape), textured, disappearing into the distance.

Dark accent after rain by juli Jana, mixed media

Dark accent after rain by juli Jana, mixed media

I see the winter trees as bare facts, birthing, the green of the earth as undergrowth and full growth.

LANGUAGE

The patches of the landscape, the thread of the road, the farmlands sharply defined or cut, become a LANGUAGE, a list of words and images that are stringed together, abstracted to thought. They form a puzzle that we each assemble  differently.

ELEMENTS OF THE NATURAL WORLD

There is the Earth and there is the Sky.

The sky is filled with light and clouds. Without light the red of earth will not be red, without clouds the shadowed earth can only be black and not shaded.

I explore  clouds, trace clouds, follow clouds. There is the single cloud, the transparent cloud , running clouds, strung clouds. The earth is under cloud or not.

I refer to the following paintings here amongst others: single cloud, under cloud, running cloud, to cloud.

Under cloud by juli Jana, oil

Under cloud by juli Jana, oil

 

The depth of colour of earth seems to get  its strength when there is the juxtaposition of blue, in the same way the land is juxtaposed with the sky.

COLOUR & ABSTRACTION

The sky is clothed in light, light is reflected from the earth in colour – the warmth of ochre and reds, contrasts of green and various stages of plant growth, depths of blue and purples. Because of the element of light colours get the added dimension of tones.

There is a further layer or strata in our observation of the work we are viewing, namely the reference it has to the natural world and that is not the hills or trees but the light of the sky that pervades the scene. This element of nature becomes a protagonist in the two paintings titled Morning landscape with trees and Evening landscape red etched, giving the viewer back the visual aspect of the landscape with the added element of the light in the sky.

It was interesting that in the hanging we found that these works looked best when they were hung where there was more natural light than electric light. I noted they had painted them where there was lots of natural light.

For me colour in itself is a protagonist. Colour in itself is a painting. It  creates excitement. Without colour the world would be rather dull. Mark Rothko explored colour for the sake of colour, red against red, cadmium red against maroon.

All artists relate to other artists. For me there is amongst others Cezanne for colour and composition,  Mark Rothko for colour and emotion. Kandinsky for composition and abstraction.  My painting inside out is a response to the dizziness of Kandinsky’s work.

Inside out by juli Jana, acrylic on canvas

Inside out by juli Jana, acrylic on canvas

 

I recall sitting for hours looking at a row of Rothko’s red paintings.

I also recall walking up and down in front of Kandinsky’s large works in Tate Modern in London being overcome by the vibrancy of movement and shifting colour.

In the paintings Morning landscape with trees and Evening landscape red etched I also used grit mixed with paint giving it a relief quality. I enjoy working in different mediums. The colours are separated into squares. These squared intervals of colour are in contrast or follow a tonal range of primary and secondary colours creating an abstraction in much the same way Paul Klee uses colour for abstraction. They also allow the viewer to travel through one spatial field after another in the way they are strung in alternative browns and greens and would recall landscapes by Cezanne such as Mountains of Provence.  The sharp red squares dropped into the composition jolt the viewer back to abstraction.

Morning landscape with trees by juli Jana, mixed media

Morning landscape with trees by juli Jana, mixed media

 

Then there is the density of the earth that only the Dutch Masters captured in their etchings, the ‘earthy’ emotion of Van Gogh as he viewed landscapes, birds, farmers and workers. It is often in my etchings that I relate to the Dutch Masters.

In honor of Van Gogh herewith a short poem I wrote:

everybody needs a lunatic
standing in a yellow cornfield
letting words rise like raucous crows
above a lifescape
till a cut off ear
deadens the noise

everybody needs a lunatic
painting words that circle
like black birds on smooth wing
drifting over yellow corn fields
patterning a thousand ellipses
that stars try to follow

Was Van Gogh slightly mad? Perhaps we all are a little mad sometimes.

Van Gogh could say, I am not mad, I am an artist.

In my 3-D work, everybody needs a lunatic, I explored this idea of the lunacy of the artist. Most of the monoprints, such as extravagant rave, flotsam, blue concertina, concertina lunacy relate to this concept. In the last two works I also transformed the flat surface of paper to a 3-D concept. There are also the paintings, scratchings 1 & 2, now and then and the lithos, symphony and feathering.

Everybody needs a lunatic by juli Jana, monotype

Everybody needs a lunatic by juli Jana, monotype

 

We need some lunacy to see shooting stars and the brilliance of colours, the scratchings and marks in our lives.  We give meaning to this.

My use of the word ‘lunacy’ could equate an openness to perceive – and we don’t need drugs for this, all we need is to be aware. So much depends on the way we look at things.

This leads to abstraction which adds another layer or strata to our experience.

Here I refer to the works scent of a woman, cape rouge, V and being physical.

Scent of a woman by juli Jana, monotype

Scent of a woman by juli Jana, monotype

 

Picasso said: There is no abstract art, you must start with something. Afterwards you can remove all traces of reality

The artist uses the shapes, markings and colour of the natural world to create and then moves into a different realm using his own signifiers. Colours become extravagant blotches, lines contradictory, composition suspended. In the monoprints I revert to the abstract building up signifiers.

What is a signifier, what is an object, how does the artist choose one or more. The poet William Carlos Williams wrote about a wheelbarrow, a red wheelbarrow. Why did he choose this topic, why does the artist choose cloud, an indigo blue, a worn out brush to work with – Can it be that just for a moment  something caught his attention, his imagination and he made a choice to follow it through. It is like a piece of string, no one knows its length to start off with, follow it and you will find out, there in lies the excitement.

To view the full exhibition of work online, visit www.capegallery.co.za/juli_jana

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Jeff Rankin: Inverted Angels and White Collar Criminals

Jeff Rankin’s woodcuts and monotypes have been thoroughly enjoyed as part of the Impressions exhibition at The Cape Gallery. In his works, imagined features bleed into everyday encounters to reveal social experiences in a unique way.

Jeff Rankin speaks about Inverted Angels and White Collar Criminals:

Series Title: Inverted Angels (Woodcut prints)

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“The Angels series is a perfect example of my ongoing road quest for props used in the acts I depict: near Bizana in northeast Transkei, a young girl stands in long grass, wearing a sun hat which has to be her mother’s or grandmother’s; in Durban’s busy Grey Street market area an older woman and young girl walk ahead of me on their shopping mission; at the small fishing port of St Francis I gaze down on the boats and imagine into their world a large skyward fish; a cow floats above a Port St Johns trading store; in the town of Alice an unemployed man and the bottle store seem sadly inseparable. I see these events and the people in them as angels of the everyday. The angels are inverted because (as all printmakers know) the woodcut print is a mirror-image of the block, inverted as it were, but also because my thinking is upside-down when I’m recreating these acts. To resolve the act depicted I go through this conceptual inversion, mostly with subtle effect, sometimes more extreme. The two-colour prints were made from separate blocks.”

 

Series Title: White Collar Criminals (Monotype and drawing)

Jeff Rankin, White collar criminals, Monoprint & mixed media

Jeff Rankin, White collar criminals, Monoprint & mixed media

“Titles are important to my work. These three pieces come from my lifelong obsession with bureaucracy and the corporate mindset, how they conspire to devalue the everyday, and how I regard this devaluation as a criminal act. I think the irony of the imagery is subconscious: through it I’m probably asking viewers to play, to use a sceptic lens. These Criminals are part of a larger series which may be infinite. In them I indulge my simple, powerfully therapeutic need to draw.  I return to this subject tirelessly, in various ways, between other things. In this case the colour monotype is done on thin plastic sheet using a variety of tools, objects, inks and solvents; this is masked in selected areas before going through the press; the drawing or painting is then added. The reason for monotype, which by definition allows only one print, is that the press transfers the image in a totally unique way. I absolutely love the effects and will never tire of exploring the medium.”

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