ART TIMES THE SOUTH AFRICAN
Issue : May 2009 Full free edition available at www.arttimes.co.za 1 Years subscription R 180 E-mail subs@arttimes for details
Cecil Skotnes in his studio 1967
Cecil Skotnes 1926 – 2009
Photo: courtesy Pippa Skotnes
As a tribute to this great man The Art Times has commissioned an artist’s profile on Cecil Skotnes. Also see Hayden Proud’s Obituary in SA Business Art .
Art life renews itself through recession ‘What we’re going through is not unique,’ says Siebrits. ‘Sadly, no one is immune.’
Alex Dodd We started out the year on tenterhooks, not knowing how the global economic recession would hit our local contemporary art market. Dark murmurings from over the stormy seas weren’t very encouraging, with reports of the almost irrationally exuberant boom experienced since 2005 crunching right down to a slow crawl. ‘Gone are the days when artworks were being snapped up at the blink of an eye,’ wrote Juliette
Lim-Fat and Roger Signer of global financial services company Credit Suisse. ‘Nowadays, deals are taking longer to close. Buyers are more prudent and taking more time to get to know the paintings before reaching a final decision.’ It didn’t help that a large percentage of contemporary art buyers in recent years have been cock-a-hoop hedge fund managers, as well as the newly bling emerging from markets like Russia, China, the Middle East and India, many of whom have caught a nasty cold during the recent winter of our discontent, with the credit crisis slashing their
wealth and putting their demand for art on ice. Still, all this nasty weather seemed quite distant and academic to us down here in the sun-drenched South – until sales figures from the recent Joburg Art Fair came home to roost. Art sales at this year’s Fair grossed R12-million, about half of what was achieved last year – and this downturn despite the fact that the Fair’s attendance was up by 4 000 and that the production value of this year’s event way outstripped last year’s. It was a jackpot of a Fair in every sense other than sales, which can only really be attributed to the dreaded slump having meta-
morphosed from a hazy projection into an uncomfortable reality. I tiptoed into January with a dreaded sense is that our landscape was going to be morphing quite irrevocably over the next few months and that the status quo we currently take for granted as standard and unchanging will, despite Trevor Manuel’s bizarre assurances to the contrary, undergo something of a seismic shift. The first evidence of the quake hit me this week, with the lousy news that Warren Siebrits Modern and Contemporary will soon be no more. Despite the blessed irony of having just had a
‘phenomenally successful Art Fair’, the gallery’s doors will only be open until the end of May.
Siebrits will soon be embarking on a new chapter working privately as a Web-based dealer, specialising in rare art (warrensiebrits.co.za). His gallery might not be around for much longer, but we’re likely to hear more from this indomitable character who has already made a significant mark on South African art history
This is no flash-in-the-pan, fly-by-night gallery, but one of Johannesburg’s most exacting and scholarly minded contemporary art institutions. Warren Siebrits has been responsible for reviving the reputations of many 20th century artists (Alfred Thoba, Cyprian Shilakoe, Lucas Sithole…) whose legacies were overlooked or underestimated due to their place in history under apartheid, as well as for adding muscle to some significant contemporary careers, from that of Jo Ractliffe to Gerard Marx, Stefanus Rademeyer and Sabelo Mlangeni. (continued on page 5)
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Autumn 2009 Sale of Decorative and Fine Arts interest to admirers of Cape furniture. In the evening session, a particularly well-preserved 19th Century Stinkwood Rusbank (estimate R18 000 - R20 000) and a 19th century Cape Yellowwood and Stinkwood Cradle (estimate R3 000 - R5 000) are two items that rarely appear on auction.
Stephan Welz and Company, in association with Sotheby’s, will hold their 2009 Autumn Sale of Decorative and Fine Arts at the Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens on 26 and 27 May 2009. The sale will be on view to the public from 22 to 24 May 2009. FINE ARTS Strong lyrical narratives by Marjorie Wallace are on offer with Ons (estimate R120 000 - R150 000), a tender depiction of love between Jan Rabie and Marjorie; Claude and the Children (estimate R70 000 R90 000), an intimate portrayal of Claude Bouscharain and her children; and Rachel and Ou Nooi with a letter from Breyten (estimate R70 000 R100 000), the reading of a letter penned by the imprisoned writer Breyten Breytenbach, jailed by the State for high treason. Wallace, best known for her portrait studies, was trained at the Edinburgh College of Art and made such an impression that she became the youngest person to be elected to the Royal Scottish Academy. She met and married the writer Jan Rabie in Paris in 1953, later a leading member of the Sestigers, and the couple settled in Onrus in 1954. Amanda Botha, a friend of Wallace and an art writer, said, “[people] were always important to Wallace, but she never had a voyeur's approach. She lived alongside the people in her paintings … her lasting contribution is (her) cultural-historical record of work on the marginalised people in society.” Ian Hunter of Stephan Welz & Co’s Cape Town Paintings department says: “We are fortunate to have three Paul Stopforth resistance artworks in our Contemporary section. Stopforth, who now resides in America, fused art and politics in the mid ’70s to raise awareness for the atrocities being committed under Apartheid. Death in Detention (estimate R10 000 - R15 000) and Altarpiece for Thomas Kasire (estimate R8 000 - R12 000) are particularly poignant pieces, rare to the auction
world with most being housed in National Collections.” Terence McCaw has a strong presence in this sale with the particularly striking View from the Artist’s Garden, Hout Bay (estimate R120 000 - R150 000) one of six works by the artist due to come under the hammer on the 26 May. McCaw was a founder member and active protagonist of the New Group, established in 1938 with Walter Battiss and Gregoire Boonzaier. While working closely with Boonzaier, McCaw was also exposed to the work of first generation Cape Impressionist – Pieter Wenning. This influence is clearly seen in McCaw’s work. Pieter Wenning’s Old Church (estimate R400 000 R600 000) is also available to collectors of South African Masters. The Wenning, previously sold in 1991 by Stephan Welz & Co, in association with Sotheby’s, is again on offer to the market having resided since that sale till now in a magnificent South African collection. Further highlights include: a rare entry from auction-shy Siegfried Hahn titled Spring, Saragossa (estimate R7 000 R10 000), Gregoire Boonzaier’s Mosque, Loop Street, Bo Kaap (estimate R350 000 - R450 000) and Irma Stern’s Portrait of Zoë Randall (estimate R1 800 000 - R2 400 000). Stern’s painting demonstrates her virtuosity in paint application and debt owed to African masks as part inspiration for this composition. The sitter, Zoë Randall, was a well known and much accoladed star of the South African theatre world. In 2002 at the Fleur du Cap Theatre awards she received a lifetime achievement award in recognition of her 60 years of dedication as an actress and supporter of the arts.
A delightful collection of Toby Jugs, available for the first time to collectors, includes a Staffordshire ‘Ordinary’ Toby Jug, 1790-1810 (estimate R6 000 R8 000). Although similar Delft jugs existed in the Netherlands, the Toby Jug was first developed and popularised in England by the potter Ralph Wood. A typical jug depicts a seated man wearing an English ‘tricorn’ hat and holding a mug of beer and a glass or a pipe. The original jug is said to have been inspired by a song ‘Brown Jug’, popular in 1761, whose lyrics featured ‘Toby Fillpot’.
bracket clock by G. J. Champion, Paris (estimate R25 000 - R30 000) should attract much interest. This item, inlaid with tortoiseshell and richly decorated with mythological figures and beasts, epitomises Rococo craftsmanship. Other clocks include a Dutch Frisian Wall Clock, circa 1850 (estimate R8 000 - R10 000) and a novelty Jaeger Timepiece in the form of a lamp post (estimate R5 000 - R7 000). English and European furniture collectors should bid competitively for an 18th century oak and inlaid cheston-stand (estimate R30 000 - R40 000) and a Set of Four Sheraton Style Fruitwood Armchairs, circa 1880 (estimate R15 000 - R20 000), each chair stamped Howard & Sons Ltd. Berner Street. Furniture on offer to Colonial collectors is a magnificent 19th Century Rosewood, Stinkwood and Satinwood Drum Table (estimate R30 000 - R40 000) which should attract discerning bids. This unusually large example boasts eight real and dummy drawers with ivory-tipped handles. There are many items that will appeal to Cape furniture collectors. In the day session, a 19th Century Cape Rooiels Koskas (estimate R20 000 - R25 000) should be of
Another fine example of English ceramics is a Lucie Rie (1902-1995) Asymetrical Stoneware Bowl (estimate R25 000 - R35 000), impressed with the designer’s initials. European ceramics are well represented; in particular a striking Large De Porceleyne Fles ‘Nieuw Delfts” vase 1910 -1920 (estimate R7 000 - 9 000) decorated in tones of blue and turquoise and borrowing from Islamic earthenware patterns, and an assembled Meissen part- dinner service (estimate R15 000 - R20 000), 20th century, freshly applied with spring flower motifs on a white background and finished off with gilt trim. An attractive collection of Scandinavian wares includes designs by Berndt Friberg (1899-1981), Gertrud Vasegaard (1913-2007) and Herbert Krenchel (1922-). These vessels share pareddown lines married with a strong sense of design; the Krenchel ‘Krenit’ wares punctuated by strong interior colours. South African ceramics include works by Hym Rabinowitz, Esias Bosch, Tim Morris, Andrew Walford, Hylton Nel, Rorke’s Drift and
DECORATIVE ARTS For clock enthusiasts, a magnificent early 18th century Louis XV boulle
Ardmore. Hylton Nel (1941-) steals the show with his tin-glazed earthenware ‘Crucifixion’ plaque (estimate R3 000 R4 000), an enigmatic earthenware doll (estimate R4 000 - 6 000), and two delightful tin-glazed earthenware plates: one decorated with an insect (estimate R 7 000 - 9 000) and the other decorated with a bird on a green ground (estimate R 9 000 - R12 000). The renowned Rorke’s Drift pottery studio is showcased with a stoneware vase executed in 1977 by Lephina Molefe (estimate R6 000 - R8 000); a stoneware vase by Elizabeth Mbatha (estimate R5 000 - 7 000); two incised stoneware vases (estimate R8 000 R10 000 each) and a two-handled bowl and cover (estimate R5 000 - R7 000), all 1980, by Joel Sibisi. Sibisi’s action of carving out images in the slip painted stoneware mirrors the act of linocut production. Similarly the stylised and somewhat naïve motifs closely mirror the iconography found in linouts. Of historical interest is a group of Nine Rare Chinese Armorial Wares, Qianlong, 1736-1795 (estimate R60 000 - R90 000), created for the Cape market. Similar examples can be found on p 126 and 127 of Woodward’s “Oriental Ceramics at the Cape of Good Hope, 1652-1795”. English and Continental silverware includes items ranging from 1736 through to the latter half of the twentieth century. A George III Silver Seven-Bar Toast-rack by the renowned silversmith Paul Storr, executed in 1817, is offered for sale at R7 000 9 000. Paul Storr, a favourite of George IV, was known for his fine craftsmanship and was skilled at using designs executed in other media by artists and then adapting these concepts to suit the purpose for which he required them. This fine sense of design and craftsmanship is what has seen his pieces through the fashion highs and lows of silver, making him an enduring favourite with collectors. A fine set of Elizabeth II silver ‘rat-tail’ pattern cutlery by Gee and Holmes of Sheffield, England, is also due to come under the hammer at Kirstenbosch. In addition to the hallmark denoting the year 1977, this set of twelve place settings is also stamped with the special commemorative Silver Jubilee Hallmark which displays Queen Elizabeth's head facing left. Amongst other highlights in the Silver sessions are a William Suckling George V Silver six-piece tea and coffee set (estimate R12 000 R15 000) and a James Deakin and Sons George V two-handled silver tray (estimate R15 000 - R20 000).
A fine near pair of WMF Art Nouveau Electroplate plaques (estimate R8 000 R10 000) are on offer, each depicting a woman in profile surrounded by foliage. The Art Nouveau movement was characterised by organic subjects, especially floral motifs, as well as highlystylised, flowing curvilinear forms. Art Nouveau was an approach to design according to which artists should be involved with the design of everything from architecture to furniture, making art part of everyday life. Collectors’ items include a Fruitwood Apple-shaped tea caddy (estimate R10 000 - R15 000), which dates to the turn of the nineteenth century. Tea which was a valuable commodity at that time, was kept under lock and key. Also on offer for the boy at heart are
two swords: a Prussian Infantry Officer’s sword designed in 1889 (estimate R2 500 - R4 000) and a Victorian Infantry Officer’s sword dating from the 19th century (estimate R3 000 - R5 000). These and other items are scheduled to go under the hammer on the 26th and 27th of May 2009 at Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens.
AUCTION OF DECORATIVE AND FINE ARTS Tuesday 26 May at 2pm and 7pm Wednesday 27 May at 10am Auction: Tuesday 26 May 2pm and 7pm Wednesday 27 May 10am Venue: Old Mutual Conference and Exhibition Centre, Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens, Newlands, Cape Town Viewing: Friday 22 May 10am to 5pm Saturday 23 May 9am to 2pm Sunday 24 May 10am to 5pm Gregoire Johannes Boonzaier, MOSQUE, LOOP STREET BO KAAP signed and dated 1951; inscribed with the title on the stretcher 56 by 63cm R 350 000 - 450 000
Enquiries and Catalogues Cape Town Office: 021 794 6461
At the Saleroom, Kirstenbosch from Friday 22 May Tel: 021 761 4288 Fax: 021 761 8690 e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Catalogues can be viewed on our website: www.swelco.co.za
South African Art Times.
I often marvel at how much more beautiful large-scale buildings are when they are half built than when they are completely finished. Indeed many of Durban’s most garish and formless monstrosities were once, for a brief period of time filled with beauty, texture and awe, before their structure was covered with facade and plastic and polish and made safe for shoppers. Looking at the digital rendering of the proposed final structure, the Moses Mabhida Stadium, Durban’s chief 2010 venue, might, perhaps, be an exception to that tendency. But even if the monolithic post-modern sea-turtle ends up being anything less than exceptional, it will, at the very least, be home to a broad selection of South African art. And considering how sport pretty much kills art dead in the endless game of paper-rock-scissors, such a cultural highjacking can only be a good thing. This is after all, a guaranteed way of ensuring that hundreds of thousands of of South Africans will walk past, and perhaps even look at, a whole bunch of contemporary art – even if that art has to make allowances to the colour scheme of the décor. The eThekwini Municipality has made a public call – the first, apparently, among those municipalities blessed with a stadium – for work which will populate several walls and atriums in the building, as well as any other spaces
suggested by artists. In broad democratic strokes, artists were invited en masse to propose site-specific works and were, to this end, also invited on a brief tour of the stadium, the giant mass of steel and concrete naked, unadorned and rising into the sky. It was difficult to work out exactly how things would look when all the scaffolding was gone but I’ve always loved a building site (the ultimate sandpit) and I was struck by the fact that the beauty of all this massed raw concrete would be a hard act to beat. Fortunately for the participating artists though, the judges will no doubt have broader set of critera than cooler than concrete.
Henrietta Hamilton from The Bank Gallery
The still skeletal stadium reminded me of Stephen Hobbes’ exploration of architecture, structure and light in recent works which showed in Durban at the KZNSA and Bank Gallery. Traces of Hobbes’ conversations echo – in entirely different form – in Vaughan Sadie’s exquisite exhibition, situation, currently on show at Bank Gallery. While Hobbes calls our attention to the beauty, fragility and brutality of cities and their architecture, Sadie’s current work, produced for his Masters degree, explores the very nature of light and the way in which it constructs our interior and exterior world, worlds which are more fragile even than buildings. Encompassing a century of modernism and post-modernism, Sadie’s personal evolutions and convolutions exists in the count-
Page 3 less areas in between. Although several pieces are gorgeously accessible, for the most part the show consists of the kind of work that will send Sunday Magazine editors running in one direction or another, depending on how keen they are to identify with contemporary art. But like DuChamp’s urinal, which occupies at least one harbour in Sadie’s ocean of theory, complexity is often the mask worn by simplicity. And I know that I’m not as well versed in theory as Sadie, but after the initial relent that always needs to happen when viewing any exhibition, I was completely enchanted. The levels and layers came later in a one-question-interview with Sadie, which cascaded into a mini-avalanche of conversation. We agree to meet later. In work that is, at least on some levels, about theory, I’m always interested in whether an artist thinks that a degree of theoretical engagement is necessary in the viewer. In other words, if my mother, who loves art but lacks theory, visited the show, would she be able to engage with it in a manner that satisfies both her and the artist? (and that last “satisfies” is mine, not Sadie’s; he lacks arrogance, possessing instead a critical rigour that no doubt drives him mad in the production of his own work). He never really answers the question but he does point out that he’s more satisfied producing complex work which hopefully extracts a mental investigation in the viewer than complex work which is accessibility but whose accessibility allows the viewer to be content with the surface. I left Vaughn Sadie staring at his digital clock installed on the front of the gallery, above the entrance. Constructed out of twenty eight fluorescent tubes, each minute passes not discreetly, but in flickering indecision. I waited with him as the clock turned from 11:59 to 12:00. A flurry of flickers. He was visibly thrilled.
Joburg Art Fair 09: Sculptures steal the attention
(First published in The Sunday Independent)
At the Frieze Art Fair in London in 2007, devotees queued up to have artists Jake and Dinos Chapman defile the royal insignia on their pound notes. Adding to the buzz was Rob Pruitt, an artist who turned a gallery booth into a flea market, where he flogged disused objects donated by other artists. A life-size copy of a 1970 Dodge Challenger made by Richard Prince dominated another booth and a performer dressed as a bobby entertained passersby with his yoga moves. But the most notable moment was when Kris Martin affected his intangible artwork, dubbed One Minute Silence (2007), which demanded that everyone in the fair remain quiet for one minute. Call them art fair gimmicks if you must, but all of these staged interventions at this art fair not only created a frisson of excitement, but reiterated the fact that artists cannot be contained within the confines of a strictly commercial art event. Nor can their subversive compulsions be tamed; they will automatically disrupt and challenge convention at every turn. At this year’s Joburg Art Fair, however, there were few such memorable attractions or interventions. Marcus Neustetter’s Work in Progress (2009) was perhaps the only artwork that defied the art fair setting. (Continued on page 4)
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South African Art Times.
Joburg Art Fair 09: Continued from Page 3 Consisting of coloured building blocks stacked up to the ceiling, it protruded from the confines of the white display, physically and conceptually challenging the boundaries that define such an event. As a temporary object, Neustetter’s artwork couldn’t be sold or transported, thereby defying the objective to create sellable or easily packaged art. Even Jane Alexander’s installation, Security (2006), with its barbed wire borders that hemmed in a rectangle of artificial grass, seemed to conform to the controlled spatial dynamics of the art fair. Nevertheless it was originally commissioned for the 27th Sao Paulo Biennale, but perhaps its neat boxlike configuration appealed to the organisers. At least last year art world tricksters Avant Car Guard created a stir with their performance piece at the Whatiftheworld booth, with their tongue-in-cheek memorial marking the “death” of Kendell Geers. The absence of such performance interventions at this year’s fair ensured that it was nothing more than an exercise in heightened commercial activity. Avant Car Guard’s The Invoice (2009), a make-believe receipt painted on to canvas, made a wry comment on the commodification of art. But otherwise there were few works that threatened or questioned the conventions of such an exposition. The fair did, however, provide an opportunity to identify what is considered sellable. Photographic works were in abundance and there was a palatable sense that artists working with this medium were searching for ways to stand out from the crowd. From superimposing existing dated cut-outs on to contemporary photographs to sealing each part of a photograph in a see-through plastic container 2009/04/21 03:29:28 PM
to photographing aged women draped in clothing made from animal entrails, they were trying out all manner of visual tricks to get attention. But mostly their efforts felt contrived and superfluous to their expression. Berry Brickle’s Melancholia 01 (2007) from the Encounters of Bamako collection stood out: a synthesis of collage and photography that saw a variety of found images and photographs layered over each other to create an otherworldly image that played with its temporality - no mean feat considering that photography is inextricably tied to reality. The documentary style genre, which was fairly well represented at the fair, just couldn’t compete in the face more progressive forms of art. Photographers should take Zander Blom’s lead in his Travels of Bad series, displayed at the Rooke gallery stand. Blom exploits the documentary function of photography while simultaneously allowing it to serve a so-called high art function too. With so much art on view it was hard for individual pieces to shine. It often was the more three-dimensional sculptural pieces that tended to steal attention, such as Mary Sibande’s A Conversation with Madam CJ Walker (2008), on show at Gallery Momo’s stand. It featured two mannequins of domestic workers in their “maid attire”, which appeared more like a period costume, suggesting that their task/role belonged to another era. Though the title may have inferred they were engaging in a dialogue with a white woman, the conversation that Sibande refers to is one with the first black American millionaire, summoning a more metaphorical dialogue that encompasses issues pertaining to servitude and the aspiration for wealth and power. One can only guess what the Sandton madams visiting the fair would have made of the artwork. Wayne Barker’s Desire and Golden
Girl, showing at SMAC’s booth, were also eye-catching. He has ditched the neon lights (at last!) and progressed to produce wonderful, kitschy-art-slash-crafty-slash-popartish beadworks that appear like a stereotypical advert parading obvious markers of sex and wealth. They were beautifully crafted, witty and relevant. Most gallery stands showed artworks in isolation from the bodies to which they belonged - except for Blom’s Travels of Bad series. And the arbitrary arrangements of the art ensured that most of the works were shown out of context which silenced their subtext. But art fairs are about generating sales and, as such, most gallerists were keen to hedge their bets by displaying a full array of art in the hope that they would have more of a chance of nailing a sale. In such a context, the aesthetic or transcendental nature of art objects is stifled. And with hoards of people jostling for a view and a glut of art distracting one’s attention, there is scant room for the viewer to meditate on each piece. In other words art fairs do not make ideal environments for viewing or appraising art. Nor are they, as Ross Douglas, the organiser of the art fair, proposes, opportunities for the South African public “to be educated about contemporary art”. The BMW Art Talks at the fair did provide occasions for the public to learn more about art production in this country, but the catalogue, a thick book that almost exclusively contained images, ensured there wasn’t reading material that visitors could take home that might have provided some sort of introduction to the central issues. The introduction of a design stand - staged by Southern Guild - might also distort the public’s understanding and appreciation of art. While the boundaries between art and design are blurred, there is a distinction; it might not necessarily manifest in the final product,
but exists in terms of the creator’s intentions and motives. If the art fair is to achieve its objective in terms of “growing a new audience” for art, then it seems paramount that a novice audience is able to grasp the difference between a slick chair and an artwork. However, it is more than likely that succeeding Joburg Art Fairs might include more design stands. It is not because designers don’t have a platform - they do; there is a surplus of interior décor and design expos. The problem is the limited number of bona fide contemporary art galleries - most of those little shops in malls peddling trite landscape art don’t count.So in order for Artlogic, Douglas’s company, to grow the fair each year they will be forced to embrace more and more object displays derived from that fuzzy territory that delineates the overlap between art and craft. No doubt Artlogic will find expedient ways of dressing up this art event as something more substantial than a commercial venture as they have done to-date with public assertions that their event is a more viable endeavour than the Johannesburg Biennale’s or Cape Africa Platform’s art initiatives in Cape Town. The Joburg Biennale might have ceased and Cape Africa Platform may have an upward struggle in staging their event but these are exhibitions and not commercial art expositions. There is huge difference in terms of their approach to display and the discourses they engage with and create. Douglas may believe that he is offering an alternative to such events but in no way does or can a primarily commercially driven art initiative be able to compete or achieve the same objectives as a biennale. These Joburg Art Fairs only provide a temporary diversion and will no doubt cease to be of any interest once the makeshift galleries inside the Sandton Convention are pulleddown to make way for the next exposition.
South African Art Times.
Art life renews itself through recession : Continued from page 1 Fuelled by his passion for historical context, Siebrits has been dedicated to the research and publishing side of his business, having produced a range of immaculately produced catalogues, contributing to the growth of the careers in his care. But at R150 000 per month, before they’d even started with catalogue expenses, their overheads had started to become crippling, says Siebrits. ‘We’ve been subsidising our contemporary shows through our sales in the secondary market for some time now.’ More than a freak quirk, the gallery’s imminent closure is a sign of the times. ‘What we’re going through is not unique,’ says Siebrits. ‘Sadly, no one is immune.’ But on a more heartening note, he recalls one of his personal highpoints since opening the gallery seven years ago. He doesn’t hesitate in saying that handling Gerard Sekoto’s painting, Soka Majoka (Sixpence a Door), featured as part the 2003 group show, Art and Urbanisation, has been his greatest honour. Painted in 1946/7, it is considered Sekoto’s most important painting, having been part of an exhibition that travelled the world in the late 1940s, when it was admired by the Queen Mother and featured in Time magazine. ‘In 2002, I sold that painting for R1-million, and played a part in catalysing the Sekoto market,’ says Siebrits proudly, from under the dapper brim of one of his signature hats. ‘At that stage, no South African painting had sold for so much. If it went back on the market today, it would fetch about R10-million, conservatively, which shows how much the market has changed since when we first started the gallery.’ Siebrits will soon be embarking on a new chapter working privately as a Web-based dealer, specialising in rare art, signed books and other
ephemera (warrensiebrits.co.za). His gallery might not be around for much longer, but we’re likely to hear more from this indomitable character who has already made a significant mark on South African art history.This week’s news must have come as a tough blow to his artists, but Siebrits is committed to finding the right match for each of them with other leading galleries and to sustaining his relationship with them on a personal basis. Something about the solid and ethical manner in which Siebrits and his partner, Lunetta Bartz, have run their gallery had me believing that, like hot buttered toast, it would somehow always be around.
Melvyn Minnaar Connecting with da people If you really wanted to depress yourself about the nonsense sometimes offered as ‘art’, a visit to a far-a-way corner of the recent Decorex at the CTICC was pure poison. Using the designation ‘kitsch’ seemed an all too easy write-off for bad taste and visual stupidity that filled stall after stall next to pretty chairs. At first one laughed a bit at heftypriced, funky frames with what resembled pop-up mini opera-designs (with that specific patina of the unreal realness of stage decor) in careful (built-in) lighting. Then the sad penny dropped that this event is where interior people are supposed to acquire their ideas and the stuff that get them a spot on Top Billing and Pasella. This is where you’d throw quite a few thousand rand around for a new couch and a couple of lampshades, and possibly buy something to hang on the wall. Of nice art (we’re not talking deep, hefty stuff that only attracts the initiated) that will cheer up a smart little apartment, bring zing to a business
David Brown TWO MEN AND THEIR DOG AND OTHER WORKS 6 - 30 May 2009 Opening reception: Wednesday, 6 May at 6pm
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office, or add life to a family mansion, there was nothing to be seen. One would have thought that a smart little gallery with affordable, good prints (of which there are so many being made right here and now in the Mother city) and a knowledgeable person on duty could have used the opportunity. But, I suppose, when the halls are filled up with framed twaddle, the competition is overwhelming. (The much-punted and popular Design Indaba also seemed to have run out of steam on this point.) In a way, such amusing scenes at Decorex hinted again about the gentle crisis in the contemporary art world, where people simply don’t know - and get waylaid by talk and money. (Oh, and a nice frame.) After all the hoopla which saw the local galleries up north for the Joburg Art Fair, most are back with little to report on sales and influence. How long they’ll hang on to the blind belief in the fabulous bond between money, fame and art remains to be seen. Maybe we’ll see some of them in the Decorex corner next year. If Gauteng (who tried so hard, way back, with its biennales) is working to box (hopefully) exciting and new art within that money/fame paradigm, the Cape, at least, still has, well, Cape.
As the merry month of May gets into its stride, that rather chimerical organisation which sometimes also goes as the Cape Africa Platform has launched its second effort at a city-wide art event, Cape 09. Those who remember those early days - the sad chaotic talk-shop called Sessions eKapa, way back in 2005, the over-reaching plans for
TransCape and the flaccid Cape 07 - may smile that Cape 09 is now punted as a biennale. Throughout those hot-headed years, the political correctness of being otherwise, the organisers refused to use the word ‘biennale’; in the present version, Cape 09 is firmly named as such. (Important to note that this signals that there is a two-year future for such an event, even though the organisers are already saying they’ll do something next year at the time you-knowwhat-cup.) To be honest, this year’s programme looks promising, even exciting in preview. There seems to be a reality-checked honesty about the fifteen or so projects that will unfold during the month. The hoopla has been contained and the curatorial mumbo-jumbo is not too dizzying. But what is particularly heartening is not that the sights are not set too high, but that there seems to be a genuine effort to connect with people on the ground. Previously politically-correct (anti-gallery and sometimes highly patronising) curatorial decisions collapsed due to lack of proper logical and management support. Most of the present projects look as if their very reason-of-being is grounded among Capetonians of all persuasions. February’s Spier performance festival, Infecting the City, showed that, even if they are slightly flabbergasted at what they are confronted with in the name of art, da people can connect. Cape 09’s installations, performances, site specific works, processions, and the rest, the organisers say, are “participatory, encouraging visitors to step inside art and discover new ways of looking and thinking about life today.” Now isn’t that a much nicer invitation than having to decide whether you want to hang some Decorex kitsch on your wall, and still now know that it ain’t art?
A quality selection of SA old masters and selected contemporary art
www. art wessels.co.za
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Tel (+27) 12 346-0728 / Fax (+27) 12 346-0729 email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org Alette 082 652 6663
Gerrie 084 589 0711
Alette Wessels Kunskamer
Maroelana Centre, 27 Maroelana Street, Maroelana, Pretoria GPS S25º 46.748' EO28º 1.5615' OPEN Mon to Fri 09h00 - 16h00 Saturday 09h00 - 13h00
Churchill Madikida, Virus, DVD projection, 2005
Lisa Walker, Delilah ceramic, wire
Clementina van der Walt Masks ceramic 2005
Leora Farber Cultivars: Perrusonii wax, plastic, fabric, plant material 2006-7
Hylton Humboldt Nel Madonna and child earthenware, 1985
Lisa Walker Pine seed ceramic, wire, beads
Carla da Cruz Growth glazed earthenware 2008
COLLECTIONS AT THE NELSON MANDELA METROPOLITAN ART MUSEUM South African art (particularly that of the Eastern Cape), British art, international printmaking, Oriental art (including Indian miniatures and Chinese textiles). EXHIBITIONS Art Talk Until 26 May 2009 Art Talk explores three categories of visual communication, namely, narrative, iconography and expression. Celebrated artists on display include William Kentridge, Penny Siopis and Andrew Verster. Also featured is the “Mendi” triptych by Hilary Graham which tells a story of the sinking of the troopship Mendi. New Acquisitions Until 26 May 2009 Recent acquisitions of works into the permanent collections of the Art Museum by some of South Africa’s top contemporary artists including Berni Searle, Churchill Madikida, Conrad Botes and Durant Sihlali. Local artists featured are Marc Pradervand, Christine Dixie, Brent Meistre and Maureen de Jager. Scenes in the street 7 May – 12 July 2009 A playful look at street scenes through the eyes of artists including Tommy Motswai’s City scene/Township scene, George Msimang’s The bus stop and The flower sellers by Hugo Naude. Street scenes as seen through the lenses of local photographers Marc Shoul and Rob Duker, who have extensively documented life in Mandela Bay, will also be on display.
Decade: Highlights from 10 years of collecting for the Sanlam Art Collection 5 June – 19 July 2009 A selection of works by some of South Africa’s most valued and emerging artists from the Sanlam Art Collection, one of South Africa’s finest collections of South African Art. With holdings of more than 2000 items, the collection provides a representative overview of South African art dating from the late nineteenth century to the present. Standard Bank Young Artist 2009: Nicholas Hlobo 30 July – 20 September 2009 The 2009 Standard Bank Young Artist award winner for Visual Arts, Nicholas Hlobo, uses strategically chosen materials to “create conversations” around issues of masculinity, gender, race and ethnicity.
Nelson Mandela Metropolitan Art Museum Biennial 2008 Award Winners: Linga Diko 17 October – 15 November 2009 Linga Diko’s extensive volume of work represents, through delicate mark-making and subtle humour, the struggles and hopes of people living under difficult conditions. Christine Maree 23 October – 25 November 2009 Christine Maree’s body of works will focus on the family portrait as an indicator of familial dynamics and relations, particularly in a South African context.
Poking fun 25 July – 25 November 2009 Works from the Art Museum’s permanent collection which explore humour, biting commentary and satire. From depictions of power, greed and lust to candycoloured malice, this exhibition is full of dark humour and artistic insight.
1 Park Drive, Port Elizabeth, 6001, South Africa Telephone: +27 (0)41 5062000 Fax: +27 (0)41 5863234 E-mail: email@example.com Website: www.artmuseum.co.za
10 DAYS OF AMAZ!NG GRAHAMSTOWN, SOUTH AFRICA
2-11 JULY 2009
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KULTURSTIFTUNG DES BUNDES
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The City of Cape Town, in collaboration with Cape Friends of Calligraphy and artb Gallery, has the pleasure of inviting you to an exhibition of letters and calligaphy.
Opening: Wednesday 20 May 2009 18:30 for 19:00 Venue: artb, Gallery Bellville Library Centre Carel van Aswegen Street, Bellville Exhibition closes: 17 June 2009
12 Wellington Road, Durbanville. Tel. +27 (0)21 9764691 www.rust-en-vrede.com Mon – Fri 9am –5pm. Sat 9am – 1 pm
082 5535 104 firstname.lastname@example.org ‘Landscapes, cityscapes and still lives, journeys in colour, form and equilibrium. My inspiration is taken from my surroundings, from travel and things that are beautiful.’ Cape Town artist working in oil, acrylic, pastel, charcoal and mixed media on canvas and paper. BAFA - Unisa Advanced Diploma Painting - Wits
5 May – 28 May Salon A: On the Surface - Pots by Mervyn Gers Salon B: The Exquisite Corpse : A portfolio of 16 uniquely collaborated etchings,based on the theme of an Adam and an Eve, by Judy Woodborne, Chris Diedericks, Paul Birchall, Eunice Geustyn, Theo Kleynhans, Richard Kilpert, Diane Victor, Julia Teale Pot by Mervyn Gers
Salon C: ONTHOU/VERGEET – by Theo Kleynhans
Inspired Painting Courses at La Creuzette, France Pastel Master Classes
Painting & Cooking Course
30 August 07 September
03 - 11 October
Louis Jansen van Vuuren presents this advanced art course - using pastels as the main medium in his studio at la Creuzette. At the end of the stay at la Creuzette, one night in Paris and a private tour of the Orangerie museum are included!
An ideal opportunity for couples and friends who wish to travel together, but each focuses on a different passion – food or art or even BOTH!
L a C r e u z e t t e , 1 7 Av e n u e D ’ A u v e r g n e , 2 3 6 0 0 B o u s s a c F r a n c e . w w w. l a c r e u z e t t e . c o m a n d j a n s e n - v a n - v u u r e n @ w a n a d o o . f r
The National School of the Arts
The Festival of Fame, now heading into its eighth year, brings youth and professionals together for five days of exciting and dynamic activities, workshops, events and productions in all of the art forms.
Saturday 9 May 17 Hoofd Street Braamfontein Tel + 27 11 339 6539 Fax+ 27 11 339 6695 email@example.com www.artschool.co.za
art dance drama music
17 Hoofd Street, Braamfontein Tel +27 11 339 6539 Fax + 27 11 339 6695 firstname.lastname@example.org www.festivaloffame.co.za
Since its inception in 2002, this event has • showcased the talents of young people, up-and-coming stars, and established artists • given young people the opportunity to engage with professional artists • provided stimulating learning experiences in five full days of structured activities • provided opportunities to explore and experiment with the art forms in practical and exciting workshops and competitions • presented artistic and cultural performances and shows of outstanding quality • generated excitement around arts and culture in young people • promoted and enlivened the concept of the “cultural arc”, bring people back into the Braamfontein area
LAN REID A Cape Artist working in the Romantic Impressionist Style Influenced by the natural beauty of the Western Cape as well as my travels abroad, I enjoy working on a variety of subjects in all media. In my work I strive to capture the intense light and vibrant colour that is the lens through which I see the world. I have had 6 solo exhibitions and exhibited in numerous collective exhibitions. My work is owned by collectors, both at home and abroad and I am happy to accept commissions.
Mobile: +27 83 333 4834
in•fin•arT Custom Picture Framers & Art Gallery
Wolfe Street • Chelsea • Wynberg • Tel: 021 761 2816 + Buitengracht Street • Cape Town • Tel: 021 423 2090 E-mail: email@example.com • web www.infinart.co.za
The Hout Street Gallery 270 Main Street, Paarl The Gallery is open Monday - Saturday from 08:30 - 5:30 pm and on Sunday from 10:00 - 5:00 pm Visit www.houtstreetgallery.co.za or contact 021 872 5030
SWART The Fencing Studio 60 x 60 cm Oil
CHRISTOPHER MøLLER ART SOUTH AFRICAN CONTEMPORARY AND MASTERS
82 Church Street (Corner Church & Loop Street) Cape Town, 8001, South Africa Tel: +27 21 439 3517, Fax: 086 611 3871 Cell: 083 312 3450 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: www.christophermollerart.co.za
“Blue”, a group show Thursday 14th – 30th of May, 2009. Lionel Smit, “Awe II”, oil on canvas
Lipschitz Gallery is a well established art company which assists private and corporate buyers wanting to purchase South African art. We represent and promote a wide spectrum of artists in all genres nationally and internationally, and are also known and respected for our work in the secondary art market. Our gallery team specialises in providing full consultation services and valuations. tel/fax 27 44 533 4581
cell 082 900 6631
hill house one main street plettenberg bay po box 1732 6600 gps S34° 03.405’ E023° 22.330’
South-African Ceramics: Linnware, Kalahari, Rorke’s Drift & Anglo-Oriental Ceramics
14 May - 30 May 2009
red black and white 5A Distillery Road, Bosman’s Crossing, Stellenbosch Enquiries: +27 (0) 21 886 6281 | email@example.com www.redblackandwhite.co.za
Carl Buchner (1921-2003) Blue Harlequin Oil on Board 490 x 370 mm
The Philip Harper Galleries Hermanus, Western Cape www.thephilipharpergalleries.co.za firstname.lastname@example.org We specialise in South African Art, both Old Masters and select Contemporary Artists, catering for both corporate and private clients Oudehof Mall, 167 Main Road, Hermanus, Tel: 028 3124836