THE SOUTH AFRICAN
October 2009 For the full online edition go to: www.arttimes.co.za SUBSCRIBE: 1 year’s subscription to your door: R 180 - Incl. Business Art. E-mail: email@example.com
Artist’s feature supplement
Work by Namibian artist and “shared experiences” residency holder Jost Kirsten. Fire is a part of the process of the making of the artwork. See www.berlin-windhoek.org for more.
A & C World Summit closes on sobering note
Bongani Madondo chats with Brett Bailey Staff writer The outcome of the 4th World Summit on Arts and Culture saw a sobering look at South Africa’s role in fostering intercultural dialogue around the continent. During the discussion Max Du Preez commented that originally Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Desmond Tutu “seduced us into the false consciousness” of a
Photo: Christopher Lorentz
rainbow nation, while in practice, we are still far from it. Yet these observations were not doomsday in tone, but served as a source of inspiration for the likes of poet and actress Lebo Mashile, who said ‘we are over the euphoria of being a rainbow nation now. It’s time that we come up with real solutions for the problems that we are facing in South Africa’.
Mashile fore-grounded the role of the arts in transformation saying ‘we, as artists, are in the position and the places where we are doing the work. We are the agents of change’. However, as the Sowetan reported, the summit failed to attract local artists, instead attracting policy makers. Despite this lack of support, a notable recommendation came from keynote speaker Njabulo Ndebele who, along the lines of the summits theme, the role of the arts in intercultural dialogue, called for a policy formulation that ‘allows for dialogue during a period of contemplation that will deepen understanding when strangeness is encountered’. Read Mary Corrigall’s in depth article in Business Art
Goodman Cape loses stalwart of SA Art branch in 2007, is no longer with the gallery. According to new owner Lisa Essers, the former Director took ‘voluntary retrenchment’ as part of measures taken by the gallery to address the growing recession.
Emma Bedford Staff writer Lisa Essers cites recession for ushering in new changes at the Goodman Gallery Cape. Effective Friday, Emma Bedford who, under Linda Givon, established the Goodman’s Cape
Before her involvement in the private sector with the Goodman Gallery, Bedford played an unparalleled role as curator of the Iziko National Gallery. With
When she moved to the Goodman Gallery in 2007 her announcement was greeted with international interest with Annie Coombes saying that the Goodman ‘couldn’t find a better equipped individual to get the gallery started in Cape Town’. Bedford’s contribution, not only to the Goodman Gallery, but also to the development South African art locally and internationally has been unparalleled, with her standing as a luminary figure in the artistic landscape.
YOUR NEXT PAINTING COULD BE YOUR MASTERPIECE
LI T UA Y
‘The Cape Town market has seen some difficult times recently and we are all doing what we have to’ commented Essers further. Cape curator of the Goodman, Storm Janse Van Rensburg said that Bedford’s retrenchment comes as ‘huge shock and loss’ saying that she will be sorely missed.
some 25 years experience in the field of curating and championing contemporary African art, a particularly notable achievement of Bedford’s was her involvement in an exhibition for the Forum for African Arts hosted by the 49th Venice Biennale in 2001.
SO DON’T TAKE CHANCES
Artists’ Oil Paint
USE A PROFESSIONAL QUALITY PAINT
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Important Decorative & Fine Arts Auction Cape Town 20 & 21 October 2009
JH Pierneef, THE BAOBAB R 2 400 000 – 2 800 000
Stanley Pinker SUNTAN R 300 000 – 400 000
Pieter Hugo Naudé, FORT JESUS, MOMBASA R 200 000 – 250 000
Alexis Preller STILL LIFE WITH AFRICAN HEAD AND HORSE SKULL R1 200 000 - 1 600 000
Enquiries and Catalogues Cape Town Office: 021 794 6461 At the Saleroom, Kirstenbosch From Friday 16 October Saturday 17 October Venue Tel: 021 761 4288 10am to 3pm Old Mutual Conference & Exhibition Centre, Fax: 021 761 2704 Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Sunday 18 October Rhodes Drive, Newlands, Cape Town www.swelco.co.za 10am to 5pm Preview Friday 16 October 10am to 8pm
Auction Tuesday 20 October 2009 at 10am, 2.30pm and 7pm Wednesday 21 October 2009 at 10am
Ruth Prowse ST GEORGE’S STREET R 140 000 – 180 000
South African Art Times.
New trend of art project spaces in Cape Town and Jo’burg A new trend is growing that is bucking the recession; project spaces. Galleries like the Goodman and David Krut publishing have opened satellite spaces at Arts on Main in Braamfontein, and now Whatiftheworld in Cape Town is following suite. Collaborating with design house Doktor and Misses, Whatiftheworld present Co-Op, situated at 68 Juta Street in Braamfontein, opening on the 8th of October in conjunction with the Jo’burg leg of the Spring Art Tour. According to Ashleigh Mclean ‘we feel that there is a gap / need within the Jo’burg gallery landscape for a more dynamic space that works with emerging contemporary artists, and introduces collectors to some new names’. Introducing the design element to the project space with Doktor and Misses side will have a workshop in the space separate to the exhibition space that will see collaborations that will include none other than David West. In Cape Town, the country’s ‘first
project space’ (according to its owner Jonathan Garnham), Blank Projects has finally found a new location. Since relocating from their old premises in the Bo-Kaap, Blank has struggled to find a suitable venue. Opening a 150 square meter venue opposite the old Bell Roberts on Main Road in Woodstock, a new era of Blank will be born geared to project driven contemporary art exhibitions with their first offering presenting a video-installation by Swiss based artists Marianne Halter and Mario Marchisella. The YoungBlackman has opened next to the Book Lounge in conjunction with the launch of Sue Williamsons new book South African Art Now. The project space, a collaboration between Ed Young and novelist Matthew Blackman, will aptly debut with a showing of Williamsons video piece ‘Better Lives’. (Right) The new iArt Project Space aimed at a younger audience living at Wembly Square, (Below) Youngblackman project space who’s large shopfront window capitalises on location and passing traffic
Sue Williamson launches long awaited book: South African Art Now South African Art Now, the highly anticipated publication by Sue Williamson was launched at the Book Lounge on Tuesday the 29th September. Publications dealing exclusively with contemporary South African Art are surprisingly few and far between, which is why Sue Williamsons newest addition to the
growing discourse is sure to be met with huge interest. Williamson is known to be a respected commentator on South African art with her previous two texts, Resistance Art in South Africa, published in 1989 and South African Art: The Future Present, co-authored with Ashraf Jamal published in 1996, gaining
canonical status. Spanning a period of some 50 years from the 1960’s, South African Art Now aims to document the role of art and artists in the evolution of today’s post-apartheid South Africa, thereby taking the pulse of South Africa’s rapidly growing art scene.
South African Art Times.
Night of 1000 Drawings
Night of 1000 Drawings is a onenight-only art exhibition showcasing the vast and varied creative talents of the city. Cape Town, Johannesburg, Amsterdam and Dubai will host the event – each city adding its own spice to create something specifically suited to its unique arty flavour. For its third year running, Cape Town’s Night of 1000 Drawings is set to surpass all expectations. For the main event on 5 November 2009 at the Woodstock Industrial Centre on Albert Road, in excess of one thousand A5-sized artworks will be on sale for R100 each and all profits go to three carefully selected charity organisations: Write on Africa, an urban rejuvenation project incorporating murals, food tents and capacity development in Cape Town; Paballo ya Batho, an inner city feeding project in Jo’burg; and Princess Alice Adoption Home in Jo’burg. With an epic task to collect more than 1000 drawings, Cape Town’s Night of 1000 Drawings team is
asking everyone from professional artists and designers to school kids, business people and creative doodlers to donate A5 drawings. The brief – ‘draw anything, on anything, with anything as long as it’s A5’. Doodle sessions have already begun in preparation for the main event – these mini events bring together potential doodle donors in really cool environments that inspire creativity. ‘Sketch Away Thursdays’ happen on the last Thursday of the month at Woodstock Industrial Centre (the Word of Art studio). Each of these evenings is themed, so there’s plenty to experience while doodling. At the ‘Sketch Away Thursday – Acoustic Doodle’, doodlers enjoyed wine and great tunes from some of the city’s up-andcoming musicians. Doodle and add your A5 creation to the eclectic mix. This exhibition knows no boundaries – every donation goes on display. • ‘Doodle Earth’ will see a dedicated drawing tent set up at
Earthdance – the outdoor party for peace and environmental change that happens simultaneously all over the world from 25 to 27 September. Partygoers can chill-out and draw in the ‘Doodle Earth’ tent where all stationary and equipment will be provided. • ‘Doodle at the Daisies’ will see a doodle tent full of creative surprises at Rocking the Daisies, South Africa’s premier eco-friendly music and lifestyle festival from 9 to 11 October. • The ‘Doodle on the Mountain’ session on 15 October will see doodlers creating magic on the top of Table Mountain. The Table Mountain Aerial Cableway has come on board and offered a free cable car trip up. • To put your name on the mailing list, e-mail email@example.com and get involved in these and many other doodles. A5 artworks can also be donated at one of the designated drop off points:
Woodstock Industrial Centre, Deckle Edge stores throughout the Western Cape and the g-mo footwear stall at the Neighbourgoods market at the Old Biscuit Mill every Saturday. At the main event on 5 November 2009, the Woodstock Industrial Centre will be transformed into a large-scale exhibition space. Rus Nerwich and the Collective Imagination in collaboration with other artists will entertain while the crowd enjoys an art extravaganza like no other. Absolutely everyone is welcome! The 1000 Drawings Jozi will be on 12 November 2009 at a mysterious new venue in the JHB city centre (TBA). Drop off points at any Lulu coffee shop across the city (www.eatlulu.com). Sign up to firstname.lastname@example.org to keep in the Jozi loop. Website: www.1000drawings.co.za
South African Art Times.
Alexander Podlashuc (1930-2009) servative and reactionary Melvin Simmers and Edward Roworth, Podlashuc’s critical and somewhat rebellious nature, as well as his interest in modern art saw him clash with his mentors and he was expelled from the School. He then went to London where he trained at the Central School of Art under some of the most notable British artists of the day, including Mervyn Peake, the famous author of the Ghormenghast trilogy. His other mentors were the graphic genius Gertrude Hermes, Victor Pasmore, Keith Vaughan and William Roberts. From Roberts he absorbed some of the stylistic aspects of British Vorticism, which became a trademark of his later South African work.
Alexander Podlashuc 2009 Well-known South African artist and art educator Alexander Podlashuc has died in Cape Town at the age of 79. Born in Pretoria in 1930, he and his late wife Marianne (died 2004) became a famous artistic duo who were founder members of the Bloemfontein Group who exhibited extensively. ‘Pod’, as he was affectionately known by family,
Photo: Hayden Proud friends and students, was a superb graphic artist and painter. His life encompassed separate careers in Pretoria, Bloemfontein, Port Elizabeth and Cape Town. In Pretoria as a youth he moved in the circles of Frans Oerder, Alexis Preller and Walter Battiss. His formal artistic training began when he was only 16 at the Michaelis School of Fine Art at UCT. Here, under the con-
Pod’s London training pointed him in the direction of becoming a graphic artist and a caricaturist for Punch magazine. He moved freely in the world of post-war Britain and as a portraitist and cartoonist he became a familiar with many notable cultural and political figures of the day, including Peter Ustinov and the brilliant military tactician Basil Liddell-Hart. A hint of caricature always informed the best of his oil paintings and prints. After a period spent in the Netherlands, he returned to South Africa in the early 1950s, settling in Bloemfontein, where he worked in the magazine and publishing industry with such publications as Outspan, The Friend and Personality. It was here that he met and married his Dutch-born wife Marianne in 1957. Exhibiting as members of the Bloemfontein Group, and widely elsewhere as a
husband and wife team, they came to national attention. In 1964 ‘Pod’ was appointed to the Port Elizabeth Technikon School of Art and Design, where as its head, he influenced generations of students. Here, as art critic to Die Oosterlig, he also became known for his forthright opinions on artistic matters. By this time his work was represented in all the major galleries in the country. Continuing to practice as an artist, he became a prominent member of the cultural world of the Eastern Cape. His print portfolio The Passion of Judas Iscariot (1978-1981) was a major artistic achievement in this period. Pod and Marianne retired to live and work in Cape Town in 1990, where they held a number of exhibitions and where, after her death in 2004, he wrote a number of novels. In 2006 he was honoured by the Suid Afrikaanse Akademie vir Wetenskap en Kuns for his contribution to the visual arts. A great raconteur on the artistic and political worlds of Britain and South Africa in the post-1945 era, his vitality and sharp intellect will be missed. Alexander Cecil Podlashuc, born 19 March, 1930, Pretoria; died Cape Town, 5 September, 2009. Married to Marianne Podlashuc (1932-2004). Predeceased by his son Boris (1967-1984). He is survived by his son, Leopold. Hayden Proud Curator of Paintings and Sculpture Iziko South African National Gallery
Cattle in the water and the boy
Man riding a bicycle near Lydenburg
Two men cutting grass
Orange Houses and water carriers in a farm near Lydenburg
“It’s clear that local and international collectors see more in Novela’s work than his extraordinary technique and love for his subject. They see Novela as a good investment” New homes Magazine. Daniel has exhibited regularly in Gauteng and completed a successful tour in Europe. In September 2006 Daniel had his rst international exhibition in New York at the Sankaranka Art Gallery. Firstly the works are special and have integrity, secondly, a Novela canvas is fast increasing in value. As a relatively recent discovery, his true worth has yet to be established. So he is therefore considered a good investment opportunity. “His rened landscapes are inltrating galleries and private collections as his especial brand of African impressionism becomes better known. His success is a result of years of hardship in an almost stereotypical story of an artist who would not let go of his dream”. Business Weekender by Elizabeth Donaldson.
To book an appointment please contact the studio at: 018 489 1780 or 082 262 3600, email@example.com To view Daniel Novela’s work go to: www.danielnovela.co.za
Exit To Bleaks Domain 1971, Private collection
FREDERICK HUTCHINSON (FRED) PAGE 1908-1984
Supplement to The South African Art Times “I get an emotional impact from architecture. These strange old buildings with blank faces.... You know there’s some activity inside - you don’t know what it is...it becomes sinister. It takes you away from other elements in the picture and gives you a feeling of utter remoteness....It helps in a composition. “ Frederick Hutchinson Page occupies a niche in South African art as a so-called surrealist painter. Labeled as a Surrealist early on in his career because of the dark and sometimes macabre tenor of his subject matter, Page however, does not entirely conform to the established tenets of the European Surrealist movement although he must have seen and been aware of them as there are traceable evidences of their influence in his work. Today, he should be seen more as magical realist rather than a surrealist. The most distinctive aspect of his work is the recognisable skylines or buildings in Port Elizabeth which feature in nearly all the images he made. Page is quite unique and much more of a maverick than is commonly acknowledged, especially when seen in the context of Apartheid-era South African
art at the time which was largely cut-off from direct interaction with the main European and Western art movements. Unimpressed by modern art movements or main stream trends, his working life took place in Port Elizabeth which was well away from the main centres of South African art-making anyway and which, at that time, was backwater with a distinctly English colonial flavour to all its cultural activities. His mature career took place over a period of about 40 years where he worked almost totally in isolation without having much to do with other artists, following his own peculiar interests and obsessions. His work arose as a direct consequence of his lonely childhood which developed and consolidated his emotional hardiness, an army career which he entered into with reluctance which kept him alive during two World Wars and the reclusive solitary existence he lived out in the suburb of Central in Port Elizabeth.
Flamingoes 1962, Private collection
All the Pies in the Sky She Said With A Giggle 1978, NMMAM, Pen and ink
The Salad 1960s lino, NMMAM Too bad about the polony 1974, Iziko Museum CT
The Key 1970, Private Collection
About the Work
Influence of the Artist’s style
Page’s work has never been popular. However, his strangely perceptive images have earned him a devoted band of private collectors who, for the most part, do not know why the works attract them but somehow understand that they unerringly tap into the universal zeitgeist of human angst and undeclared fears. The library of strange characters that eventually came to inhabit his paintings range from normal people executed in a curious cartoon-like format to the oddest of characters and creatures. Most are clothed in a wardrobe of either long Edwardian semi-formal clothes or quasi-military uniforms or in the case of young women, mini-skirts - which became fashionable during the ‘60s and 70’s. Most of the protagonists wear sun-glasses, a signature device which Page used to hide eye expression. His characters include amputees, stunted figures, beggars, clowns, babies, shop dummies and animals and insects from the real world and a variety of imaginary creatures from the world of fables and stories. In some of the enig-
matic rituals taking place in the images, sharp bits of either medical or scientific equipment feature, often brandished at the point of being stuck into someone. Using the geometric formalities and details of masonry in the compositions to establish a sense of stability, his living subjects are arranged in theatrical tableaux. There appears to be no rationality or logic in the events taking place and the images resonate with a heightened sense of psychic tension. The titles to each piece, where they exist, are often deliberately obscure, often whimsical or satirical and may have literary or historic references. Most events were drawn from anecdotal snippets from his own life or from actual events which cropped up in his social experience. A male figure that looks remarkably like Page himself is a leit-motif throughout his work, appearing throughout the years to age at the same rate as the artist. Although never acknowledged as an autobiographical figure, there is no doubt that Page was a central protagonist in his images –a ring-master who directed events.
Page’s work reflects an idiosyncratic, obsessive and well-hidden interest in the darker aspects of human relationships which he set against the architectural backdrop of Port Elizabeth. Best known for his eerie portrayals of the old buildings of the inner city suburb of Central, these cityscape images have a characteristic sense of foreboding and dereliction highlighted by his signature use of blank black window frames and doorways and decaying fragments of masonry. It is only when looking at the body of his oeuvre that one becomes aware of the powerful underlying themes of alienation, loneliness, cynicism and emotional starkness which haunt the works. Page himself was principally a voyeur of life’s events – a detached observer who gazed inwards from the front of the canvas recording impassively the febrile dramas and sometimes sordid aspects of human interaction. The cartoon-like drawing of the characters and their
anodyne appearance often belies the nature of the interchange taking place. It’s easy for the casual observer to miss the artist’s barbed and often covert dissemination. Page’s paintings are complicated and full of anomalies. Because they are dark and almost monochromatic, details are often murky and hidden away like clues in a puzzle. Early in his career, he chose to work with a limited, dark palette and with acrylic paint which suited his dry arid style. He produced very few oil paintings. Where images can be collated with their titles, they reflect a honed and sophisticated intellect which was incisive, indeed obsessive about revealing the sub-texts of human interaction. Page is one of the few artists who have successfully negotiated the interstices between visual information and mental states without stating the obvious – an acknowledgement of things which remain better unsaid.
The Ethelredas 1972, University of Cape Town
Joan Wright Birdman Fanatic N.D.
The artist as a person
Reconstruction of the artist’s room NMMAM
The Insect 1964, Private Collection Page’s House, Cuyler Crescent, Port Elizabeth When questioned about the content of his images, Page was disingenuous and would side-step any explanation, denying that there was any particular theme or meaning to the events taking place. In
person, he was reticent, diffident and courteous and was always willing to talk about art – just not about his art. Those who knew him said that he was a quiet man with a sardonic sense of humour and a sharp intellect. His speech was always considered. However, he did not suffer fools gladly and could be taciturn and blunt when provoked. When he gradually became less physically able he began to use a Box Brownie camera to record hundreds of architectural details. He developed these photographs in the make-shift darkroom back in his digs and then used the information to form the background or the subject matter for his images. Money was to be a constant problem throughout Page’s working life and was it not for the discrete and unpublicised financial support of a small committed band of
Fred Page as a young man collectors, art museum personnel and patrons, he would probably never have been able to sustain his output of work. At one time, he worked as a doorman at the King George VI gallery as a way of supporting himself. Although never really poverty-stricken, he often lived frugally on sardines, bread and tea. As he became older and frail, he became increasingly reclusive, seldom moving out of the poorly lit confines of his rooming house in Cuyler Crescent in the older part of the city just above the harbour. He developed a crippling spinal
arthritis which bent him almost double. When he could no longer sustain himself, he was persuaded with great reluctance to move to a Frail Care home where he died quietly at the age of 76. To the end he kept and pencil and pad on the table beside his bed. The stooped figure with a cane who walked all over Central is still talked about and remembered as one of the beloved eccentrics of Port Elizabeth. According to some sources, Page may have been one of the first full-time artists in South Africa who tried to live solely off his work
The Look-In at Brinkleys 1972, Kerbel Collection
Donkin Street Houses
Vicinity Albany Road 1970, Private collection
The Last 365 Days 1970, Private Collection
The Sower 1954, F. Scott Collection
What happened to Aunt Gerty 1980, Private collection
The Angel Seller 1971
l’Afrique: A Tribute to Maria Stein-Lessing and Leopold Spiegel Curated by Nessa Leibhammer and Natalie Knight at
Museum Africa, Newtown, Johannesburg running until December 24, 2010
Launch of the Educational programme September 30, 2009 at Museum Africa Taxi Hand Sign Book for Blind People by Susan Woolf: Full colour teachers guide and 20 questions for learners: Essay competition Discovering my Heritage through l’Afrique Further information www.knightgalleries.net
Cecil Skotnes, Reclining Figure, 1970 painted wood panel, woodcut Collection Johannesburg Art Gallery
Barotse wooden bowl Collection Natalie Knight
Maggie Laubser, Woman and Baby, 1922; Collection University of the Witwatersrand
Early life/ inspirations Page was born in Utrecht in Natal in 1908. His father appeared to have been a trader who frequently travelled away from the farmstead home leaving two children with their mother Johanna. Johanna Page was to die in the 1918 Flu pandemic leaving 10 year old Fred and his sister to the mercies of an extended family of uncles and aunts who shunted the children between them, finally depositing Fred in an orphanage in Potchefstroom where he spent two and half years. This was in reality a farming trade school where he was taught poultry husbandry, wagon making and blacksmithing. The instruction also included long hours working outdoors in the fields through the blistering summers and icy cold winter temperatures. The only positive result of this peripatetic existence was that the boy developed a life-long habit of reading voraciously what ever he could find. He discovered the classics – Dickens and Jane Austen - in the orphanage library and contemporary science fiction in the books of (Rider) Ryder Haggard, Arthur C Clarke and Edgar Allen Poe tucked away in neglected stacks in the loft of a bookish uncle. This self-instructive literary background was to form the bed-rock for his imagination and his convoluted intellectual life and was to inform his quirky sense of the ridiculous and the macabre. Throughout his life he remained a passionate reader. He was also a discriminating classical music lover and had a large collection of LP records and tapes which he always played while he worked. At the age of 16 with a Junior Certificate, Page left school and started to look for a job as a poultry man. This was the era of the Great Depression and work was impossible to come by so in 1929, in desperation, he joined the South African Defense Force’s Mounted Artillery wing where he was to serve as a Regimental Signaling Instructor for five years. He hated army routine and in retrospect taciturnly acknowledged that all he had got out of the entire experience was a roof over his head and enough food to sustain him throughout the Depression years. He was discharged in 1934 and for a while went back to civilian life doing a variety of odd jobs which included bar tending and working on goldmines in the Transvaal. He then went to live in Port Elizabeth where his only sister then lived and found a job as a tyre moulder in the newly opened Firestone factory. It was a contingency job which he disliked intensely with its smells of burnt rubber and constant noise and dirt. He also married briefly for short a period, was then divorced and was to then remain single for the rest of his life. When World War II broke out, he re-enlisted as a volunteer signals instructor in the 3rd Battery of the SA Field Artillery serving time in both Durban and Port Elizabeth. He was awarded ‘The Kings Commendation’ for his military service.
Arts Hall circa 1966
Artistic breakthrough On demobilization he was awarded a payment of 250 pounds and also subsequently discovered that he was eligible for a government grant to continue his post-War education. There is no record of when he started to draw but he had attempted earlier to further his career as an artist by trying art by correspondence course. He found this to be frustrating and a waste of time. Nursing a long-standing burning ambition to train as an artist he registered, in 1937, at the Port Elizabeth School of Art which was part of the Port Elizabeth Technical College. The experience was to unleash his creative imagination and was to provide him with the skills and intellectual tools he needed to explore his private and inner worlds. For the following eighteen months, he became a student under the prescient tutelage of an Englishman called Jack Heath and his predominantly English teaching staff. John Charles Wood Heath was trained in Birmingham and at the Royal College of Art in London. He was an accomplished draughtsman and had an Associateship in Engraving. He had trained at a time when Post-War British modernism was at its height. He was contemporary with people like John Piper, Graham Sutherland, Henry Moore and Paul Nash. His teaching principles included disciplines like academic still-life, drawing from life and Art History with an emphasis on the traditional constructs of Renaissance composition. Heath was also an ex-military man who had taken part in the Normandy landings. He was a prize-winning Javelin athlete with a large personality who was not afraid of mincing his words. Page identified with him immediately. Page became a diligent and committed student enjoying the cut and thrust of studio practice under the sharp wit and cuttingly incisive eye of the master. Heath, recognizing the latent oddness and idiosyncratic nature of Page’s imagination, set about teaching him the fundamentals of drawing and composition as a way of liberating his mature student’s inner life. He was astute enough not to meddle with Page’s subject matter or stilted drawing style but allowed the man’s strange imagination to emerge at its own pace. As far as Page was concerned, discipline and application were probably the two most important attributes of Heath’s training.
Heath’s teaching staff had the same art background and training as he did. Here at the Art school, Page was exposed to people like accomplished portrait painter Dorothy Kay and her daughter Joan Wright, both teachers and artists in their own right. Betsy Fordyce, a graphic artist, taught him how to make lino cuts which he could reproduce in series at home using simple tools like the back of a spoon. Joan Wright was to become a valued friend and was to encourage Page to routinely draw and paint some of the old buildings around the area near the art school in Russell Road which was known as Central when he needed money to survive. Other people like sculptor Harry Adkins, painter Jane HeathJack’s wife, and the flamboyant and extravert theatre designer Alexander Kiddie were to encourage and support Page, drawing him into their social circle. On leaving the art school he was awarded a bronze medal. His early work reflects this English Romantic school training.
A year in the life of the artist 1974 was probably one of the artist’s best years. In September he sold three works to the South African National Gallery ( Iziko) for almost R1000 which in those days, for Page was a good price. Amongst these is the “Nuptials of Samantha”, a strange work which has all the fantasy elements for which he is becoming well-known – the bare-foot bridegroom carrying his rigid bride – the two heads up to their noses in water in a pool at his feet – the nude, the handless androgynous figure and the brown fissures which appear on body parts – all enigmatic emblems of his style. He also has the biggest exhibition ever at the Wolpe Gallery in Cape Town where there are many paintings of Port Elizabeth which portray a dream-like world of gaping black windows set in stark white walls. The exhibition also included haunting images of District Six which no longer existed. Page admits to following a theme when asked why there was a particular involvement with the less savoury side of life to which he replied: “Simply because I have not discovered the savoury side”.
1974 in the world
Cecil Kerbel and Joe Wolpe
Middle career After leaving the art school, Page took a job with a local department store as a ticket writer. He chafed at having to work full-time and at the nature of the work but it provided him with enough to live on and was close to Central, the area which fascinated him so much. In the evening and in his spare time, he walked all over the area with a note book, recording details and incidents for translation back in his bedroom cum studio. Most of his friends and fellow artists belonged to the Eastern Province Society of Arts and Crafts (EPSAC) which was an umbrella organization which hosted exhibitions and theatre and music performances in its own Arts Hall which was attached to the newly opened King George VI Art Gallery in Central. Renamed the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan Art Museum the gallery now belongs to the city. The EPSAC Gallery was to become an important forum for Page’s public exposure. He began his public career by participating in joint exhibitions there with fellow artists and was later to hang in the main gallery of the King George VI itself. In 1958, he held his first joint show there with a ceramic artist called Barbara Greig. Critics received him favorably if not with some confusion about which category they could slot him into…. “Bizarre talent with an over-riding strong sense of design….nothing that could be called pretty….”. In 1960, aged 51, he hung 82 works in a solo exhibition in the Arts Hall selling the more conventional works quite easily. The exhibition was transferred to Johannesburg in 1961 where SABC critic Harold Jeppe introduced Page to his first serious collectors. As his confidence developed he tried marketing with limited success through galleries in Johannesburg who found the tenor of his work difficult to sell. In 1963, he was hung by the newly opened Henry Lidchi Gallery in Cape Town who also gave him solo exhibition in Johannesburg in July of 1965. In September of the same year, six works were selected to be hung on a joint South African showing at Eric Estorick’s Grosvenor Gallery in London’s West End- the first international exposure of his work. The following year he was invited to submit work for the prestigious Republican festival held in Pretoria in May. By 1969, the National Gallery in Cape Town (now Iziko) had purchased a work for its collection and Page was garnering increased recognition by both institutions and private collectors. Cognoscenti began to buy Page works – characteristically buying several works at a time. He was also introduced to the art dealer who would champion and market him for the rest of his life- Cape Town gallery owner, Joseph Wolpe. Wolpe had been introduced to Page years before by Desmond Greig, a journalist and close friend who ran an art magazine called ArtLook. Wolpe, recognizing Page’s unique vision and fascinated by the strange quirky images which he made, bought the artist train tickets so that he could attend openings at Wolpe’s gallery in Cape Town. Page loved trains and they feature frequently in his paintings. Wolpe also took Page to see District Six and allowed him to use his own collection of photographs as material for paintings which Page executed back in his Port Elizabeth bed-sit studio.
• Halie Selassie, the Emperor of Ethiopia is deposed • Ballet dancer Mikhail Baryshnikov defects from the Soviet Union • Patty Hearst Kidnapped • The Terracotta army of funerary statues of over 8000 soldiers and their horses is discovered in China • M. Nixon announces he will resign, the first US president to do so. Vice President Gerald R Ford is sworn in as 38th president of the U.S. • Beverly Johnson becomes the first black model on cover of a major fashion magazine • Stephen Hawking proposes new Black Hole theory Hawking proposed the theory that radiation was able to escape the pull of a black hole, which ran counter to Einstein’s theory that nothing, not even light, can escape the pull of a blackhole • The first pocket calculators become widespread The introduction of cheap large-scale integrated chips made it possible for a calculator to be cheaper and smaller. • April 3, 1974 148 tornados devastated 13 U.S. States killing some 330 people and leaving over 5,000 injured, it is the largest reported tornado outbreak in world history. Sources: Wikipedia, timelines www.
1974 in South Africa • A Whites only general election is held and won by the National party • The Rosenkowitz sextuplets are born in Cape Town, the first sextu plets in the world where all six babies survived • Percy Montgomery the Springbok rugby player and Penny Heyns the breaststroke swimmer are born • Thabo Mbeki begins to train South African Students who escapes from South Africa to join the African National Congress in exile. • The World Council of Churches (WCC) calls for an end to multi-million pound investment in South Africa by international banks, to help bring about the collapse of the economy and the end of apartheid. • The South African Olympic and National Games Association reports that all South Africa’s attempts to secure re-admission to the Olympic Games have failed, despite the tremendous strides made to comply with the demands of the IOC. • The Minister of Finance announces a change in the South African exchange rate practice. Henceforward the Rand is tied strictly to the U.S. dollar. • Removals of thousands of Africans are taking place near Middleburg in the Eastern Transvaal, and more are planned for the Eastern Cape Albany district. • The U.K. Department of Trade confirms that all arms sales to South Africa are halted. • In the United Nations Security Council ‘Pik’ Botha says that South Africa will do everything in its power to move away from discrimination based on race or colour.
Bibliography 1. Fourie, J. 1997. Beeld en Betekenis in die Skilderkuns van Fred Page . Master’s dissertation, University of the Orange Free State 2. Fourie, J. 1982. ’n Interpretasie van Fred Page se Beelding. Honours dissertation, University of South Africa. 3. Hillebrand, M. 1993. Fred Page. Ons Kuns 4. Foundation for Education, Science and Technology, Pretoria. 4. Hillebrand, M n.d. Unpublished article on Page 5. Holliday, C. 1992. Unpublished manuscript comprising interviews and commentary. 6. Kerbel, C. n.d. Newspaper cuttings, personal files and memorabilia. 7. Nelson Mandela Metropolitan Art Museum (NMMAM) archives, formerly the King George VI Art Gallery, Port Elizabeth 8. Slabbert N. 1971. Fred Page. College for Advanced Technical Education, Port Elizabeth. 9. Slabbert N. April, 1975. The Logic of Darkness, Standpunte 118. Die Suid-Afrikaanse Akademie vir Wetenskap en Kuns. 10. Podlashuc A. 1992 a. Peripheral Perceptions of the Surreal – The Suburban Nightmare of Frederick Hutchinson Page. Opening address for the exhibition at UNISA Art Gallery, September. 11. Podlashuc A. 1992 b. Fred Page 1908–1984. Essay in the catalogue of the Page exhibition, UNISA Art Gallery
Researched and written by Jeanne Wright
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SA Art Times Contemporary Artist Profile
Daniel Novela Vaal Triangle Technikon, where he graduated as one of the top students in his class.
Painting outdoors and taking his inspiration from the movements of everyday life, Daniel Novela has developed a distinct style that can be described as African impressionism. ‘The light is best in the morning’, Novela exclaims, explaining that this is when the best tonal value of his subjects is revealed to him. ‘By midday everything begins looking all dull and washed out’. Having exhibited extensively abroad with shows in the United States, Austria, Germany and Switzerland, Novela has seen things change dramatically in his artistic career, with a definite highlight being a show at the United Nations in New York. Born LouisTrichardt, on the 1st of December 1964, Novela grew up in Mozambique and returned to South Africa in 1984 where he found his way to Klerksdorp and began painting for a living, where he struggled to afford money for materials, let alone support his family. It was not until 1998 that he was given the opportunity to study his life long passion by enrolling at the
Novela describes how he has found that he cannot be prescriptive when looking for subjects, saying ‘one day I will pass something in which I see great potential and then the next day it looks totally different’. This has led Novela to paint directly from life, seen clearly in the atmospheric quality of light his works manage to capture. The plenitude of the highveld sky finds itself that is communicated gesturally next to carefully controlled and detailed brushwork in the figures, making Novela’s paintings distinctive in their combination of expression and attention to detail.
of Art History from the University of the North West, John Botha describes Novela’s vision as being ‘embedded in the long tradition of Impression that can be said to have stared with Turner’. With such praise levelled at his work, Novela’s contribution to South African painting cannot be underestimated with his future looking increasingly bright.
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After his graduation things began to change for Novela. When exhibiting at Zoo Lake with Artists Under the Sun on the first weekend of every month, Novela began to be collected widely. It is here that his work caught the attention of Gambian gallerist Saihou Saidy, who owns Sankaranka Art Gallery in New York and specialises in African art. Yet, whilst Novela might be described as an ‘African’ artist, he does not see his style as falling so easily into such categories, citing influences such as John Constable, Trevor Chamberlain and Richard Schmid that have infiltrated his work. Here his paintings tell the story of pastoral landscapes and of the characters that people it. In his still life studies, Novela shows a distinct understanding of tone and colour and reveals an eye intuitively adept in form and composition. Associate Professor
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