THE SOUTH AFRICAN
February 2009 • Issue 1 Vol 4 • Subscription RSA 180 p.a • February Print & Distrib. 7 000 copies • Full online version available at www.arttimes.co.za
Bumpy road ahead 2009 will be a trying year for the art world nevertheless local players remain optimistic, writes Mary Corrigall The art centres of New York and London are reeling in the wake of a financial recession. Galleries are closing, the survival and efficacy of public museums reliant on private funding are under threat and auction prices which dropped by 4,5 percent for the first time in six years are expected to sink much lower. The South African economy has been partly cushioned against the effects of the global credit crisis but the message hailing from all spheres of local industry is that 2009 will test the survival of many businesses. The local art world certainly won’t be impervious to the economic downturn, but which echelons of the industry will be the most aversely affected?
bit more and will be compelled to cancel actual projects.
Reliant on government rather than private funding for its running costs and acquisitions (albeit limited), our local museums should be able to weather the storm. However, most are reliant on private sponsors to bank roll major shows, such as Standard Bank’s sponsorship of Marlene Dumas’ Intimate Relations at Iziko South African National Gallery last year. In fact artists, art projects and programmes and award exhibitions are all dependent on the benevolence of corporate companies. Corporate buyers are also a life-line for many a Joburg gallery.
Fornoni is less hopeful about securing sponsorship for some of the bigger projects he had planned for the year. “We had two or three big projects that we are looking for sponsorship, which I think will be difficult to get.” The mood in art world is jittery, says Fornoni. “Everybody is quite concerned and panicked; it is going to be a tough year.” There is much talk abroad that the recession will be beneficial to the art world; that art will become less commodified. Some see the reverse happening, suggesting that with their backs up against the wall gallerists will prefer to invest in “money shows” rather than risky conceptual shows. For a new gallery like Resolution that is still trying to establish a reputation they can’t afford not to do concept shows, says Fornoni.
Standard Bank have cancelled their sponsorship of this year’s Cape Town Jazz Festival but will continue as planned with acquisitions for their collection, says Mandie van der Spuy, the banks’ art sponsorship manager. While Van der Spuy doesn’t foresee any other major alterations to their sponsorship programme she says that the bank’s sponsorship budgets will all be tightened. “The programmes will all remain in place but the budgets will be managed carefully and we will reduce spending where we can.” Van der Spuy predicts that smaller sponsors might feel the pinch a
Ricardo Fornoni, is the co-owner and curator at Resolution Gallery, a relatively new gallery located on Joburg’s ‘art strip’ along Jan Smuts Avenue. He is optimistic that his gallery will ride out an economic recession. “We are more flexible and because we are still small so our overheads are not as high as the more established galleries. There is a good chance that we will make it through this bad path if we keep the quality of our exhibitions high and keep developing new concepts.”
Michael Stevenson, owner of the Michael Stevenson gallery in Cape Town and partner in the Joburgbased Brodie/Stevenson, says that his business felt the effects of the economic recession since the end of last year. Continued on page 3
Not quite all doom and gloom, but always eternally cheerful, Still life with spring flowers by Alfred Neville Lewis (1895-1972) to be seen at the SWELCO’s Decorative & Fine Arts Auction, Cape Town. Auction takes place on Tuesday 24 February - Wednesday 25 February, 2009. See www.swelco.co.za for more details.
South African Art Times.
There’s a Kentridge somewhere up there........
The South African
Hidden art a treasure to find
February 2009 www.arttimes.co.za
Botha, Willie Bester, Brett Murray, Churchill Madikida, Gordon Froud, Raymond Smith, Cobus van Bosch, Arlene Amaler-Raviv, Sanell Aggenbagh, Dale Yudelman, Norman O’Flynn, Liza Grobler, Conrad Botes, Andrew Porter, Kevin Brand, Adrienne van Eeden, Inge du Plessis and Leonard Wichtmann.
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Cover: Lyndi Sales Photo: David Bloomer
But while the entire concept may seem rather strange and exotic to gallery pundits, the Heritage Cache is part of a global phenonmen called Geocaching, in which (mostly outdoor) enthusiasts hunt for objects using co-ordinates posted at www.geocaching.com. Artist’s inspiration,Table Mountain
Photo: Steve Kretzmann
Steve Kretzmann A conceptual collaboration between 21 of South Africa’s top artists - such as William Kentridge, Diane Victor, Willie Bester and Brett Murray to mention a few would have thousands of art lovers flocking to a gallery. But in the two years the conceptual Heritage Cache, conceived by Cobus van Bosch and Arlene Amaler-Raviv, has been running, only scores, rather than thousands, of people have seen it. Perhaps this has something to do with the fact that the work lies
half-way up Table Mountain, buried under rocks and leaves. While this may limit the number of people who view it, the location, and finding it, is all part of the concept. You need to know where to look, be keen to don a pair of comfortable shoes and hike to the site, and then scratch around to discover exactly where the treasure lies buried. The co-ordinates and a global positioning system (GPS) help with what is, in fact, an adult treasure hunt. And what you can look forward to unearthing are 21 objects chosen by artists William Kentridge, Diane Victor, Willem Boshoff, Lien
This activity, which started in 2000 with a bunch of Americans experimenting with the accuracy of their GPSs, has grown to include tens of thousands of participants who hunt for over 720 000 geocaches in over 200 countries. Most of the cache’s are small objects such as toys or artifacts of little worth. Some cache’s are simply a notebook to record that you found it. The Heritage Cache, of course, is an exception. While art lovers would appreciate its contents, geocache enthusiasts who have found it as part of their normal treasure hunting quest have also expressed appreciation for what it contains. Some of the feedback posted by geocachers on the geocache
website were: “Such a pleasure to enjoy some thing arty,” and, “That is quite a box full of goodies!” And it seems van Bosch and Amaler-Raviv may also be contributing to art education, as some people indicated they would need to find out more about the artists involved: “A very interesting cache - now I will have to find out what it all means!” said one geocacher. Originally planned to be part of t he X-CAPE programme within the abortive CAPE07 event, Amaler- Raviv said the idea evolved after Van Bosch met her to talk about her successful ‘Autobiography in Paint’ exhibition which she was putting on at World Art in Johannesburg. She said it became apparent that she and Van Bosch were reading “similar stuff” at the time and she was “going mal” over “the way images in
the universe connect”.
She said Van Bosch started talking about geographical points and GPS, “this amazing new technology” and the concept was finalised “within a day”. She said the response from the artists who were invited to contrib ute found objects worth less than R20 each, was “fantastic”. “There’s even some dagga in there.” She said they last visited the cache about two months ago to check its contents, and everything was still there. No-one had even lit up the dagga zol. And if you’re in Johannesburg and feeling left out, don’t fret, she said they were planning to plant a cache in Jo’burg, “soon”. The Heritage Cache coordinates are 18° 23’40.10 east and 33° 56’54.88 south. And if you don’t
have a GPS, don’t worry, a good map will do.
Nora Newton Marieke Prinsloo Opening Tuesday 10 February 6:30pm 10 February to 15 March 2009 Curator: Mike Donkin
Monday - Friday: 9:00 - 17:00 Saturday: 9:00 - 15:00 Nora Newton, Nguni Cattle at Coffee Bay,oil on canvas, 90 x 152cm Marieke Prinsloo, The Poet Cement fondue, 45cm x 74cm x 26cm
South African Art Times.
Absolutely Gordon Froud
Michael Coulson meets up with the Gordon Froud of Gordart
It’s been a busy few months even for a workaholic like Gordon Froud. Not only has he put together not just one, but two, dazzling exhibitions in part-fulfilment of his master’s degree at the University of Johannesburg (where he also teaches); for the second time in two years his gordart gallery has had to move after finding that a landlord’s view of a reasonable rental was incompatible with the earning power of an art gallery. Mind you, Froud is used to a work schedule that would make most blench. “I come from a poor white background. At one time while I was studying I had five jobs. Nobody told me that sort of thing couldn’t be done. It’s all a question of time management.” And, he admits, a metabolism that requires less sleep than most people. What he sees as chapter three (“And, I hope, the last”) of gordart’s history entails a move to Johannesburg’s Parkwood art strip. It’s smaller than either of his former premises in Melville, and when I last visited him in Melville he was agonising over which artists he’d scheduled for this year could no longer be accommodated. Partly as corollaries to this, he sees two other possible consequences of the move. First, he hopes a smaller gallery with, in
me to become a lawyer or an accountant, but eventually they realised my heart wasn’t in it, and relented.”
Gordon Froud effect, fewer shows will be less time-consuming and allow more opportunity for creating art; secondly, a shift in approach. “I’ve always seen gordart as a developmental gallery,” he says, a philosophy that goes all the way back to the early 1990s when he ran the ICA gallery in Newtown. “Several artists who had their first showings with us have gone on to mainstream galleries. We made the initial investment but others benefited from the resultant higher prices. “That model is no longer viable. While we’ll always remain a developmental gallery, for financial reasons we need a change in focus. So we’re starting to develop a stable of four or five artists who’ll stay with us after they become established.” Froud didn’t set out to become a gallerist, or even an artist, though he admits that as a child he was always making things out of everyday objects. The only way he could finance post-matric studies (he matriculated in Germiston in 1981) was by a bursary. The old Transvaal Education Department offered bursaries in maths and art, but insisted he study art – a subject he took up only in his matric year - where the lack of teachers was greater. “My parents would have preferred
Froud trained as a realist sculptor under Peter Schutz at Wits, learning all the traditional techniques. But for five years after he graduated in 1986 he created nothing. “I couldn’t afford traditional materials, but my interest in unusual materials developed, encouraged by the likes of Karel Nel.” Cups, cutlery, wine glasses, toothpicks and coat hangers, mostly in plastic, all became grist to his mill. He’s proud that his first plastic cup show, in Paris in 2000 during his residency at the Cite des Arts International (later replicated at the African Window, in Pretoria), was one of the first of its kind. By the time of his master’s shows last year, though, he’d progressed from using literally found objects to being a major buyer of these items. He sees no conflict in his roles of artist and gallerist. “Up to now I’ve sold my work through other galleries, but that may also change.” And while he agrees that the art market is in for a difficult year, he doesn’t believe Johannesburg is over-galleried. “We’re continually having to turn away artists who want to exhibit. And on the other side of the picture, we have our own market. We don’t appeal to the millionaires or the corporate market. Our market is the up-andcoming 30- and 40-year-olds, with pockets to match.” Let’s hope he’s right; if he isn’t, the repercussions will be felt far beyond the art market.
Bumpy road ahead continued from Page 1 “Our international collectors have been much more cautious.” Nevertheless he says that he will continue to pursue the same business model. “If you believe in what you do you cannot change strategy.” Galleries will undoubtedly be less keen to take risks on unknown artists but Stevenson believes that this won’t impede the rise of remarkable young talent. “The recession has brought back the focus to the art itself. If you have talent it will manifest and you will find the support. Those without a distinctive intent will battle more than they did before (to get a foot in the door).” The “flush years” as Stevenson terms it may be over but it is business as usual for the Stevenson enterprise which will participate in seven art fairs this year, including the Joburg Art Fair, which runs in April. Stevenson isn’t the only gallerist that is sticking to his guns. So far all 24 of the galleries committed to exhibiting at the Joburg Art Fair haven’t cancelled, according to Ross Douglas, the fair’s director and head of Artlogic. The fair’s primary sponsor – FNB - as well as a host of other secondary sponsors have also remained committed to supporting the event, he says. Douglas is optimistic about the Art Fair and suggests that its success isn’t measured by its financial accomplishments. “Those short on money may not spend at the art fair now but will return to the galleries when they do have money. The art fair is about more than commercial success it is about introducing contemporary art to South Africans.”
JOHANS BORMAN FINE ART GALLERY
Walter Battiss ‘Tahiti’ 35 x 40 cm
A showcase for the best of South African Masters, as well as some leading contemporary artists. Telephone: 021 423 6075 www.johansborman.co.za Mon-Fri: 10h00 - 18h00 Sat: 09h00 - 14h00 or by appointment In Fin Art Building Upper Buitengracht Street, Cape Town 8001 Cell: 082 566 4631 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
South African Art Times.
Polokwane: secret art powerhouse comes to light By Andrew Lamprecht The city of Polokwane, one of the 2010 Soccer World Cup venues, is one of the fastest developing areas in South Africa. Only designated a city in 1992, it adopted its current name in 2003, being known as Pietersburg before that. It may not be the first city to come to mind when one thinks of art in South Africa, but in fact it has a vibrant community of artists and art-lovers and boasts its own substantial art museum, housed in the Danie Hough Cultural Centre. As the capital and located in the centre of Limpopo Province, it is ideally placed as a locus for the important traditional art that Limpopo offers. In addition several well known contemporary artists live and work in this area, including Samson Mudzunga, Jackson Hlungwani, Noria Mabasa, Phillip Rikhotso, Amos Letsoalo, amongst many others. In this town, as it grew into a city, a little known but tireless couple has consistently championed the cause of contemporary art and built up (with modest means) a major collection as well as bringing a love and appreciation of art to the broader Polokwane community. Their names are unlikely to grace the “power lists” so beloved of other publications but in the context of how one can translate the love of art in to the practical, both through acquisition and also support and dissemination, they must be one of the most important, if under-recognised teams at work in the country today. Johan van Rooyen, a medical doctor, and his wife Maria, an artist, have campaigned ceaselessly and in some unusual ways to get art
Maria van Rooyen :Tafelberg (work in progress). Medium: Charcoal, pastel and pencil appreciated in the city. For almost two decades, and with a small amount of disposable income to spend on art, they have amassed a collection of institutional-quality contemporary SA art. Ignoring the fashion for Irma Sterns and Pierneefs, they chose to focus only on younger, living artists and often recognised their quality long before the market and critics caught up. With a keen eye for talent they bought William Kentridge, Kendell Geers, Wayne Barker and Bonnie Ntshalintshali at a time when few other collectors were paying much attention to them. In some ways this type of collecting, informed by a good eye and a clear head and motivated above all by a love of art, and especially art of quality, serves as a good model for those who insist that the art market has crashed. The question will remain as to what type of art has crashed. It seems that the Van Rooyens, who have no intention of ever selling their collection, have still made a wise investment in the things that they choose to surround themselves with. The walls of Dr Van Rooyen’s practice are a veritable art gallery in miniature, being crowded with
some of the most significant artworks produced by the middle and younger generation of our artists. At times these do not sit well with some of his patients who have been heard to mutter that ‘there is something not quite right’ about all this art. Nevertheless in this subtle way, he has caused countless visitors to spend their time contemplating art as they wait their turn to be attended to. The Van Rooyens acknowledge the important influence that Wayne Barker has played in their art activities, noting how he introduced them to many of the artists they subsequently collected and got to know. Indeed it is likely that they have the finest collection of Barker’s art as his mid-career star begins to shine ever more brightly. Perhaps there could have been no clearer sign that Polokwane had emerged from the shadows of its bigger coastal cousins and its neighbours in Gauteng than with the launch of Modern and Contemporary Art: Then, Now and Beyond, an exhibition of ‘41 old masters and 26 contemporary artists’ held as part of the Limpopo Arts Festival last year and spon
sored by Standard Bank. Curated by Dr. Fred Scott and Wayne Barker under the co-ordination of Maria van Rooyen. This was a major undertaking with superb examples from many major names in the history of South African art since modernity, including Jane Alexander, Walter Battiss, Gerard Bhengu, Dumile Feni, Alexis Preller, Marlene Dumas, Irma Stern, Sandile Zulu and many more of the same ilk. This major and impressive assemblage was as a result of a smaller but extremely well received show the previous year, Double 07, and on the basis of its success it was decided to host the event annually. Not to rest on her laurels Van Rooyen has now put together a residency programme for February 2009 in Polokwane, sponsored by Modern Autohaus BMW, and featuring seven contemporary artists addressing the issue of ‘mobility’. In their modest but influential way Maria and Johan van Rooyen have demonstrated that a love for art and a passion for sharing it with their community will always pay off dividends that transcend those of the power-brokers and financial speculators.
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Richard Hart, Swan. Work from his upcoming exhibition entitled: Kind Pockets, on from 25 February - 21 March 2009 at the Whatiftheworld Gallery
SOUTH AFRICAN ART GALLERY SHOW LISTINGS FOR FEBRUARY Eastern Cape East London
Ann Bryant Art Gallery 12 – 28 Feb, Identity, Paintings by Thembeka Qangule & Janna Prinsloo. Until 08 Feb, Queenstown Fine Art Society Bequest.Until 01 Mar, Empty Vessels, Ceramic containers from the Museum’s Collection. 9 St Marks Road, Southernwood, East London T. 043 722 4044
Nelson Mandela Metropolitan Art Museum 05 Feb – 05 Apr, Beyond the Documentary Photograph, Contemporary South African Photography. Until 01 Mar, Empty Vessels,Ceramic containers from the Museum’s Collection. 1 Park Drive, Port Elizabeth, Tel. (041) 586 1030, www.artmuseum.co.za
Oliewenhuis Art Museum 05 Feb – 08 April,Transitions, Exhibition and film, by Paul Emmanuel. 16 Harry Smith Street, Bloemfontein T. 051 447 9609
ABSA Gallery 04 – 25 Feb, About Face: works in mixed media by Marike Kruger ABSA Towers North, 161 Main Street,Johannesburg Afronova Modern and Contemporary Art Until 14 Feb, The Summer Show - Local and African Artists. 14 Feb – 21 Mar, Solo Exhibition by Dominique Zinkpe. Cnr. Miriam Makeba and Gwi Gwi Mrwebi Street, Newtown, Johannesburg, Tel. 083 7265906 www.afronova.com Brodie/Stevenson Until 14 Feb, A Brutal Year, Solo exhibition by Robyn Penn. Until 14 Feb,Project 003, Alexandra Makhlouf 373 Jan Smuts Avenue, Johannesburg T. 011 326 0034, www.artextra.co.za AOP Gallery (Art on Paper) 07 – 28 Feb,(I promise) I love you, Prints and drawings by Terry Kurgan 44 Stanley Ave, Braamfontein Werf (Milpark), T. 011 726 2234 www.artonpaper.co.za Artspace - JHB 04-28 Feb, The measure of success, Sculputres by Collen and Johannes Maswanganyi 142 Jan Smuts Avenue, Parkwood,T. 011 482 1258, www.artspace-jhb.co.za David Brown Fine Art 11 Feb – 11 Mar North by North East (re)visited: an important collection of South African Polychrome Sculpture 1990 – 1994 Noria Mabasa, Freddy Ramabulana, Owen Ndou, Goldwin Ndou, Philip Rikhotso, Johannes Maswanganye, and Samson Mudzunga 39 Keyes Ave,off Jellicoe, Rosebank, Johannesburg. T. 011 788 4435 www.davidbrownfineart.co.za David Krut Art Resources 05 Feb – 16 Mar Swamp Eyes, Curated Exhibition of works of paper by: Ryan Arenson, Willem Boshoff, Wim Botha, Gail Behrmann, Willie Cole (US), Claire Gavronsky, William Kentridge, Alive Maher (UK), Suzanne McClelland (US), Colin Richards, Michelle Segre (US), Rose Shakinovsky, Sean Slemon, Kiki Smith (US), Nathaniel Stern, Sandile Zulu. 142 Jan Smuts Avenue, Parkwood, Johannesburg T. 011 447 0627 www.davidkrutpublishing.com Everard Read Gallery Jhb 12 Feb – 07 Mar, Anton van Wouw (1865
– 1945), Bronze Sculptures 6 Jellicoe Avenue, Rosebank, Johannesburg T. 011 788 4805 www.everard.co.za Gallery MOMO Until 16 Feb, Group Exhibition.19 Feb - 16 Mar, Ransome Stanley, In touch. 52 7th Avenue, Parktown North, Johannesburg T. 011 327 3247 www.gallerymomo.com Gallery on the Square Until Mar 09 An eclectic mix of South African contemporary fine art, sculpture and ceramics. 32 Maude Street, Nelson Mandela Square at Sandton City, Sandton, Johanesburg. T.(011) 784 2847 www.galleryonthesquare.co.za Gerard Sekoto Gallery, Alliance Francaise 02-20 Feb, Wakaba Mutheki, 24 Feb – 09 Mar, Ilana Slomowitz 17 Lower Park Drive (corner of Kerry Road),Parkview,Johannesburg. T. 011 646 1169 www.alliance.org.za Goodman Gallery 05 Feb – 07 Mar, Crocodile Tears, Brett Murray. 163 Jan Smuts Avenue, Parkwood, Johannesburg, www.goodman-gallery.com GordArt Gallery GordArt Gallery (main Space), 14 Feb – 07 Mar, Drawings by Taryn Racine GordArt Project Room (2nd space), 14 Feb – 07 Mar, Sculpture and Ceramics by Julie Lovelace Shop 1 Parkwood Mansions, 144 Jan Smuts Ave, Parkwood, t/f 011 880 5928 www.gordartgallery.com Graham Fine Art Gallery South African Investment Art from the permanent collection Shop 31, Broadacres Lifestyle Centre, Cnr. Valley & Cedar Roads Fourways, Johannesburg.T. 011 465 9192, www.grahamsgallery.co.za Johannesburg Art Gallery Until 01 Mar 09 Disturbance - An exhibition featuring Scandinavian and South African Contemporary Art.Until 30 Mar Retrospective Exhibition -Thami Mnyele and Medu. King George Street, Joubert Park, Johannesburg T. 011 725 3180 www.johannesburgart.org Market Photo Workshop Until 13 Feb 09 Portfolio 08, Exhibition of student Photo journalism, Until 20 March at the Goethe Institute, 119 Jan Smuts Avenue Parkwood In Transit (at the Goethe Institute) 13 young photographers T. 011 834 1444 www.marketphotoworkshop.co.za Obert Contemporary at Melrosearch 05 – 16 Feb, De Profundis Clamavi, Paintings by Paul Boulitreau. 14 High Street, Melrose Arch, Johannesburg, T, 011 684 1214 www.obertcontemporary.com Standard Bank Gallery 03 Feb – 21 Mar I like my neighbours, Oil Paintings, sketches and sculptures by Johannes Phokela, 03 Feb – 21 Mar, Misc. (recovery room), Drawings, notebooks, objects, photos and installation by David Andrew Cnr. Simmonds & Frederick Streets, Johannesburg. T. 011 631-1889 www.standardbankgallery.co.za University of Johannesburg Arts Centre Gallery Until 14 Feb, Modular Repetition,Gordon Froud. University of Johannesburg, Auckland Park Kingsway campus cor Kingsway and Universiteits Rd, Auckland Park T. 011 559 2099/2556 Warren Siebrits Modern & Contemporary Art Until 06 Mar, Prints, Multiples and Photography VI 140 Jan Smuts Avenue, Parkwood, Johannesburg, T.011 327 0000 www.warrensiebrits.co.za
Alette Wessels Kunskamer Exhibition of Old Masters and selected leading contemporary artists. Maroelana Centre, Maroelana. GPS : S25º 46.748 EO28º 15.615 T. 012 346 0728 C. 084 589 0711 www.artwessels.co.za Centurion Art Gallery 02 – 27 Feb, Eben Arts Studio,Art Student Show T. 012 358 3477, www.pretoriaartmuseum.co.za Fried Contemporary Art Gallery 07 Feb – 07 Mar Suburb: digital works, paintings, sculptures and functional objects. Frieda Sonnekus, Eric Suplan, Gordon Froud 430 Charles Str, Brooklyn, Pretoria T. 012 346 0158 www.friedcontemporary.com Pretoria Art Museum PAM - North Gallery Until 22 Feb, Textile Exhibition, South African works from the Art Museum’s collection PAM - Henry Preiss Hall,05 Feb – 19 Apr Kilimanjaro in relation to global warming: origins of the Rift – ordered chaos to a disordered present PAM - Albert Werth Hall,05 Feb – 19 Apr Africa Rifting/ Bloodlines PAM - East Gallery, 05 Feb – 22 Jun, From the Museum’s Permanent Collection,Artists from Polly Street and Rorke’s Drift T.012 344 1807/8 firstname.lastname@example.org Pretoria Association of Arts Until 05 Feb Exhibition of all SANAVA branches 173 Mackie Street, New Muckleneuk, Pretoria, Gauteng, 0181, Tel. (012) 346 3100 www.artsassociationpta.co.za UNISA Art Gallery Until 13 Feb 09 UNISA Advanced Diploma Students Exhibition Theo van Wijk Building, Goldfields entrance, 5th floor. Unisa Campus, Pretoria. T.012 429 6823 www.unisa.ac.za/gallery Alice Art Gallery Roodepoort 25 Feb – 09 Mar Solo exhibition Susan Greyling 217 Drive Street, Helderkruin, Pretoria, T.011 958 1392 www.aliceart.co.za
Art Space - DBN Until 14 Feb Under My Skin Works by Liz Speight, Hermine Spies Coleman & Ann Wakerly. 16 Feb - 07 Mar Sicelo Ziqubu - paper-mache and more. 3 Millar Road, Durban. T.031 312 0793 www.artspacedurban.co.za Durban Art Gallery Until 15 Feb 09, Indian Ink, Indian South Africans in the media: A photographic history of propaganda and resistance. Second Floor, City Hall, Smith Street, Durban T. 031 300 6238 Kizo 19 Feb – 20 Mar National Group Exhibition Watercolour Society of South Africa. Shop G350 Palm Boulevard Gateway Theatre of Shopping Umhlanga T. 031 566 4322 www.kizo.co.za
KZNSA Gallery Until 15 Feb The Elephant Sculpture by Andries Botha.Until 15 Feb, Green KZNSA Gallery Members exhibition 2009. 166 Bulwer Road, Glenwood, T. 031 2023686, www.kznsagallery.co.za Tatham Art Gallery Until 01 Mar, Schreiner Gallery, Into the Light: work by KZN Women artists Cnr. Of Chief Albert Luthuli (Commercial) Rd. and Church Street (Opposite City Hall) Pietermaritzburg. T. 033 342 1804
Northern Cape Kimberley William Humphreys Art Gallery Permanent Collection Exhibition - Includes works of a variety of contemporary SA artists Civic Centre, Cullinan Crescent, Kimberley, Tel. (053) 831 1724, www.museumsnc.co.za
Cape Town 34 Long Until 07 Mar In Storage Paintings & Sculpture from the Gallery Collection 34 Long Street, Cape Town T. 021 426 4594, www.34long.com
Art B Gallery Until 25 Feb,’Stripped’ ceramics by Hennie Meyer. Photographic exhibiton by Stanford artists Annalize Mouton and lampshades by woodturner Attie van der Colff. Library Centre, Carel van Aswegen Street, Bellville T. 021 918 2301, www. artb.co.za Association for Visual Arts (AVA) 09 - 27 Feb, In partnership with Spier:The Dance Paintings by Polly Alakija, Recent Paintings by Jenny Parsons,Recent Paintings by Christopher Zinner A family Body - Hanneke Benade, Keepsakes by Tamlin Blake abd Marlise Keith 35 Church Street, Cape Town, T.021 424 7436 www.ava.co.za Bell-Roberts Contemporary Art Gallery Until 21 Feb Works in Clay and Wood by Noria Mabasa, 25 Feb – 28 Mar.TBC, Paintings by Fahamu Pecou 176 Sir Lowry Road, Woodstock, www.bell-roberts.com Blank Projects Until 21 Feb, Section: video, photography & sound installation, Marie Snauwaert 198 Buitengracht Street, Bo-Kaap, Cape Town, www.blankprojects.blogspot.com Cape Gallery Until 21 Feb, Exhibition of Paintings by Nola Muller. 22 Feb – 14 Mar, Oil Paintings by Robert Koch & Martin Koch 60 Church Street, Cape Town T. 021 423 5309, www.capegallery.co.za Curious, Whetstone & Frankley Until 14 Feb, Warren Editions, Contemporary Printmaking 87 Station Road, Observatory www.curiouswhetstonean dfrankley.com
Erdmann Contemporary / Photographers Gallery Until 31 Jan, Home is my castle: Lien Botha, Angela Buckland, Jean Brundrit, Abrie Fourie, Diek Grobler, Luan Nel, Collen Maswanganyi, Maré van Noordwyk, Nontobeko Ntombela, Jurgen Schadeberg, Themba Shibase, Leonora van Staden, Bronwen Vaughan-Evans and Dale Yudelman 63 Shortmarket Street, Cape Town T. 021 422 2762 www.erdmanncontemporary.co.za Everard Read Gallery - Cape Town 5 – 19 Feb, Exhibition of Oil Paintings by Sasha Hartslief Portswood Rd, V&A Waterfront T.021 418 4527 www.everard-read-capetown.co.za Goodman Gallery, Cape 24 Jan – 21 Feb, Flux by Deborah Bell. 26 Feb – 21 Mar, Review Revue, a selection of diverse works from over fifty years of South African art. 3rd Floor, Fairweather House 176 Sir Lowry Road Woodstock, Cape Town T.021 462 7573/4, www.goodmangallerycape.com i Art Gallery 27 Feb - 12 Mar, Decade:a selection of 83 works covering the last ten years of acquisitions for the Sanlam Art Collection- on tour at the IArt Gallery IArt Gallery,71 Loop Street Cape Town T. 021 424 5150 Irma Stern Museum Until 07 Feb, Distant lands for today’s times - Jewelry by Marion Gottlieb Cecil Road, Rosebank, Cape Town T. 021 685 5686, www.irmastern.co.za Iziko South African National Gallery Until Jul 09, Scratches on the Face. Until 15 Mar 09, Voices of the Ancestors Until 08 Mar, I am not me, the horse is not mine, an installation of 8 film fragments by William Kentridge. Until 15 Mar, Wildlife photographer of the Year Exhibition, Until 22 Mar, Past/Present, Andrew Verster, Breathing Spaces, Environmental Portraits of Durban’s Industrial South Photographic exhibition. Until 01 Mar,at the Good Hope Gallery at the Castle of Good Hope – Iziko Granary Government Avenue, Company’s Garden T. 021 467 4660, www.iziko.org.za João Ferreira Gallery 04 – 28 Feb, Paintings, by Wendy Anziska 70 Loop Street, Cape Town T.021 423 5403 www.joaoferreiragallery.com Kalk Bay Modern George Hallett’s ‘A Photographic Journey’ Opening words by Peter Clarke 21 February- 15 March 09 Kalk Bay Modern, 1st Floor Olympia Buildings, 136 Main Road, Kalk Bay (Above the Olympia Cafe) email@example.com Michael Stevenson Contemporary 26 Feb – 04 Apr,In Boksburg photography by David Goldblatt. 26 Feb – 04 Apr, new Prints by Claudette Schreuders. Until 21 Feb, Cain and Abel,Solo exhbition of new works by Conrad Botes. 15 Jan – 21 Feb, Nollywood,Solo exhibition of photographs by Pieter Hugo Ground Floor, Buchanan Building, 160 Sir Lowry Road, Cape Town T. 021 462 1500 www.michaelstevenson.com Sanlam Art Gallery Until 28 Feb, 86 selected works by the Tafelberg Photography Club Exhibition. 2 Strand Road, Bellville Tel. (021) 947 3359 www.sanlam.co.za
South African Print Gallery 26 February - 28 March Printing Money Selected young contemporary artist printmakers. 107 Sir Lowry Rod, Woodstock. T.021 4626851 www.printgallery.co.za Urban Contemporary Art Until 28 Feb, Pigment on Paper, Michael Taylor, Nicola Grobler, Ilene Jacobs, Adrienne van Eeden and Jacqui Stecher 46 Lower Main Road, Observatory, Cape Town T. 021 447 4132, www.urbancontemporaryart.co.za What if the World… Until 21 Feb The Status of Greatness Debut Solo exhibition by Xander Ferreira First floor, 208 Albert Road, Woodstock T. 021 448 1438 www.whatiftheworld.com
Gallery Grande Provence Until 28 Feb, New sculptures, Angus Taylor. Until 04 Mar, Feast - Paintings by Louis Jansen van Vuuren in celebration of his 60th birthday Main Road Franschoek. T. 021 876 8600 www.grandeprovence.co.za
Paarl Hout Street Gallery Until 28 Feb, Summer Salon 270 Main Street, Paarl,T. 021 872 5030 www.houtstreetgallery.co.za
George Strydom Gallery 40th Annual Summer Exhibition, selected artwork from established SA Artists Marklaan Centre, 79 Market Street, George Tel. (044) 874 4027, www.artaffair.co.za,
Dorp Straat Gallery 10 Feb – 16 Mar Painting and sculpture by Norah Newton & Marietjie Prinsloo 144 Dorp Street, Stellenbosch T. 021 887 2256 www.dorpstraatgalerie.co.za Sasol Art Museum 14 Jan – 28 Mar,Retrospective Exhibition, Judith Mason 52 Ryneveld Street, Stellenbosch. Tel: 808 3029/3695 www.sun.ac.za/usmuseum University of Stellenbosch Until 07 Feb, Masters Degree students (exams), Visual Arts Dept. Stellenbosch University cnr of Bird and Dorp Streets, Stellenbosch T. 808 3524/3489 SMAC Art Gallery 12 Feb – 15 Mar Paintings from 1948 to 2005 by Claude Bouscharain. De Wet Centre, Church Street, Stellenbosch T. 021 887 3607 www.smacgallery.com Stellenbosch Art Gallery Permanent exhibition of Conrad Theys, John Kramer, Gregoire Boonzaier, Adriaan Boshoff and other artists. 34 Ryneveld Street, Stellenbosch T. 021-8878343 www.stellenboschartgallery.co.za Red Black and White 07 Feb – 07 Mar,Exploring lines,Strijdom van der Merwe 5a Distillery Road, Bosman’s Crossing, Stellenbosch, T. 021 886 6281 www.redblackandwhite.co.za
Stanford Stanford Galleries 11-13 Queen Victoria Street Stanford Tel: 028 341 0591 www.stanfordgallery.co.za
Anton van Wouw (1865 - 1945) The Dagga Smoker. Part of the van Wouw Exhibition at Everard Read Gallery , Johannesburg. Exhibition ends 7 March 09
South African Art Times.
Blood Sweat and Hairspray. By Alison Tu: Photographic print To be seen at UCA Gallery, Observatory, Cape Town
Xander Ferreira, The Hunt of the Gazelle, to be seen at his show entitled: ‘The Status of Greatness’ at Whatiftheworld Gallery. Show ends February 21.
Mark Midgley new work is now found at The Atlanic Gallery, CT Work by Deborah Poynton. Poynton will be exhibiting at Michael Stevenson Gallery, Cape Town in June 2009
Wendy Anziska "SHOW TIME!" 4 - 28 February Opening reception: 4 February 2009
70 Loop Street Cape Town 8001 South Africa t: +27 21 4235403 f:+27 088 021 4232136 firstname.lastname@example.org www.joaoferreiragallery.com
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Network, 2008, oil on board
Photo: David Bloomer
Sales’s transcendence of loss sets Paris astir Steve Kretzmann Many artists scorn the use of the word ‘cathartic’. It is so clichéd. But Lyndi Sales does not hesitate to utter the word for me as I stutter through one of those tip-of-thetongue moments. “Cathartic? Yes it was,” she says, with a disarming smile. The question had to be asked, considering her impressive body of work examines the crash of the Helderberg, the ill-fated South African Airways plane that crashed into the Indian Ocean on November 28, 1987, killing all 159 people on board. Lyndi was 14-years-old at the time, and her father was on that plane, returning via Mauritius from a business trip to Taiwan. It is the type of tragedy that can take a lifetime to get over, and rather than flinching from it, Lyndi has delved deep into that fateful accident and the secrets and conspiracies that surround it, with the result that she has produced art which is innovative, imaginative, contemplative, confrontational, surreal and even, controversial. But her approach has not, on the surface, been introspective. While loss may have been an original driving force, it is not something she mentions overtly. It is an unseen undercurrent, dimly sensed. The work is not literal. Its sublime technicality gives it great power and
reach, allowing it to achieve many translations. She has unravelled many a thread emerging from a complex knot. There are works produced by this talented printmaker that, if observed with a virgin eye unencumbered with any background knowledge, could be construed as a comment on the current global climate crisis. One medium sized work (approximately 150cm x 100cm) for instance, is a print of the outlines of the world’s continents with gradations of colour reminiscent of a vegetative map. Upon it the intricate patterns of the lungs bronchial tubes have been incised using a laser, and raised to create a three-dimensional image. Other works, using a similar technique of incision into ‘found’ objects, or “ephemera”, as Lyndi calls it, such as the safety cards or emergency flotation devices found in aircraft, might indicate our collective obsession with personal safety highlighted by the juxtaposition with the delicate patterns of the inner human body…or the vulnerability of the body in transit. The multitude of ‘ephemera’ that Lyndi works with, such as the aforementioned, as well as boarding passes; lottery tickets (the gamble we take when we put our lives in the hands of others); lifejackets; life raft material; ocean bed maps, are indicative of a forensic mind. Indeed, Lyndi’s study of the
Left: Shatter (detail), work for Holland Bienalle Below left: Flight path, Shatter, flight path II (detail). Above: Lyndi Sales Below: Fortunes and fortunes
Helderberg crash and the opaque narrative surrounding it is a mix between that of a forensic pathologist and an investigative journalist. This has served to strengthen, rather than detract from, her artwork. The sound applications of technique, methodology, research and the final expression of that which has been soundly internalised, all contribute to the quality of her work. And proof of this quality is the astounding reception her current solo exhibition in Paris has already received, just five days into the fiveweek show at the time of writing. Despite having just returned the previous afternoon, after setting up her 37 works and opening her show In Transit at the Gallerie Maria Lund in Paris’s fashionable old gay quarter, Lyndi, looking fresh and unperturbed, quite casually notes that about 80 percent of her work there has already sold. This has been achieved in spite of their unabashed price tags and in the midst of an economic recession the like of which Europe has not seen (according to pundits at the World Economic Forum in Davos) since the end of World War 2. Yet anyone who has had the good fortune of seeing one or both of her TRANSIent (2008) and 1 in 11 000 000 Chances (2006/2007) exhibitions which have shown at the Bell-Roberts gallery in Cape Town and Gallery Momo in Johannesburg, might not be surprised at
the success this Michaelis 2000 Masters graduate has achieved. She has no time to rest on her laurels though, her next solo exhibition in San Francisco is coming up, and she says she has only five weeks to recreate a new version of what is her largest and most arresting work: a 3m x 3m installation consisting of 159 hand made, hand cut paper kites supported by bamboo sticks and string. She also exudes a sense that she is looking forward to having these international showings behind her. Not because she may be able to relax thereafter but because, after years of producing an outstanding body of work from investigating the Helderberg tragedy, she is ready to move on. Already there are a few works ready for San Francisco that are moving away, conceptually if not technically, from this theme. ‘Carbon Cloud’ is one. Made of cutout carbon paper, its conception derives from the pattern formed by a global map of computer servers. But Lyndi is reticent when it comes to talking about a line of enquiry that she herself has not quite formulated yet. Suffice to say, like the symbolic Chinese act of letting a kite go to fly free following the death of a loved one, Lyndi seems about ready to let go of the cord that has bound her to the Helderberg thus far. She’ll fly far, I’m sure.
Fanning the Flames What and who is fanning the bonfire in Johannesburg, Durban and Cape Town
ART PIG Alex Dodd With all the gloom and doom surrounding the global economic crisis, edgy speculations pre the April election and constant deluges raining down over grizzly, sodden Jozi you’d be forgiven for feeling like the four horsemen of the apocalypse might just be galloping down Commissioner Street one of these dark days. As ever, the elixir and the raison d’etre in the face of all the morbidity mongering is to be discovered in elegant white suburban cubes, urban warehouses, loft-style studios and industrial parking lots where this city’s undying aesthetes are busy conjuring a parallel universe based on the limitless fertility of thought and the practice of making, crafting, creating and dreaming untold fantasies into existence. It seems to me, there are two things to be excited about now: Obama and art. And, seeing as this is not the Huffington Post, I’ll focus on the latter. Joburg’s art circuit kicked back into action this year with the packed launch of the Robyn Penn and Alexandra Makhlouf show at Brodie/ Stevenson. And I don’t think I’m alone in wishing I was the proud owner of one of Penn’s haunting sky-filled Joburg cityscapes. Now there’s a girl who knows how to paint. ‘The poignant and iconic architectural structures which mark the Johannesburg cityscape, loom in my memory and fill my canvasses as vague remembered forms from the sublime vantage point of my childhood home. They are distant in time, yet present,’ writes Penn. ‘They are in time but also exist outside of time because they are built and preserved to be physically insusceptible to time’s ravages.’ Next was the launch of the Joburg Art Fair at Artlogic’s loft-style offices between the Atlas Studios and the sci-fi gas tower in Milpark. Again the spirit seemed to one of upbeat solidarity in rugged times, as Artlogic’s gung-ho impresario Ross Douglas announced plans for the second fair, due to unfold at the Sandton Convention Centre from 3-5 April. This year’s event promises to be a more hybrid creature, combining art, design and lifestyle, and showcasing the best of contemporary visual culture the continent has to offer. In addition to the 25 leading local and international galleries that have signed up to participate, Tumelo Mosaka (of the Brooklyn Museum in New York) will be curating a selection of moving image work from countries in the
The crowd of night revellers broke into a round of applause when Douglas announced that last year’s specially featured artist, Robin Rhode, has been chosen by BMW Berlin to launch the new Z5 ‘art car’. ‘It’s all very James Bond and we’re excited about Robin Rhode going to great heights,’ said Douglas. And speaking of things turbocharged, Marcus Neustetter and Stephen Hobbs of the Trinity Session seem to have entered this new year firing on all cylinders. They have closed down their Premises gallery at the Civic Theatre to focus their energies on the public art terrain and recently relocated their offices to join spaces like the Rooke Gallery, the Bag Factory Artists’ Studios and the Lilian Street Studios in the Newtown/Fordsburg art hub. In a frenzied build up to the World Cup 2010 soccer action, there is a huge amount of public art activity on the go. ‘The Joburg Development Agency appointed us a public artwork commissioning agents and, by the end of May, we will have completed approximately R4million’s worth of public art spend in the Hillbrow, Berea and Yeoville, including a big tract of land in front of the taxi rank near Queen Elizabeth Bridge,’ says Hobbs. The Trinity Session’s collaborative approach to the relationship between art and the community, involves building a platform of interaction between artists and society that can give rise to democratic expression in public space. ‘Some of the most iconic pieces are by the Artist Proof Studio [Hillbrow orientation sculpture], Winston Luthuli & Spaza Art [Constitution Hill gateway], Maja Marx & 2610 South Architects [Houghton Drive gateway], Marco Cianfanelli [Pieter Roos Park] and Nkosana Ngobese [Yeoville Library], with each artist or collective creating a feature artwork in a specific location,’ says Neustetter. It’s fast-talking, fresh-thinking creative livewires like Hobbs and Neustetter who have the power to refocus our thinking from the dispiriting issues of crime and grime to look anew and see Johannesburg as a city of the future.
A public artwork by Marco Cianfanelli commissioned for Pieter Roos Park by the Trinity Session
THE ART COWBOY Peter Machen Artists often feel that they are a hard-done-by bunch. But they should all thank their lucky stars they’re not a musician in Durban. It’s a sentiment I’ve often quietly expressed to myself as some gifted musical talent gets ignored or derided (usually the former) by an audience more intent on other things. And it was a sentiment that rose to the surface once more at the opening of the KZNSA Member’s Exhibition a few weeks ago where Musa Queen Njoko and her band were performing their radiant brand of afropop as part of the evening’s entertainment. Gallery audiences generally have no problem staying silent for long and dreary speeches (which is not to say that all opening speeches are long and dreary) and I thought they might find it in themselves to at least lower their voices. But no such luck. In Durban, where there is often so much cross-discipinary creativity, audiences often tend to be fairly segmented according to their favoured media. And so no-one bothered listening, instead raising their voices to talk over the gorgeous tunes. Despite the rudeness to Njoko, the opening was a hugely successful event, emphasising what a wonderful contemporary space the KZNSA is, and moving it slightly closer to my dream cultural centre, London’s ICA, where film mixes with music, art, dance and architecture, all in a beautiful social blend, and with a damn fine bar thrown in. And where people listen to the music. Local group shows always bring in generous crowds – the presence of all the artists and their mates pretty much guarantees this – but a substantial portion of the crowd at the gallery were there to view one of Andries Botha’s famed wooden elephants, which was spending a few weeks in the KZNSA’s Nivea Gallery before making its way to the lucky person who commissioned it. Botha’s elephants have achieved something of a legendary status, which is appropriate since their scale, their construction – in fact everything about them – has the ethos and residue of legend. But it’s also because so few people have actually seen them. For many this was a chance to witness something which had hitherto occupied small jpegs and mpegs on the internet. This particular elephant, measuring 2.2metres high, the size of a female adolescent, seemed to me more organic and less structured than the versions I’d seen in cyberspace but perhaps that’s the nature of the real. The public loved them, and I don’t think
I’ve ever seen an artist in Durban so beleaguered by people eager to discuss his or her work. In the moments between, Botha and I discussed briefly the power of this work, how the experience of being in its vicinity was primary in comparison to any kind of intellectual discourse about it. Which led me to thinking about how so much sculpture operates in a different realm to two dimensional art. Because we experience it in fluid space and time – as opposed to the contraction of space and time that defines non-moving flat imagery – the representational aspects of sculpture tends to disappear into the visceral and we stop asking “what does this mean?” Of course, we know that the wooden elephant is a copy of a real elephant, but we ignore that knowledge as we experience this elephant in front of us, as we move around it and our perspective changes. And I think we tend to do the same thing even when sculpture and installation drips with cryptic meaning. In the months that I have been writing this column, I have devoted a a perhaps disproportionate number of column inches to the work of public artist Doung Jahangeer. And I’ll try to refrain from mentioning him for at least a few months after this. But first I’ve got to pass on the news that Jahangeer’s submission for the large-scale public sculpture outside the refurbished Ellis Park Stadium was successfullly selected from five of Southern Africa’s finest artists. The work, which like Botha’s elephants, maintain the primacy of experience over discourse, will stretch twelve metres into the air and occupy a new pedestrian space between Ellis Park and Jo’burg Stadium. Its simple but structurally complex design includes a giant globe at its centre, through which people will be able to walk , and on top of which a young boy is flying two kites and a young girl is kneeling at a river which flies into the sky. The finished work will no doubt be breathtaking if Jahangeers’ models and sketches are anything to go by, the work’s charm and naked sentiment offering up an antidote to our cynical times.
soon become stiflingly stuffy. A lot of us would rather read books and poems, I suspect.
Richard Hart: Squirrel designed by much-loved Durban designer Amanda Laird Cherry. If you’re anywhere near Cape Town on the 25th of Feb, don’t miss the unveiling of this fresh new talent.
Global South, and the gordonschachatcollection will be presenting Security, a unique installation by internationally acclaimed South African artist Jane Alexander, originally commissioned for the 27th São Paulo Biennale.
THE ARTFUL VIEWER Melvyn Minnaar Money is Eating Art Money is dangerous. Make that ‘money’ as metaphor for greed, singular symbol of status - and, increasingly in the world of creativity, the only thing that matters. From international auction houses to so-called art fairs, from art school class rooms to gallerists’ offices, the famous song from Cabaret is reinvented and blaring: “money, money, money makes the (art) world go round”. And it is steadily getting louder in local art circles. But what goes around, comes around (as Justin Timberlake sang), and it is dangerous. For art. The international shift to re-position art value in terms of monetary appeal (the only thing that those with far too much, easily earned, understand about culture), more or less invented by cunning advertising mogul Saatchi, has clearly turned the South African art scene on as well.
Botha’s elephant Finally, I’ve also mentioned Richard Hart recently, referring to his beautiful painting at the Big Woods group show at ArtSpace Durban several months ago. It was Hart’s first showing of one of his paintings in a formal gallery space and the work earned a full page in SAAT. In the months since then, he has been painting prolifically, and later this month he will present his first solo show at whatiftheworld in Cape Town. I’m lucky enough to have seen most of the paintings and just thinking about them puts a broad and serene smile on my face. Almost movingly surreal, the painting all feature women carrying a variety of animals in the pouches of their dresses, some of which were
Nowadays, virtually the only issue discussed about an artist is the highest price achieved for her/his work. An artist’s status is confirmed not by admission to an important, authoritative public (and this is important) collection or museum, but what has been paid at auction, fair or fancy gallery. Kentridge at so many dollars; Dumas at so many euro’s - look how famous; they must be good! Many commentators have been warning how this scenario is eroding expertise and advancing formulistic art production. An art world, ruled by big bucks, where there are no more challenges for invention and creativity, no more chances to experiment, be adventurous and outrageous, will
Hopefully the present global economic downturn may have corrective affect, but don’t hold your breath. The mega rich still have plenty and, as a very interesting article by Ben Lewis and Jonathan Ford recently in Prospect magazine pointed out, the international art market (where stuffed sharks and other one-liners trade) is the most unregulated, speculative money market of all. They suggest that art dealing at that level is a pretty murky business. (But then as the Kebble saga showed, artists don’t mind a little moneyed dirt.) Meanwhile South African gallerists and dealers are nervously wringing their hands. And, while packing for the next Joburg Art Fair, just wondering whether they’ve pitched the price of so-and-so right. (Note: not whether so-and-so should be shown at all because of the work.) To demonstrate the danger of money and art in cahoots, a local vignette: A friend, a dog-lover and also a sensibility for new art, was taken in by a series of dog photographs at a local gallery. The bright young thing that produced the pictures, had only recently finished at a local art school. Quite extraordinary and eye-catching the budding photographer was onto a good, if one-liner theme, but it was clearly only the start of things. Dog and art-loving friend was quite taken aback when a single print of the debuting artist, out of an edition of seven, was to be had for R22 000 plus Vat. This was clearly no deal. (The poetic, but all too reasonable question is whether the young artist will ever win back the enthusiasm for his work lost by greed?) But let’s hope the collapse of rampant capitalism brings some sanity. Art and money simply don’t make a happy couple. Not for invention and originality, nor for outrage and challenge. Robert Sloon gave the connection on his Artheat website, but it is worth repeating. The sneaky American artist Sean Landers was asked to respond to the current international art market crash. Art is not money, he wrote, and when the two get too close together, money takes over and makes art into itself. Let’s hope his enthusiasm swings this way as well: “I’m looking forward to seeing some art. Art unfettered by the market frankly. I’m looking forward to visiting a few art colleges and not seeing blatant careerism in each studio and art dealers stalking every hallway. I’m looking forward to seeing young and established galleries showing weird young artists with nothing to lose, making art that they know no one will ever buy, and in the process fearlessly stumbling onto the next big thing, whatever the hell that turns out to be.” May our money-eyed gallerists, artist and fair-goers also see the light. Otherwise art is gonna be chewed up.
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The great comeback Michael Coulson chats with Stefan Welz about Strauss & Co, South African art auctions, as well as setting up shop in Cape Town and Johannesburg Veteran art auctioneer and farmer Stefan Welz is as happy as a boy with a new train set. The first sale catalogue for his new firm, Strauss & Co, is going to bed with 165 lots and a gross estimated between R30m-R40m. The average low estimate of about R190 000 is the highest he’s ever known for an auction of SA art. Values range the full spectrum, from R4 000-R6 000 to R4m-R6m, the latter for an Irma Stern landscape, White House in Madeira. There’s also what Welz claims is internationally still the best-known, and most reproduced, SA painting. Frans Oerder’s still life Magnolias was bought by the New York Graphic Society (which bought the artist’s Blossomtime at the same time) and published in 1939 as a print which for many years was the biggest selling reproduction of any still life painting in the world.
It came back home, bought by an SA collector, in 1956 and is now on offer with an estimate of R600 000-R900 000. The gross may not be a record, but Welz no longer sees size as a virtue. “The old company just got too big, and we had to drive sales regardless of quality just to pay the bills – the appetite was insatiable! Also, I got bogged down in finances and day-to-day management. Now I’m back to doing what I enjoy most: looking at pictures, finding them, and persuading people to buy them. It’s important for me to believe in what I’m selling.” While he denies that he wasn’t proud of everything he sold at Stephan Welz/Sotheby’s (now increasingly known for brevity and clarity, if not elegance, as Swelco), the subtext is that some work came dangerously close to the margin. He stresses that price and quality are not synonymous
– though Tretchikoff does feature in Strauss’s first sale! Busy as they have been assembling their first Jo’burg fine art sale, Welz and his new colleagues have not been letting the grass grow under their feet in other areas. Welz confirms, with properly if barely disguised glee, market rumours that Strauss has poached three top people from the Cape branch of his old firm. As we spoke, Strauss chairman Conrad Strauss was actually in Cape Town looking for new premises, probably in the Claremont/Newlands area. “I know the trendy galleries are moving to Woodstock,” says Welz, “but it’s not ideal for us. We have a different, somewhat older, clientele – on both the buying and selling side. They come from the southern suburbs and, rightly or wrongly, they’re not so keen to go into what they see as less salubrious areas.” Strauss plans to differentiate the
venues. “We’ll keep major art sales in Johannesburg. We will include art in Cape Town in the two sales we plan each year, but it may be lesser, more decorative items. On the other hand, we’ll concentrate on things like furniture, silverware and ceramics in Cape Town, where they have a more developed market. “After all, the Cape is where most old Cape furniture comes from; it’s the natural place to sell it.” Strauss will also preview highlights of its first sale in Cape Town, on February 17/18, in the Dolphin Room at the Castle. Is Welz worried about re-entering the art market at a time when it’s coming under huge strain internationally? Major auction houses like Sotheby’s itself, Christie’s and Bonham’s are frantically laying off staff and slashing costs.
“Lesser work, of what one may call decorative value, is what I believe will suffer most. Its buyers tended to be indiscriminate and occasional. “Also, people who bought in the mid to late 1980s, when the market was depressed, are becoming sellers as they reach an age where they’re scaling down and moving into smaller properties. “But the backbone of the market is the true collector, who’s not after a quick buck, knows what he wants, and is prepared to wait for it. That market may be affected, but I think it will remain, and it’s what we must focus on. “The market may hold up better in SA, but it can’t escape the trend. In particular, second-rate works from major artists may be hit.” What concerns Welz more is that the market is not broadening. “The
favoured names all appear in the first edition of Esme Berman’s book [Art & Artists of SA, published in 1970]. That’s a limited supply: where are the new names we need desperately?
“And remember that the market for SA art is still an SA market. The Russian oligarchs aren’t buying it! And it’s unattractive for an SA resident to buy abroad and repatriate art: the extra costs can add 40% to the hammer price.” Sage words potential buyers will do well to bear in mind. Oh, by the way: Welz has decided to resist a land claim on his farm (“It’s completely frivolous”) and Farmers Weekly chose one of his animals as Cow of the Year. So there’s no let-up in that side of his life, either.
South African Art Times.
design � books and catalogues � large format graphics � archiving � installations � specialised retouching � exhibition displays � digital scanning
w w w. s c a n s h o p . c o . z a
The South African
The most complete listing of South African art resources, infrastructure, financial and promotional opportunities for visual artists.
According to the new
South African Art Information Directory 2009
The SA Art Times covers 60% of the active art market - that’s just the art infrastructure, the estimated 14 000* readers per month are another story
The South African Art Times has a 7000 monthly print and national distribution run. Advertise in the afforable, quality SA Art Times and get your message across Full Page R 6 500 . Half Page R 4 400 . Quarter Page R 2 600 . Eighth of Page R 900 NEW - Gallery Listing per image or text block R 400 Pricing excludes design and vat. Prices are set to go up by 10% with March’s annual printer increase.
Call Eugene now on 021 424 7732 E-mail email@example.com or see www.arttimes.co.za for more details * 14 000 is a conservative estimate of the number of multi readers of The SA Art Times, many people tell us that they read The Art Times a few times per month, including their art loving friends
Obituary: Pieter van der Westhuizen 1931 - 2008 SA’s most popular artist painted a better world for himself Steve Kretzmann Probably every adult in the country has seen Pieter van der Westhuizen’s work. At the very least, a greeting card, print or calendar displaying his work can be found in almost every South African home. But there will be no new artworks to be produced by this prolific artist, for his life ended on the night of 30th December 2008, after some months of ill-health. After 77 years, most of it spent producing paintings and drawings in a wide variety of mediums, he has left South Africa with a wealth of artwork which have vast popular appeal. So popular, in fact, that his agent of 12 years, Leonard Schneider, is adamant that he is the most sold South African artist to date. Van der Westhuizen’s 65th birthday exhibition, which Schneider said was the largest solo exhibition to be held in the country, was sold out. And while many of the “hoi polloi” did not consider him a “great artist” or a “collectable item”, said Schneider, van der Westhuizen, like Tretchikoff, has proving his critics wrong. Works which sold for about R15 000 12 years ago are now being sold for over R100 000, said Schneider. Even Irma Stern’s work, he said, did not escalate as rapidly in value. He said van der Westhuizen’s works, which “had no angst in them”, held universal appeal and had sold to people from all corners of the globe. In fact, van der Westhuizen’s work is held in private and corporate collections in 17 different countries. His slightly naïve, lyrical portraits and landscapes, were described by former president FW de Klerk, as conveying “love and compassion and a common humanity”. Those who knew him well say he enjoyed what he did, and he was not surprised that others enjoyed it too. But neither was he apparently much bothered by his critics. After all, galleries were hungry for every piece of work he produced.
His work was “comforting rather than confrontational” said de Klerk, whose wife Marike was an ardent admirer of van der Westhuizen’s work. Van der Westhuizen himself admitted that he used art to escape, rather than confront, this world. In one of the few references to his childhood, he said: “…[T]he world I found myself in was not a comfortable one... At around the age of four I decided that this life was not for me. I began creating another world for myself - in pictures.” Born in Pretoria on March 22, 1931, his mother died when he was three and his father put him in the care if his maternal grandparents. While van der Westhuizen said his grandmother bestowed on him all the love she could muster, they were archetypal poor Afrikaaners and she was a “battle-axe” shaped by trying circumstances. Leaving school after standard eight to begin an apprenticeship at Iscor – a common feature of working class Afrikaanerdom – van der Westhuizen said he continued to feel out of place. But he managed to eventually get his matric, moved up to a white-collar job at Iscor and settled in Cape Town’s southern suburbs with his attractive wife Lettie. His day job limited his painting, but once his son Jan finished his education, van der Westhuizen resigned and moved to Rawsonville, where he worked full-time as an artist. They were happy years, writes his friend Prof Jan van Arkel in the book Pieter van der Westhuizen, and in 1979 he got the opportunity to study at the Nationale Hoger Instituut voor Schone Kunster in Belgium. But not long after they returned, Lettie died, suddenly and unexpectedly. Van Arkel said van der Westhuizen “was devastated”, and spent days sitting under the tree in the front yard, doing nothing. Escaping his memories, he left Rawsonville for Hout Bay and spent long periods of time overseas.
He would often make unplanned trips to Europe, seemingly coming and going on a whim. Van Arkel said there was an occasion when his son Jan wanted to know how he could get hold of his father. Van Arkel had to say that he did not know where he was nor when he would be back. He studied again in ’82 and ’85 at the Stedelijke Akademie in Ghent and the Ryks Centrum voor Grafiek in Kasterlee, Belgium. In ’83 and ’85 he travelled to Japan and studied wood-block printing. In 1984 he married a young Israeli girl named Ofra, whom he had initially employed to produce prints for him. The Israeli connection led to trips there and an exhibition with Marc Chagall, Yaacov Agam and Ben Avram in Madrid in ’88. A Chagallian influence can be seen in some of his work thereafter. But his marriage to Ofra ended in divorce after seven years. While it was a major blow to him, his second marriage gave him the gift of his daughter Ma’ayan. He enjoyed a close relationship with her, attending her wedding just ten days before his death. But cupid had not exhausted his quiver. In 1993 he married Zebeth van Heerden, a teacher in the small town of Philadelphia, where he had settled on the edge of the Swartland. Although Pieter suffered a heart attack and subsequent bouts of ill-health in what was to be the final phase of his life, the overall impression gathered is that despite what Rev Jan Mostert described as his “sophistication”, he also possessed an “utter simplicity” which did not fetter him with the melancholy which often troubles creative minds. He loved what he did, he was successful at it, at the end of his days he shared love with a woman who provided stability and companionship, and he could look over far horizons every day. It seems that after an inauspicious start, he finally found a comfortable place in this world.
Pieter van der Westhuizen
Girl with red chicken
Custom Picture Framers & Art Gallery
NAUDE, PIETER HUGO (SA 1868 - 1941) “Washerwomen, Ceres” Oil on panel (23.5 x 28.5cm)
SOUTH AFRICAN ART, AFRICANA & ART REFERENCE BOOKS, NUMISMATICS COLLECTION MONDAY 9 FEBRUARY 2009 1271 Church Street East, Hatfield, Pretoria Wolfe Street • Chelsea • Wynberg • Tel: 021 761 2816 + Buitengracht Street • Cape Town • Tel: 021 423 2090 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org • web www.infinart.co.za
Preview all the art & download a catalogue at: www.bernardi.co.za Viewing: Thurs 5, Fri 6, Sat 7 & Sun 8 February 10:00am - 5:00pm
DECADE IArt Gallery 71 Loop Street Cape Town Tel: 021 424 5150
For more information call the Sanlam Art Collection Tel: 021 947 3359 / 083 457 2699
from 10 Years of Collecting for the Sanlam Art Collection
27 February – 12 March 2009 Monday – Friday 09:00 – 18:00 Saturday 10:00 – 14:00
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Continued on page 3 bit more and will be compelled to cancel actual projects. “We are more flexible and because we are still small so our ov...