Page 1

THE SOUTH AFRICAN

ART TIMES

September 2008 • Issue 9 Vol 3 • RSA Subscription 180 p.a • September Print & Distrib. 7 000 copies • Online version available at www.arttimes.co.za

Neville Dubow 1933 - 2008 UC

LEN Q

PROD

LI T UA Y

, PROFESSIONAL

T ZEL


Page 2

The South African

Art Times

South African Art Times.

Sasol runs for cover from controversial photograph decision of the judges, but stating that they had a right to express a view on any decision.

September 2008 www.arttimes.co.za

“We also recognise that some members of the Sasol staff as well as some members of the public may be challenged or even offended by the piece and we feel it is both responsible and appropriate, that we distance Sasol from the artwork.”

Published monthly by

Global Art Information PO Box 15881 Vlaeberg, 8018, Cape Town Tel. 021 424 7733 Fax. 021 424 7732 Editor: Gabriel Clark-Brown editor@arttimes.co.za Advertising: Leone Rouse leo@arttimes.co.za Subscriptions: Bastienne Klein subs@arttimes.co.za

Richardt Strydom’s Familieportret 2

News: press@arttimes.co.za Shows: show@arttimes.co.za Artwork: art@arttimes.co.za

By Patrick Burnett

Layout: Newyearsday Media Deadlines for news, articles and classifieds 20th of each month The Art Times is published in the first week of each month. News and advertising material need to be with the news and marketing managers by the 15th- 20th of each month. Newspaper rights: The newspaper reserves the right to reject any material that could be found offensive by its readers. Opinions and views expressed in the SA Art Times do not necessarily represent the official viewpoint of the editor, staff or publisher, while inclusion of advertising features does not imply the newspaper’s endorsement of any business, product or service. Copyright of the enclosed material in this publication is reserved.

INTERNATIONAL SUBSCRIPTION Use our secure payment portal on www.arttimes.co.za Pay in UK Pounds, US Dollars and Euro’s NAMIBIA Call John at: Tel: +264 81 1286585

Front cover: Ann Schweizer: Rothmania capensis. See it at The Kirstenbosch Biennale 08

September 2008

A photograph featuring a semi-naked couple has sparked a debate over how corporates should handle controversial art after Sasol distanced themselves from the work when it won the prestigious New Signatures award. The photograph, Familieportret 2 by Potchefstroom photographic artist Richardt Strydom, features a penis, a hint of panties and a bit of bosom. Declared the winner of the Sasol New Signatures competition at an event at the Pretoria Art Museum two weeks ago, it netted Strydom R60,000. But Sasol were not impressed with the rationale that the photograph depicted the “suffering middle classes” and announced they were distancing themselves from the work. The petrochemical giant did, however, confirm their support for the judging panel. Artist and curator Clive van den Berg, quoted in Business Day, was scathing. “This is an extraordinary decision. If Sasol wants to sponsor an art competition they

must accept that a function of art is to challenge and comment on society. If they want to support something tame, they should stick to rugby.” Further questions have been raised elsewhere, with Sasol being seen as promoting itself as a patron of the arts, but only of work that it likes. And how could Sasol, as one blog posting asked, adopt a conservative approach when it’s own brand was concerned with innovation? Strydom’s image is described by the judges of the competition as “a picture of loss and the loss of human dignity depicting the extreme misery, pathos and dehumanisation of poverty.” Francì Cronjé, Sasol New Signatures Competition Chairperson, explained: “The work depicts a controversial level of nudity. However, the judging panel felt the entry could be any South African family, or part of the global community of suffering middle-class.” However, Sasol issued a statement on its website, accepting the

Contacted for comment, Strydom, a graphic design lecturer at North West University, defended his work. “I don’t think Sasol distancing themselves from my work diminishes the work and I put my faith in the panel.” However, he said the controversy opened an “interesting debate” about the future of corporate-sponsored art competitions. While corporate money was needed to develop the arts, corporates were also concerned about their brand image, which could be at odds with artists. Commenting on the issue, Mike van Graan, a playwright and director of the Africa Centre, which organises the Spier Contemporary, points out that there is a tension between the interests of any funder and those of artists when it comes to freedom of expression. This would inevitably lead to conflicts with society, politicians, funders and the public. “It’s the recognition of these inherent tensions that will help to manage these better,” he said. In this sense, Van Graan said the funder was providing a space and in so doing gained mileage, rather than being associated with every form of freedom of expression in

that space. But Van Graan said that by bringing attention to one work, there was a move to censorship. The better way of handling the issue would be to inform stakeholders beforehand about providing a space for artistic expression rather than distancing or justifying works in retrospect.

lection, remembers a piece by artist Abrie Fourie on the Voortrekker monument that led to criticism both from those who thought it was glorifying apartheid and those who believed it was mocking Afrikaans culture. MTN hosted a debate on the company intranet inviting people to air their thoughts and then published the results in a company publication.

Van Graan notes that corporates never distance themselves from sport. “And goodness knows there are sufficient examples of embarrassing things in sport,” he said.

“It’s best to be able to predict controversy, but sometimes you can’t do that and then the best way is to acknowledge it and deal with it head on.”

In response to questions about only wanting to be associated with art it likes, Sasol Group Communications Manager Jacqui O’Sullivan said: “Art is in the eye of the beholder and while it is true that we believe in infinite boundaries, we also have to responsibly consider the sensitivities of our various shareholders.”

But Hobbs believes that people are far more tolerant than they were 10 years ago, when there were heightened political, religious and racial sensitivities.

O’Sullivan said the issue was not about Sasol “disliking or labeling the winning piece” but being sensitive to different audiences, “particularly our diverse internal audience”. She said Sasol would not censure or control the New Signatures judging process and were proud of their 19-year association with the competition. “We respect freedom of expression and, with that, Sasol’s freedom to express an opinion. We also respect the many differing public views on what is perceived to be acceptable.” Other corporates have faced similar challenges and dealt with them differently, however. Philippa Hobbs, curator of the MTN art col-

“When there is sensitivity then one has to be very prepared with a professional strategy that is acceptable to the corporate world and the art sector.”

Why pay vast amounts of money for quality contemporary Art News ? Go to www.arttimes.co.za to find this month’s complete SA Art Times for free


South African Art Times.

September 2008

Page 3

Funding crunch cancels Spier’s Durban leg

Last year’s Spier 07 brought together tens of thousands of South African art lovers and art learners in Johannesburg and Cape Town. By Patrick Burnett The shock cancellation of the Durban leg of the Spier Contemporary has been seen as a major blow for the KwaZulu-Natal arts scene, highlighting the tenuous nature of funding for the arts outside the centres of Cape Town and Johannesburg. With the Spier Contemporary, a biennial exhibition of contemporary South African art, having run in first Cape Town and then Johannesburg during 2008, the cancellation has left Durban out in the cold when it comes to harvesting the benefits of the exhibition. It was due to be showcased at the Durban Art Gallery from midAugust, but a statement from the Africa Centre, which organises the Spier Contemporary, announcing the reason for the cancellation as “sponsorship from a public sector donor not materialising”. Although diplomatically not naming the sponsor involved - and with all concerned unwilling to point fingers - in the aftermath of the cancellation the public sector donor has emerged as the eThekwini Municipality. The Durban Art Gallery has had to scurry around to fill the space that would have been taken up by the Spier Contemporary.

Aimed at promoting the visual arts in South Africa, the Africa Centre says the Spier Contemporary has attracted close to 20,000 visitors in Cape Town and Johannesburg, and has generated more than R3-million worth of media exposure, while at the same time providing a platform for the participating artists. But with a stated goal of the project being to address some of the imbalance in the visual art field that is “acute for artists who are not based in the major metropolitan areas of South Africa” the aborted KwaZuluNatal leg has disappointed many. “It’s unfortunate,” said Clive van den Berg, curator of the Spier Contemporary. “What is really apparent when looking at municipal art museums is that they are sorely underfunded and neglected and this is one of the symptoms of that problem.” Van den Berg also blamed “an administrative lack of capacity” for the sudden cancellation. He described the influence of the cancellation as “profound”, explaining how he received inquiries about participating artists on a weekly basis. It was “unfortunate” that these artists would miss out on the exposure.

“The range of work produced in South Africa is not going to be seen there and it could only be beneficial,” he said. Brenton Maart, curator at the KZNSA gallery, a leading contemporary gallery, said the exhibition offered in “one swoop” the ability to see what was being produced by leading artists, an opportunity which would now be missed. “The longer term effects are that because we are not able to see what is happening, less of an interest is generated in contemporary art. The less you see the less you want to see so it leads to a kind of apathy and a loss of enthusiasm.” Maart said the cancellation exacerbated the problem because funders would not see KwaZulu-Natal as an important venue, worsening the existing situation. Solving the problem would require a “significant” increase in funding for arts and culture in the province and the creation of a management system comprising artists, art administrators and business types to administer the increased funding. This would mean that steps could be taken well in advance of planned events if there were unforeseen circumstances. Mike van Graan, director of the Africa Centre, said: “We were keen to tour the Spier Contemporary to the major centres, but required sponsorship to do this. Hollard generously covered the costs of the Johannesburg leg of the Spier Contemporary and – from numerous exchanges with the eThekweni Municipality from 2007 already – we were under the impression that they had committed the R450,000 required to bring the exhibition to Durban.” However, van Graan said they had been informed of reduced funding for the event in June, leading to the decision to cancel the event. He said one of the lessons learnt was to finalise contracts and make

sure they were signed off well in advance so that arrangements could be made to fill any funding gaps. With planning underway for the next event due to run in 2009/2010, van Graan said he was in favour of Durban being included, as well as Johannesburg and possibly the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown. Another possibility was a venue such as Dakar in Senegal. “We have budgeted for this, but don’t have all the funding yet. That’s the basis for our fundraising and partnership efforts over the next few months,” he said. He said further details on the form the exhibition would take would only be available in November. Eric Apelgren, head of international relations and governance in the eThekweni Municipality, expressed disappointment that the event had not made it to Durban and said “every effort” would be made to ensure that the next version did not suffer the same fate. He said the municipality had made it clear “from day one” that that they would supply R250,000 towards the event, plus providing the gallery space and a further R100,000 for the opening event. He said motivating for more funding had been difficult because there was a lack of “emerging curators” involved and the municipality was left “wondering what would be left behind” after the event. Apelgren said his objective was to create opportunities for emerging artists and the Spier Contemporary had scored low in this area in the “short to medium term”. Asked whether an event like the Spier Contemporary was not beneficial for its inspirational value for young artists, he said: “I think that the reality is that in terms of budgeting cycles it is difficult to get R500,000 for one event.”

KUNSGALERY

JOHANS BORMAN FINE ART GALLERY

CAPE TOWN

Maggie Laubser, Heron - 1942

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: art@johansborman.co.za


Page 4

South African Art Times.

September 2008

Count fights government in court over family home why it should be maintained by government. “The court case is to return the property to my ownership,” he said. The museum was built by Labia’s father and he lived in the house during his teenage years in the 1930s. Although the Department of Public Works failed to respond to queries about the property, it appears that the disappearance of the James Stark painting is less of a sticking point. In a statement, Iziko Museums pointed out that the dispute between the Labia and the Department of Public Works did not involve Iziko, nor were they “party to nor was anyone at Iziko aware of the sale of the small adjacent piece of land by the Department of Public Works”. The beautiful stately home of Count Labia overlooking False Bay.

Photo: GP Clark -Brown

By Patrick Burnett A long-running dispute between an Italian count and the government over the ownership of a historic building in Muizenberg comes to a head in the Cape High Court on September 9, when the matter is set down for trial. At stake is the ownership of the now-closed Natale Labia Museum in Muizenberg, which was donated to the government in 1985 by Count Natale Labia. Labia is now demanding that the museum, a 20room Venetian manor built by his father and overlooking False Bay, be returned to him. At the heart of the case is ownership of the land and building, with Labia maintaining that since the building and its contents were

donated for use as an art museum, it’s closure was in breach of contract and the property should therefore be returned to him by the Department of Public Works. But other issues also form part of the case. These include: Compensation for the sale of an adjacent piece of land next to the Natale Labia Museum which was sold for R50,000 and later resold, together with other land, for R950,000. Labia is asking for compensation of R900,000. Compensation for the loss of an 18th Century painting by James Stark. How exactly the painting was lost is unclear, but it’s disappearance was discovered when the collection housed in the museum was returned to Labia

after the closure in 2004. Interviewed in late August, Labia said the museum and contents, which included valuable paintings, had been given to the government in 1985 on the understanding that it would be used as a museum, to be maintained by the then South African National Gallery. This was replaced by Iziko Museums. “It was soon apparent that they were not spending the funds required and in 2004 the museum was formally closed by a council decision of Iziko Museums and confirmed by the Department of Arts and Culture,” he said. He said because the government had “renaged on the agreement” that it should be used as a museum indefinitely, there was no reason

After the closure of the museum, Iziko said all moveable property had been “formally returned” to Labia, with the missing James Stark piece only coming to their attention later. Iziko said the last record of the work was when it had been moved from the South African Gallery back to the Natale Labia Museum in 1988, prior to the opening of this museum. “A lapse of nearly 20 years and many changes of staff have made any definitive conclusion as to what transpired nearly impossible.” But under the circumstances, Iziko said it had accepted responsibility and agreed to compensate the Count accordingly. However, a decision on fair compensation was being negotiated.

ERVAAR DIE RYKHEID VAN TOP SUID-AFRIKAANSE OU MEESTERS, SOWEL AS KONTEMORERE KUNS

STELLENBOSCH KUNSGALERY Ryneveldstraat 34 Stellenbosch Tel. 021 887 8343 Sel. 076 276 2175

Frans Claerhout

Pieter van der Westhuizen

Tye: Ma. -Vr. : 09h00 – 17h00 Sa. : 09h00 – 13h00 www.stellenboschartgallery.co.za E-pos: mjg@kingsley.co.za

Conrad Theys

Aviva Maree

Rob MacIntosch

John Kramer

Skilders : Kontemporêr: Scalz Esterhuyse, Hannes van Zyl, Clare Menck, Kaffie Pretorius, Robert Slingsby, Harvey Rothchild, John Kramer, Adriaan Boshoff, Terance McCaw, Boonzaier

Custom Stretched Canvasses Hand made Easels Painting & print stretching Free delivery within Cape area

Tel: 021 448 2799 Fax: 021 448 2797 artstuff@webmail.co.za www.artstuff.co.za

Artist: Ann Gadd

ArtStuff now available on the Garden Route Call Paul Tunmer 083 2610084


ART GUIDE SEPTEMBER 2008

Detail from Berni Searle’s - Seeking refuge series 6, Showing at Michael Stevenson Gallery, Cape Town 4 September - 11 October. See more at www.michaelstevenson.com


Page 6

South African Art Times.

September 2008

Neville Dubow 1933 - 2008 By Hayden Proud Professor Neville Dubow, who died on 24 August at the age of 74, was an authoritative and commanding presence in the visual arts fraternity of Cape Town for as long as most of us can recall. Although retired since 1998, he maintained a highly-active and constant profile as a writer, researcher, art consultant and lecturer. His tireless engagement with his chosen field makes his sudden death from a mysterious, debilitating illness seem a particularly tragic stroke of fate. The cultural and intellectual landscape of Cape Town (and South Africa at large) seems to have contracted markedly now that he has gone. At a time when South Africa is losing much-needed expertise, it is hard to imagine how the gap that he leaves can be filled. Possessed of an appearance that at times seemed uncannily similar to that of the critic, theorist and ‘pope’ of the Surrealist movement André Breton (1896-1966), Dubow cultivated a rakish style in his manner and dress. With his strong, dark hair slicked backwards and his coat thrown over each shoulder, or especially wearing his well-worn blue smock when teaching at the Michaelis School of Fine Art, he cut an unforgettable image. He was in every way an aristocratic and challenging ambassador of the artistic avant-garde and the principles that it stood for. It was as a strident and fearless young critic that Dubow first came to public and intellectual attention. Writing in the local Cape papers, his astute judgments and perceptions on South African art were admired, respected and even feared. Apparently the late Robert Kirby staged a comedy sketch entitled ‘The Art Critic’, featuring Dubow’s profile against a luminous red square with the accompanying words ‘better the devil you know than Neville Dubow’. Dubow’s earlier reviews and critical essays, now languishing in yellowed newspaper

files, deserve to be rescued and republished. They are still surprisingly fresh and set a standard that has not been surpassed. After joining the staff of the Michaelis School of Fine Art in 1962 where he taught courses in basic design, Dubow was elevated to the Chair of Fine Art at UCT in 1971. This was a prominent post in the South African art world that had been previously held by the likes of Maurice van Essche (his immediate predecessor), Rupert Shephard and Edward Roworth, all practicing painters and all born and trained abroad. It was against this fairly conservative and polite art school tradition, and in the earlier case of Roworth an ultra-conservative one, that Dubow, a young South African-born and trained professor aged only 37, sought to make his mark. And make it he did. With strategic impact over subsequent years he appointed staff who were to assist him in extending the boundaries of creative endeavour at the School beyond the traditional confines of drawing, printmaking, painting and sculpture. These included, among others, Kevin Atkinson, Dimitri Fanourakis, Richard Wake, Bruce Arnott, Bob Denton, Peggy Delport, Stanley Pinker, John Nowers and Helmut Starcke. Photography, ceramics, animation, performance art and what was then termed ‘interdisciplinary studies’ made of the Michaelis School of Fine Art the most advanced and experimental art school in South Africa in the 1970s and early 1980s. It was from this crucible that some stunning talents emerged and matured into professional artists and art historians. They include Marlene Dumas, Gary Schneider and Vivienne Koorland, who have made notable if not stellar careers abroad. The teaching of art history was also put on a more secure footing at the School from 1975 with the appointment of Evelyn

Cohen as the first full-time lecturer in the subject. In many senses, even considering the later, if unhappy, separation of art history from the Michaelis School, Dubow has to be given credit for laying the initial foundations for the later growth and standing of this disci pline at UCT. One of the School’s

that teaching could be a creative act in itself saw the launch of a new degree course for art educa tors, led by two of the most able and insightful lecturers, the late Stephen de Villiers and the late Patricia Pierce-Atkinson. Their unique legacy survived in several generations of the most

ultimately flowed from the person of Neville Dubow himself, and which he in turn had imbibed from Walter Battiss, whom he greatly admired. A born Capetonian, Dubow was nurtured and educated within the best traditions of Cape liberal

mater, where he received his B (Arch) degree in 1956, remained his intellectual home for his entire professional life. It was the framework of his architectural training and practice that underpinned his structured, conceptual and theoretical approach to teaching in the visual arts, and which considerably enhanced his clear gifts as an administrator. In committee he had a particular gift for finding simple solutions to the most complex problems. As such he was a vital and exceptionally wise member of a number of advisory boards, notably at the Iziko SA National Gallery. It was perhaps in Dubow’s persona that Vasari’s Renaissance ideal of a blissful unity between the major arts of architecture, painting and sculpture, all underpinned by the practice of disegno, or drawing, found a local incarnation. Born in 1933, the year of Hitler’s accession to power, Dubow grew up in the shadow of the racist abominations of the Third Reich. His awareness of the politics of power and the role of the artist in the pre and post-1945 world were highly informed within the finest senses of the Jewish intellectual tradition. His achievements and ideas, however, were attained without his ever wearing the great religious tradition to which he was heir, openly on his sleeve. A man of deep conscience and conviction, he argued and fought for artistic and political freedom in South Africa. It is through his notable students, as well as his publications and artistic achievements as a photographer, that his important legacy grows and continues.

graduates, the noted feminist art historian Tamar Garb, is today Durning Lawrence Professor in the History of Art at University College, London. Another area nurtured by Dubow at Michaelis was the study and practice of art education. The idea

able and talented teachers of art in the secondary school system, such as Jill Joubert and Henry Symonds. Underpinning both the fine art and art education streams at the School was the idea of making art as a very serious form ‘play’, a concept and spirit of which

skepticism at Wynberg Boys’ High School and at UCT where he studied architecture. His first formal introduction to the visual arts was via his mentor Florence Zerffi (1882-1962) who gave private art classes until her departure for England in 1956. UCT, his alma

Neville Eric Dubow, architect, artist, photographer, critic, theorist and administrator; born Cape Town, 16 September 1933; died Cape Town, 24 August 2008.

Cleaner partially burns R 500 000.00 Pierneef painting for firewood By Patrick Burnett A painting by world famous South African master Jacobus Hendrik Pierneef was removed from the offices of Free State’s Dihlabeng municipality in July and the frame burnt for firewood, according to the Democratic Alliance (DA). The painting, which has an estimated value of between R500,000 and R700,000, was apparently

removed by a cleaner, but was returned days later when an outcry was raised over the disappearance. Pierneef, born in 1886, is considered to be one of the top South African masters for his distinctive landscape paintings, many of which were of the South African highveld. Dr. Clem Harrington, chairperson

of the DA caucus in the Dihlabeng municipality, said the Pierneef, apparently bought by the then Bethlehem municipality prior to 1994, had disappeared on the last Wednesday in July, but then been returned by the Friday, with the frame damaged. Although municipal officials had refused to show him the painting – a typical landscape painting with a Kokerboom tree – he said he had

been told that the frame was “off” and had been burnt for firewood. He said no action had been taken against the cleaner, according to information provided to him by municipal manager Sandile Msibi. “I want to see the painting and want to see it [the disappearance] investigated and [the painting] re-framed,” he said. He called for the painting to be

sold, pointing out that while the municipality had a painting worth hundreds of thousands of Rands in its possession, there were people living in shacks without water.

do not manage the affairs of the municipality through the media. Internal processes and procedures are available to deal with challenges of the municipality.”

Attempts to get comment from the municipality were unsuccessful, with Msibi refusing to comment on the matter when contacted on his cellphone. Msibi asked for an email to be sent to him, but then responded with the following: “We

Roy Jankielsohn, leader of the DA in the Free State, said: “We are concerned that we have not had access to the painting to verify it is the original.”


South African Art Times.

September 2008

Page 7

Wealthy investors keep art sales high

Johans Borman strikes a winning mix By Patrick Burnett It seems contradictory to talk about passion as the driving force behind buying a work of art while at the same time being strictly rational about the business side of selling art, but it’s a paradox that top art dealer Johans Borman straddles with ease. Borman’s gallery – the Johans Borman Fine Art Gallery in Cape Town’s trendy Upper Buitengracht Street - boasts the likes of Irma Stern and Gerard Sekoto on the walls. But Borman is considered unique in that he is one of the few dealers in South Africa that has struck a successful balance between South African masters and contemporary artists. “You can’t really develop guidelines,” he says, when asked about the balance, “it’s more a sense of being able to establish or to judge what is good and what is bad.” That means having a thorough understanding of work in terms of the period, subject matter, style, market and the balance between the artistic merits and the desirability of any given work. “At the end of the day,” he says, “it is still a commercial enterprise

which means you have to be able to find the most desirable to ensure that you are still able to get a sale.” Reputation is everything. “To a very large extent its also about personal preferences,” he says, “I would find it very difficult to hang a painting in my gallery that I don’t like to a degree or think is of a good enough standard or quality.” The combination of passion and business sense has taken him from a gallery in Pretoria in the late 1980s to his current gallery in Cape Town. Earlier this year he partnered Michael Stevenson and Michael Graham-Stewart at the Joburg Art Fair. Borman shies away from art being promoted as a financial investment; for him it is simply created by artists to communicate and not as a financial instrument. “I don’t encourage people to buy art because of the potential value; you buy art because you want to live with it, because you like it, because it offers you emotional stimulation.” But the pricing of art, especially when it comes to the masters, means that it has to be considered

as an asset. And if it is viewed as an asset class then that implies a comparison with other asset classes. Although art cannot escape downward economic trends, Borman says there is a “huge difference” compared to other asset classes because the market is more stable. The reasons are that there is passion involved and because art is sold for cash; in most cases there is no debt. The market is also small and at any one time there will only be one or two top works for sale. In other words, there are not many people, especially in South Africa, prepared to swipe more than six noughts on their plastic. Borman is hesitant to single out artists for special mention, but he believes that when looking at the masters, one should look for those who interpreted Africa. “So many of our earlier recognised artists were simply applying European styles to African subject matter,” he says, “I would like to see the artist who interpreted Africa and did something unique.” He counts Pierneef in that category, believes Irma Stern cannot be left out of the equation and reserves special mention for

Gerard Sekoto, George Pemba and Ephraim Ngatane. The black artists in particular are unique, he argues, for how they applied modernism as a European concept. “From an art historical perspective they were some of the first social realists internationally - and there Pemba and Sekoto were special.” For younger artists who haven’t yet reached these heights, Borman says unfortunately in most cases it’s not a rational progression. Great artists are almost born with a special talent, he says. But key factors are perseverance, recognising that every artist is a brand and being careful with who you allow to handle your work. It’s clear that Borman has an understanding for both sides of his business, both the artists that produce the work and those who collect them. “I’ve got a very clear idea of what the creative process involves and it very often takes blood, sweat and tears, therefore that means that I have a very great respect for it,” he says, “I also have a great respect for people that appreciate and collect art.”

Gerard Sekoto (1913-1993). Portrait of a lady. Pre sale estimate by Bohams Auction hose at : £3,000 - 5,000, R47,000 - 78,000 Global economic gloom might be hanging over world markets, but 2008 also saw a rise in the super wealthy, with Forbes Magazine pegging the number of billionaires at 1,125, the first time the number breached the four figure mark. With the hoi-polloi battling overextended debt levels, high interest rates and inflation, an increase in the number of billionaires suggests a class of high fliers immune to the economic downturn who are constantly in search of ways to spend their bling. “The amount of new wealth that is available is phenomenal, with studies showing that the amount of billionaires is increasing,” said Mark Kretschmer, Chairman of Stephan Welz & Co in association with Sotheby’s. With prices for some art going through the roof - witness the May sale of a Tretchikoff fetching R3.74-million - Kretschmer stressed that supply and demand was always a crucial factor. “The majority of works are in museums or private collections and when one does become available then huge prices are bid.” Stephen Welz’s upcoming Cape Town auction in November is being billed as “this year’s most prestigious auction of fine art” and will feature a 1941 Irma Stern expected to fetch between R5

- R7 million. Kretschmer said although economic factors had not seemed to have an impact on art sales, there were possibly signs of a rationalisation, but not a cooling off. “Art has proven to be an asset class of its own,” he said, “It has survived the dot.com crash and the sub-prime crisis, where other asset classes haven’t. I’m talking globally but in doing so I don’t believe South Africa is any different.” Broadly speaking Kretschmer believes the emerging economies of Brazil, Russia, India and China, collectively known as the BRIC countries, are an important factor in driving art sales, with the Russians spending huge amounts of money. “When you have bought your houses and yachts then you need something to decorate it,” said Kretschmer, referring to phenomenal art sales by Christie’s International and Sotheby’s in 2007 on the back of a booming Russian economy. Forbes lists Russia as the country in second place behind the US in terms of the number of billionaires, with 87, while India has four of the top 10 richest billionaires. “Let’s wait and see,” he said when asked if art was recession resistant, referring to “some rationalisation” in the middle section of the market due to economic factors.


SOUTH AFRICAN ART GALLERY SHOW LISTINGS FOR SEPTEMBER Eastern Cape East London Anne Bryant Art Gallery Until 07 September - Santam’s child art traveling exhibition 9 St Marks Road, Southernwood, East London T. 043 722 4044

Free State Bloemfontein Oliewenhuis Art Museum 17-22 September - Central University of Technology Prestige Student Exhibition 2008 18 September - 28 October - Johann Louw - Mid-career Retrospective 16 Harry Smith Street, Bloemfontein T. 051 447 9609

Gauteng Johannesburg 47 market street artspace 11 Sept – Opening exhibition – 18h00 for 18h30 47 Market Street, T. 083 260 5747 or 083 235 0066 Alliance Francaise of Jhb Until 03 September - ‘Art Fusion’ - An exhibition presented by the amateur artists of the Dowerglen Art studio 17 Lower Park Drive, Corner Kerry Road Parkview T. 011 646 1169 www.alliance.org.za Art Extra Gallery Until 20 September - Athi-Patra Ruga - ‘Of bugchasers and watussi faghags’ 373 Jan Smuts Avenue, Johannesburg T. 011 326 0034 www.artextra.co.za Artspace Gallery Until 18 October - ‘The Royal Invisible’ 142 Jan Smuts Avenue, Parkwood T. 011 482 1258 www.artspace-jhb.co.za David Krut Print Workshop 10 September – 11 October - ‘Drawing Show’ - An exhibition

featuring exclusive new artworks by 12 of South Africa’s leading graphic designers and illustrators. 142 Jan Smuts Avenue, Parkwood, Johannesburg T. 011 447 0627 www.davidkrutpublishing.com Everard Read Gallery 04-21 September - John Caple - ‘To the Quiet Moon’ 25 September - 12 October - Lucian Freud - ‘Etchings 1946-2004’ 6 Jellicoe Avenue, Rosebank, Johannesburg T. 011 788 4805 www.everard.co.za Gallery Momo 04-29 September - Sharlene Khan - ‘What I look like, What I feel like’ 52 7th Avenue, Parktown North, Johannesburg T. 011 327 3247 www.gallerymomo.com Goodman Gallery Until 13 September - Kagiso Pat Mautloa - ‘Other Presences’ 13 September – 04 October - Tom Mulcaire 163 Jan Smuts Avenue, Parkwood, Johannesburg www.goodman-gallery.com Gordart Gallery 72 Third Avenue Mellville, Johannesburg T. 011 726 8519 www.gordartgallery.com Graham’s Fine Art Gallery 04 September - 02 October - Paul Du Toit - ‘Some Strange Alphabet’ Corner Cedar & Valley Roads, Broadacres, Fourways T. 011 465 9192 www.grahamsfineartgallery.co.za Johannesburg Art Gallery Until 30 September - Kay Hassan - ‘Urbanation’ King George Street, Joubert Park, Johannesburg T. 011 725 3180 Rabbi Cyril Harris Community Centre 14 September - Mark Forman ‘A Bygone Era’ - Judaica Art Corner Glenhove Road & 4th Street Houghton T. 011 728 8088 / 8378 The Steward Gallery Until 13 September - An exhibition of works by Roger De Andrade, Jeanne Hendriks, Kevin Factor, Sharle Matthews, Rob Mills and

others 69 Eleventh Street, Parkhurst T. 011 327 1384 www.stewardgallery.co.za

- ‘Modern Icons’ Block e Bellevue campus Bellevue Road Kloof T. 031 717 2785 www.fattuesday.co.za

The Thompson Gallery 14 September - 16 October - ‘Defining Moments’ by Billy and Jane Makhubele, Jurgen Schadeberg, Susan Woolf, Johannes Maswangani, Beverly Price and Roy Ndinisa. 78 Third Avenue, Melville T. 011 482 9719 www.thompsongallery.co.za

Kizo Art Gallery 06-28 October - Lambert Moraloki, Brigitte Hertell and Tracy Payne Shop G350 Palm Boulevard Gateway Theatre of Shopping Umhlanga T. 031 566 4322 www.kizo.co.za

Pretoria Magpie Gallery 06-25 September - ‘Dabbling in Digital Dichotomies’ featuring digital works by Edna Gee,Francois Jonker, Janet Botes, Givan Lotz, Anneli Botha, Daandrey Steyn, Shanti Coetzer, Rupert de Beer, Martin Osner, Stefani Smit, Sara Noche Shop 21B, Southdowns Shopping Centre, Centurion T. 012 665 1832 www.magpie.co.za PLAT FORM on 18th 04-27 September - ‘Interface’ - An exhibition of new works by Heleen Schröder and Nicolene Louw 232 18th Street, Rietondale, Pretoria

Kwazulu Natal Durban artSPACE Durban Until 13 September - Fibreworks V - ‘Mark in (g) Time’ and Michele Silk - ‘Form-less’ 3 Millar Road, Durban T. 031 312 0793 www.artspacedurban.co.za DUT Art Gallery 05 September - 08 October - Sabelo Khumalo, Nothando Mkhize and Nozipho Zulu - ‘Cotemporary Existence & the Moveable Arts Feast’ 1st Floor Library building, Steve Biko Campus, Durban University of Technology T. 031 373 2207 Fat Tuesday Gallery 07-18 October - Helena Vogelzang

KZNSA Gallery Until 14 September - Maxnormal TV - Goodmorning South Africa 166 Bulwer Road, Glenwood T. 031 2023686 www.kznsagallery.co.za Zombeza Art Gallery Every 1st Saturday - ‘Art al Fresco’ - Local artists including Warwick Locke, Wendy Beresford, Louise Ghersie, Vicky Cressy, Burgen Thorne, Mike Norris and Peter Feek. KZN Aladdin’s Corner, Nottingham Road T. 033 2666460

Western Cape Cape Town 34 Long Fine Art Until 06 September - ‘Face 08’ - Group exhibition 09 September - 04 October - ‘Urban/Pop’ 34 Long Street, Cape Town T. 021 426 4594 www.34long.com Bell-Roberts Gallery Until 19 September - ‘Print 08’ 176 Sir Lowry Road, Woodstock www.bell-roberts.com Blank Projects 04-26 September - Bianca Baldi - ‘Him and Her (2008)’ and Niklas Witteberg 01 -24 October - Katherine Bull - ‘data capture - a muse’ 198 Buitengracht Street, Bo-Kaap, Cape Town www.blankprojects.blogspot.com The Cape Gallery Until 13 September - ‘Impact’ - A wildlife exhibition 14 September - 04 October - Adolfo Mcque - ‘Viewpoint’

60 Church Street, Cape Town T. 021 423 5309 www.capegallery.co.za Curious Whetstone & Frankley 03-16 September - ‘Spring Tee Party’ 87a Station Road, Observatory T. 021 448 8780 Erdmann Contemporary Until 27 September - ‘New Comic Art’ - Group exhibition by Karlien de Villiers, Norman O’Flynn, Daniel Popper, Mxolisi Sapeta, Jacqui Stecher and Leonora van Staden. 63 Shortmarket Street, Cape Town T. 021 422 2762 www.erdmanncontemporary.co.za Goodman Gallery - Cape Until 06 September - ‘Monomania’ 10 September 2008 - 05 January 2009 - Josephine Meckseper and Mikhael Subotzky - ‘New Photography 2008’ 3rd Floor, Fairweather House 176 Sir Lowry Road Woodstock, Cape Town T. 021 462 7573/4 www.goodmangallerycape.com Iziko SA National Gallery Until 16 November - Albert Adams - ‘Journey on a Tightrope’ Government Avenue, Company’s Garden T. 021 467 4660 www.iziko.org.za João Ferreira Gallery 03-27 September - Araminta de Clermont - ‘Life After’ 08 October - 01 November - Michael Pettit’s - ‘figurative and abstract painting’ - a double exhibition 70 Loop Street, Cape Town T. 021 423 5403 www.joaoferreiragallery.com Michael Stevenson Gallery 04 September -11 October - Berni Searle and Youssef Nabil Ground Floor, Buchanan Building, 160 Sir Lowry Road, Cape Town T. 021 462 1500 www.michaelstevenson.com Urban Contemporary Art Until 13 September - Anthony Mlungisi and Robin Jones - ‘Feelings and Fantasies’ 46 Lower Main Road, Observatory, Cape Town T. 021 447 4132 www.urbancontemporaryart.co.za

Whatiftheworld Gallery 04-27 September - Georgina Gratrix – ‘Master Copy’ First floor, 208 Albert Road Woodstock T. 021 448 1438 www.whatiftheworld.com

Franschoek The Gallery at Grande Provence Until 10 September - Exhibition by three well known South African artists - Paintings by Philip Badenhorst and Rina Stutzer and ceramics by Helen Vaughan Main Road Franschoek T. 021 876 8600 www.grandeprovence.co.za

Stellenbosch Die Dorpstraat Gallery Until 30 September - ‘Antidote’ - Paintings by Theo Kleynhans and sculpture by Ruhan Janse van Vuuren 144 Dorp Street, Stellenbosch T. 021 887 2256 www.dorpstraatgalerie.co.za 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

Knysna The Dale Elliott Art Gallery Oyster Festival exhibition on Knysna and her surrounding areas Woodmill Lane Shopping Centre, Knysna, 6570 Tel: 044 3825 646 www.daleelliott.co.za

Villiersdorp The Elliott’s Art Gallery Exciting Winter exhibition of latest works by Dale and Mel Elliott. 80 Main Rd, Villiersdorp, 6848 Tel: 028 840 2927 www.daleelliott.co.za

Winners of the SA Art Times Winter Thriller readers survey Congratulations to our prize winners

Roderick Freemantle & Peter Midlane

We would like to thank our sponsors for making this competition possible

Your prizes are on their way to you, Well done!!

They are:

This is what Patrick had to tell us about Art Times:

First Prize of six cases of wine and a Leo Chocolate hamper is

whose entry to our Readers’ Survey provided our publishers and judges with much to think about, was fair, critical and well considered. His entry has given us encouragement to continue the fight for artists and art lovers rights and education in our pages and to provide everyone with a better newspaper, more to readers’ liking.

1. What content do you enjoy in the Art Times. ? I enjoy the typical contents of your paper - news of artists and exhibitions, gallery shows and crits, and not least - the ads of the artists/galleries round the country, showing samples of their work/stock. I also like the warnings of scams, dubious dealers etc and feel they are a good warning to those in the trade to be fair or be exposed. (How is your libel insurance cover ?).

The runner up prizes of two cases of wine each are:

2. What other content would you like to see in the Art Times ? Would be good to see a few more

Patrick Chapman

articles on the long established galleries, like Reeva Cohen in the Atlantic Gallery in Wale St. These are part of history and we shoud read about them before they depart. Not all can be honoured with shows like Joe Wolpe .Also please continue reviews of public galleries round the country - reminds one to visit when one in in that part of the world. I’d also like regular pieces on auction prices of art. 3. Do you approve of the general writing style ? Fine, but one question - who edits the editor’s editorial ? When he writes one, which I notice he doesn’t always do, they sometimes look a little (ahem) hasty. 4. Would you buy The Art Times if it sold for R10 - R15 ? Yes, but please don’t put a price on it. There must be many struggling artists who pick up a copy because its free and who simply would’nt if it had a cover price. Regard it as a

contribution to spreading the word among the lesser privileged. 5. Would you object if the Art Times was printed on newsprint in order to carry more pages ? NO PLEASE keep quality paper. Just compare back issues to see how the issues during the period of newsprint have dulled and look tatty. Your current paper quality is super and makes the editions WORTH KEEPING. 6. What is your profession ? Retired private banker - now art columnist on Hermanus Times. 7. Which other local and international publications, websites, do you follow ? Weekend edition of the UK Financial Times - good arts coverage as well as general and business news, interesting colour supplements and at R18 excellent value. Also the auction houses’ catalogues and promo mailings, and Art Quarterly (journal

of the UK Art Fund, is good). 8. Would you like to receive art news alerts - if so in what form ? Yes, a weekly e mail would be excellent.

sculptors, but actos, film makers and musicians. We’re not inclined to be derivative quite as much as we used to and have proved that we can set trends, rather than just follow what Europe and America dictates.

9. Have you thoughts and ideas regarding the South African Art Media ? Don’t see any on TV. Radio is not a visual medium but can be a useful guide. Don’t want to pay R100 -+ for other glossy SA art journals. Viva SA Art Times !

“Ek geniet die fotos so baie aangesien ek op ‘n afgelee plaas in N Kaap ble en het geen Internet nie “

Samples of some random comments from readers that our judges particularly valued and enjoyed:

Some ‘shock’ artists get media coverage for their bad, pathetic art only because they want to shock the viewer !”

“This is a good publication - it caters for a very wide range of interested parties: dealers, artists, buyers etc and does not exclude the “Sunday Painter”. “This is a good time for SA artists internationally - not just painters and

“As long as Art Times is published regularly, there is less need for art news alerts as information ovverload is a challenge”

“More coverage needed from other provinces than Cape Town.” “Would like to see more images and more personalised interviews and some art crits too”.


AROUND THE GALLERIES

Nelson Mandela and Graca Machel share a moment of happiness at the Mandela@90 art show curated by Natalie Knight at the Constitutional Court ealier this year

(Full detail) Still of Berni Searle’s - Seeking refuge series 6, Showing at Michael Stevenson Gallery, Cape Town 4 September - 11 October. See more at www.michaelstevenson.com

A work from Sharlene Khan’s exhibition entitled: What I look like, what I feel at Gallery Momo. See more mages at www.gallerymomo.com

Invite image from Artist in residence by Sita Moyo, Ndikhumbule Ngqinambi and Hans Wilschut (Netherlands) for the Bag Factory Artist in Residence Show Johannesburg 10 - 17 September. see more detail at www.bagfactoryart.org.za

Pastel by Hanneke Benade to be shown at The Everade Read Gallery - Cape Town from 18 September 2008. (Image courteously supplied by Everard Read Gallery, Cape Town)

A bronze statue of Nelson Mandela was unveiled outside the Drakenstein Prison by Jean Doyle. The 490kg, 3,2 meter the statue depicts the former president as he left the prison. The project took four months to complete.

Challenging Mud (After Kashua Shiraga) by Johan Thom. Honey, Gold leaf and mud - a private performance in which he was to be buried alive by his wife and a close group of friends. See Jozi and the (M)other City at www.jamc.co.za

Storm clouds over the Karoo by Erik Laubser. See October’s SA Art Times for details


Page 10

South African Art Times.

September 2008

Talk of the Town

ART PIG Alex Dodd Egalité! Liberté! Sexualité! Arriving in Paris this summer, I checked into the Hotel Beauvoir, dumped my bags and took a long walk through the streets of the Latin Quarter, where, 40 years

ago, the students of Paris took to the streets in a social and cultural uprising that went down as one of the greatest upheavals in French society since the Revolution. Half way down Boulevard Saint Michel I came upon a square onto which spilled forty café tables abuzz with students drinking pitchers of table wine in the summer sunshine. In the middle of the square was an installation of large black and white photographs of barricades, overturned cars, students and helmeted police facing off on the very same boulevard 40 years ago. Egalité! Liberté! Sexualité! These are the words resounding in my head two months later as I stroll through Joburg’s Art on Paper gallery taking in the current show of works by South African legend Walter Battiss, simply called Prints. The most exhilarating and unexpected aspect of the show is a series of silkscreen prints made by Battiss in 1969 and 1970, when he visited Hamburg and London. Although these images hum with the same sexual charge that informs the more playful, brightly-hued graphic creations we more readily associate with Battiss, they are completely stylistically different, attesting to the extraordinary diversity of his oeuvre and wondrous capability to constantly reinvent himself. These remodelled black and white photographic cutups evoke the magazine and cinematic worlds of the late Sixties European underground – the Prague Spring and Paris 1968, when students fought for the right to wear long hair and purple trousers. In Untitled (artist’s silhouette), the figure of the artist is transposed

as a slab of monochromatic white absence onto a black and white image of a beautiful young art school Apollo leaning against a wooden door with his hands in his pockets. A pop art speech bubble suspended above the young man’s head is a similar void of whiteness. It is a wonderfully sexual work, in which the viewer takes up the space of the artist as voyeur, looking upon the beauty of this dreamy young man like the lustfully pained Gustav von Aschenbach in Thomas Mann’s Death in Venice. Like other works in this series, which feature the honed bodies of naked young men and long-haired androgynous hippies hanging out on the underground scene in Hamburg, this silkscreen is unapologetically homoerotic. ‘These prints were very radical at the time they were produced,’ says gallerist, Alet Vorster, ‘which is possibly why they weren’t included on exhibitions at the time.’

Now, 40 years down the line, there is something so timeless and alluring about these renegade Battiss prints. They are imbued with all the blurred sexuality and idealism of Bernardo Bertolucci’s The Dreamers, in which the tumultuous political landscape of Paris ’68 serves as the backdrop for a tale about three young cineastes who are drawn together through their passion for film. And as with Bertolucci’s movie there is something of a bittersweet paradox in these images – their immersion in a vital and heady youth culture that is now long gone and defunct. Yet the spirit of the times remains the utopian honey of the bleak contemporary moment. I am reminded again of Paris and of the number of black skinny jeans-clad, scruffy-haired loners I saw wandering about the Boulevard Saint Germain, each with a different take on Cate Blanchett’s incarnation of Bob Dylan in Todd Hayne’s recent cult biopic, I’m Not There. Why this pop cultural need to inhabit Dylan’s dreamy poetic persona now? Why this harking back to Flower Power and San Francisco circa 1967? It seems to me that in this much more cynical and broken age, some defiant dreamers are daring to look back over their shoulders at a time when that utopian impulse was a headline-fuelling raison d’etre. There is something strangely hopeful and regenerative in looking back at these images of a lost time when young idealists across the globe staked their destinies on the dream that life could really be different and whole lot better.

THE ART COWBOY Peter Machen

There was something just vaguely apocalyptic going on at ArtSpace Durban this August in the group show Formation. Featuring four of Durban’s most talented painting talents – Grace Kotze, Dee Donaldson, Anet Norval and Janet Solomon – and curated by Kotze, the show attempted to give the viewer an insight into the physical and psychological process of producing works using text, photographs and sketches. On one level – that of technical virtuosity where the art viewer looks carefully at the brush strokes and declares the actual level of competence of the painter, like a scientist analysing a blood sample – the show succeeds admirably. But it does so, in fact, because that level was invisible, as virtuosity always should be. You become transfixed by the song not the singer, by the painting not the paint. And indeed I was transfixed by the fusion of narratives and emotion on display, so much so that the medium itself became irrelevant. The work on show in Formation were paintings, but they might just as eaily have been cinema or video art or installations or memories or dreams. And even when I started doing the blood analysis thing – with Janet Solomon’s staggeringly detailed Susanna – its ominousness and otherworldly depiction of an incredibly natural landscape kept on pulling me back out to the big picture. I have to say, though, that I wasn’t that engaged by the documentations of how the work was formed. That may simply be the philistine in me talking, or it may be that the works were all so strong, said so much, that I didn’t want to see the invisible strings that held everything together. It might also be the case that the documentation would – strangely enough – have been more gripping without the presence of the final artwork. With its fusion of brooding 21st century urban landscapes, naked human bodies and verdant nature, it’s tempting to suggest from the collective work, including Jacki Bruniquel’s work in the rest of the gallery in which she chronicles

the destruction of the natural landscape in Umdlhoti, that man is the apocalypse and woman the edenic state. But I’m not actually going to say that, except to ramble on about the fact that sometimes things can be both true and untrue, and that sometimes it’s okay to leave an unmediated thought hanging in the air. But the tensions that exist between the urban virus and the planet’s natural state – which is, even with all the crime and violence and recession, our most contemporary concern – were beautifully and hauntingly expressed at ArtSpace – without any need – or desire – to be even remotely didactic. Sometimes it also okay to leave extremely mediated thoughts hanging in the air. Greg Streak’s

cloud from his gorgeously minimal but deeply felt Accumulative Disintegration exhibition at Bank Gallery was one of the most powerful art objects I’ve encountered this year. An inverted arc, much like the blade of a herb-cutter, hung from the ceiling, it bottom surface covered entirely in razor blades. The work power exists on many layers and dimensions, but its strongest feature was a kind of inverted vertigo, the feeling of being gravitationally attracted to the blades. It would be easy to complain about the brutality of the piece, to write it off as yet another exercise in masculine cruelty. But to do so would be to ignore the fact that we live in a reality, that while full of joy, is also extremely brutalised. And Streak is clearly also hurting, as evidenced by the moving work called Envelopes For Tears, composed of hundreds of little envelopes made from electrical tape. The rest of the work also impressed, but what lingers most in mind was how the exhibition melded itself to the gallery space and the space to the work. It was as if the gallery itself has acquired a living breathing skin, and was experiencing the pain of the world. As for the joy of the world, there were hints of it but they were outside the room shining in. Inside only beauty illuminated. And beauty is not joy, despite the special relationship they share. Finally, check out the astounding group show Production Marks which is currently on exhibition at the Goethe Institut in Pretoria, having just shown at the KZNSA Gallery. Curated by the gallery’s Brenton Maart, the work which explores the relationships between art, geometry and architecture, opened to much acclaim in Grahamstown earlier this year. Don’t miss out on this startling and uxexpected mix of national talent. And even if you’ve already seen the show, Maart’s curatorial talents will no doubt ensure that in a new space, the exhibition will be born anew.

Alex Emsley

What’s happening in Johannesburg, Durban and Cape Town

THE ARTFUL VIEWER Melvyn Minnaar More than Beautiful Botanicals Maybe the person, making the sideways comment, wasn’t all too comfortable either at being seen at an exhibition of pretty flower pictures. But he had to say his say, implying some deeper questions: “What on earth is he doing here? Isn’t he an art critic who holds forth on Clement Greenberg’s modernism, or quotes Arthur C. Danto whenever a postmodernist argument gets tough?” The perplexed speaker clearly belonged to the snobby class who takes its art categories very seriously, and finds it imperative to draw the lines between what is allowed and what not when one talks about art. It was the hackneyed argument of ‘high’ and ‘low’ art all over again: the same thing that rubbed up the snooty art crowd the wrong way when beads and blankets appeared in the SA National Gallery as our democracy was dawning. Of course, the puzzled person at the exhibition of flora was there for the same reason as the famous art critic: to look and enjoy, to engage and appreciate a very specific mimetic art medium. The occasion was another of the increasingly-popular biennial Kirstenbosch exhibitions of floral imagery. In shorthand referred to as ‘botanical art’, the pictures of flowers and plants on display represent not only a unique category of illustration that has a long ( and, yes, romantic) history, but it stands within an established tradition that more than anything connects science with art. In short, it has everything to do with accuracy of documentation, preservation of information and recording of historic and empirical facts of a natural phenomenon. This is the reason why these are images in which remarkable attention is given to detail: the true showcase of the artist’s illustrative skills. For this, rewards are announced and medals handed out. If some of those pale, anti-bourgeois souls are rankled by this act of acknowledgement, so be it. The appeal of finely-executed drawing is universal -and this could well be the draw card for those of us who flock. But, as we have learnt from the postmodern prophets, what the eye sees is not necessarily the ‘truth’. Here’s a very interesting situation: if ‘botanical art’ was simply documenting a good-looking flower or even a not-good-looking plant, why not simply take a high-definition photograph and stick it in the herbarium’s records?

What is fascinating about this particular art - the one that engages with flora exclusively - is that it often seems to record more than simply the immediate visual truth. Anyone who scrutinised the great botanical illustrations by artists like James Osgood Andrew, Franz and Ferdinand Bauer, Elizabeth Blackwell, and even our own legendary Harry Bolus and Cynthia Letty may have experienced a feeling that they witness more than superficial images. When good, it is as if the artist relays and puts across a sense of place and circumstances in the image. The classic botanical illustration was typically executed as a watercolour painting, which is, as we all know, a demanding medium. Tradition called for ‘life-like’ depiction, usually done to life-size or indicated scale. The flower is presented front and back, open and in bud , seed, and possibly with root system. In the modern invention of the botanical illustration, we often seem a ‘style’ of presentation that used to be called ‘photorealism’. (That was when art critics felt everything had better be categorised!) A form of painting (or other illustration) that sets itself purposefully up as antithesis of the ‘reality’ that can (theoretically) be documented clinically with a camera, the best photorealism imagery has a manner of unsettling the viewer, triggering dynamic engagement. Something similar happens in the best of contemporary botanical illustration. This month sees the fifth Kirstenbosch Biennale (from September 10 to 24), and the invited guest curator for 2008, Karen Stewart, is well suited to talk about the above. For her masters degree from Stellenbosch University, she curated a show entitled Curiositii, which commented on botanical practices of annotation and display derived from the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. A key factor, she says, in her curatorial practice is to make artwork accessible to people from all walks of life. Stewart’s involvement is another step in the increasing stature of the Kirstenbosch Biennale. Inaugurated in 2000 by Merle Huntley, the show, standards and scope of artists both from South Africa and beyond have steadily grown over the years. Some 50 artists participate in the biennale Amongst the art this year are paintings by Simthembile Kewuti, a young botanical artist from Paarl who was tragically murdered in April this year. It had been his dream to exhibit his work on the biennale. Organised by the South African National Biodiversity Institute, whose brief it is to make South Africans more aware of our natural heritage, and sponsored by Old Mutual, the biennale - the only exhibition of its kind in South Africa - is an important local marker for botanical art. Don’t miss it. Even if your snooty arty pals object. * The Kirstenbosch 2008 Biennale is at the Old Mutual Conference Centre, Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden. Entry to the show is free, as are the walkabouts that will be conducted by well-known artists and critics. A series of lectures about various aspects of botanical art, and workshops by Gill Condy and Di Carmichael form part of the programme.


South African Art Times.

September 2008

Page 11

AROUND THE GALLERIES

Rossy sleeping, Madrid 2007 by Youssef Nabil 4 Sep - 11 Oct at The Michael Stevenson Galley, Cape Town

Tall blue vessel with spiral pattern by Peter Beard - one of the judges at The Corobrick Ceramics Exhibition

One of the inspiring images for Strydom van der Merwe’s new litho series to be seen at www. artistspress.co.za

Karlien de Villiers, Fetish, acrylic on paper, 2008 see more at www.erdmanncontemporary.co.za

Athi-Patra Ruga …of bugchasers and watussi faghags - a solo exhibition by Athi-Patra Ruga Until 20 September at www.artextra.co.za

Pamela Stretton - the ambivalence of eating. Digital print on foam.

Work by Lawrence Lemaoana at www.artextra.co.za

Viewer at the Nora Newton’s exhibition at Dorp Straat Galery. www.dorpstraatgalery.co.za

Rowan Smith’s Dot-Matrix Loop - 2007 Mixed media Dimensions variable. See whatiftheworld.com for more details

New work at newly opened Kunshuis in Cape Town. Show entitled Super women

The International Art Exhibition for Human Rights (Truth, Compassion and Tolerance) is finally in Cape Town, after traveling the world since 2006. It’s already been to every continent and over 50 major cities worldwide. The paintings will be on display at V&A Waterfront, Lampside Court, 9-22 September. See www.falunart.org for details

The Kiss by Robin Jones, at Urban Art, Observatory, Cape Town

Image from Charles Maggs exibition entitled Zombie at the AVA Gallery, Cape Town until 12 September. See www.ava.co.za


Page 12

South African Art Times.

September 2008

OBITUARIES

Wonderboy Nxumalo 33 Wonderboy Nxumalo, the renowned ceramicist from Ardmore Ceramic Art Studies in KwaZulu-Natal, died at his home in Greytown on Sunday, August 3, aged 33. Born in Greytown in 1975, Nxumalo’s artistic talent was recognized from an early age and he began an apprenticeship in 1994 with Fee Halstead-Berning, the founder of Ardmore Ceramic, which currently employs 80 Zulu women and men and is internationally known for its ceramic art. Halstead-Berning encouraged

Nxumalo to further develop his unique style instead of imitating other artists and his developing ceramic style became prized by international collectors. His work has been praised for its provocative poetry and surprising fusion of distinct elements. Nxumalo was seen as someone who discovered the potential of ceramics to connect with people and communicate his love of life through storytelling. Nxumalo travelled to Ardmore Ceramic exhibitions that prominently featured his work at Groote Schuur in Cape Town and Christies in

London and he attended the International Ceramic Festival in Wales as a guest artist. In remembering Nxumalo, Halstead-Berning said: “Wonderboy developed an art all his own. It was the art of giving. He watched

over aspiring talent with the same patience he showed when he was drawing and painting. He had an uncanny sensitivity; he always knew when other artists and myself needed a lift.” Nxumalo is survived by his mother

Glodia Kanyile, sister Londie Nxumalo and his wife-to-be Sibongele Sikhosana. Contributions to honour Nxumalo may be made to the Ardmore Excellence Fund, a Section 21 Company dedicated to training,

health and wellness of artists and their families at Ardmore Ceramic. Contact Angela Gill (033) 234 4869

Rory Palmer 25 known and appreciated by many artists for its unqualified support of emerging talent, regardless of whether or not it was a commercial prospect. The pair were evicted by the landlord after a few months and Rory then left South Africa to continue his art studies in Europe. He had studied art and design at school and Fine Art for two years at Rhodes University, where his father was professor of the Anthopology Deaprtment. His mother Anne Pope works at the Private Law faculty at UCT and said of Rory: “Rory saw the world differently and his gallery project forced the art world to reflect on its ways, even if this made things uncomfortable for them. Regarding his own work, he was severely self-critical, often unfairly - always seeking to be perfect but also to provoke” The first exhibition held at the gallery was for photographer Jan Verboom of Roodebloem Photographic Studio. Jan remembers:

Rory Palmer, a truly free and original young spirit in the Cape’s art world, left the scene suddenly and tragically on 13th August in

Copenhagen. He fell from a rooftop while watching a meteor shower with some friends. He was 25 years old.

He was based in London at the time of his death and was visiting Denmark. Rory himself made a meteor like

appearance on the Cape Town gallery scene with his startling and short-lived “Dirt Contemporary” gallery which he opend in Kloof

Street in 2006 with his girlfriend Elodie. Dirt Contemporary Gallery was

“Rory was much younger than me and I loved the ego-driven enthusiasm he put into launching the gallery, decorating the place and making it look really good. It had been a shop and he painted it all white and with the afternoon sun shining through the windows it made a great space for my show. I sold a few pics and he was very pleased with that ! It was important to him that I do well and I found that generous and touching”


South African Art Times.

September 2008

Page 13

Marina Aguiar “The Muse and Shaman” bronze sculptures, etchings and mixed media works Exhibition opens 9 September

Alliance Francaise of Johannesburg 17 Lower Park Drive, Corner Kerry Road, Parkview. T 011 646 1169

Hout Street Gallery David and Gail Zetler

270 Main Street, Paarl, 7646 Phone + 27 (0) 21 872 5030 Fax + 27 (0) 21 872 7133 E-mail: zetler@icon.co.za www.houtstreetgallery.co.za

Conrad Theys, Kappertjies 30 x 26 cm Pastel

Cape Town’s largest contemporary art gallery exhibiting works by leading South African artists

Carmel Art

Fiona Ewan Rowett

0832673013 rorowett@altonet.co.za

66 Vineyard Road, Claremont Ph: 021 671 6601 Email: carmel@global.co.za Website: www.carmelart.co.za

Exclusive distributors of

Pieter van der Westhuizen etchings full selection on website


Page 14

South African Art Times.

September 2008

Exploring the ABC’s of Sandton Central

By Taryn Cohn Sandton Central is labeled as the “Richest Square Mile of Africa”. It’s a district synonymous with Acquisition, Big business and rampant Consumerism In a recent visit to find out more about their winning of a BASA Award for one of their public art programms (the Illumination Project- the “Why Men” by artist Usha Seejarim), what I found was an ethos that sees a very different set of ABC’s at work- Art, Big Brother and Community.

Johannesburgers fall into two groups. Those who get it, and those who don’t. Everyone has a few of both in their social circle, to be counted on to rehash the debate at every dinner party. Those that don’t get it are the ones who can recite the entry requirements for Australia, Canada and good old London in such detail, and so often that you’d wish they had left already. Those who get it are the people who can see through the intermittent darkness onto the other side of the congested, and sometimes collapsing roads to where the city is heading. Fortunately it seems that the latter are beginning to tip the scales in their favour. Sandton Central is an area made up of three city improvement districts, that falls within the boundaries of Sandton Drive, Katherine Street into Rivonia Road and Grayston Drive. “In the research that preceded the set up of the Sandton Centrals Management District (SCMD) it was found that most people believed that Sandton is soulless” says Cara Reilly, Marketing Manager of the SCMD. “ It was likened

to a mine in reverse, where people arrive and ascend their office towers to work and are not seen for the rest of the day, until they surface again to go home.” As a place where some of the richest people in Africa eat, play, work and live, it was felt that the public spaces don’t mirror the private spaces. It was with a mandate to change all this that the SCMD was set up. According to the policy statement, the development of the Sandton Central Arts Programme Strategy was aimed at re-inventing Sandton Central. It is supposed to integrate with the area’s marketing strategy, urban development framework and property development plans for the area so that it has a lasting influence and actually affects the public environment. Good jargon, but what does it all mean. A Management District (often referred to as a City Improvement District, CID) is a defined geographical area within which property owners agree to pay for supplementary and complimentary services such as improved security, cleaning and maintenance of public spaces. The objective of a CID is to add value to the commercial investment of the property owners. Simply put, the property owners in an area need to protect their interests and ensure the value of their investments stay high by improving the area their properties or businesses occupy. In real terms, it means protecting the private spaces by managing the public ones. “Art was seen as a way to bring the soul back to the streets of Sandton Central” says Reilly. Art has been a fundamental element of the district’s planning since 2005. Launching as a mural painted along Maude Street, managed by the Trinity Session, depicting ac-

tivities of the stock exchange, the Sandton Central art experiment began small, and was apparently well received. How, I asked, can you tell that? “ In the four years since it was painted, this mural has not once been vandalized- no graffiti. The mural is still intact.”

Rather than a nice add on, art has since been intrinsic to the plans of the district, being incorporated in small and large ways into plans for public spaces, public amenities and facilities.

“And you should see the designs for this year- “Why men” hanging in trees and huge “Why Men” embracing buildings – hope we have the money to do this!”

and Investec to name a few, the BenchMark Comssion project is an urban furniture programme that redefines public spaces through the use of utilitarian art.

And the inevitable question, how can they illuminate Sandton Central in the current energy crisis?

Artists and designers have been commissioned to design the benches, which will be located around the public spaces of the district and are aimed at inviting people to actually sit down and enjoy the area.

“ We’re exploring solar power and battery options and tapping into private power sources. But we are also chatting to City Power about how the power draw would affect the area if we did tap into the national grid”. The restoration of the old fountain on the corner of Maude Street and Rivonia Road as a public space complete with benches and mosaic spaces was another success story. Another project managed by the Trinity Sesstion, within the space of a few months the space was transformed.

“It’s about reinstating public spaces using art” The Why Men project, which saw a series of illuminated wire men wrapped in rope light engaged in every day tasks placed around the district, earned the District a BASA ward earlier this year. This project was the result of a little bit of ingenuity and a while lot of trouble shooting. The illumination project launched during the festive season in 2006 saw 500 trees wrapped in lights. For the 2007 season, and inspired by a similar project from Turin, Italy, the SCMD wanted to use the same rope light strung across the streets in designs developed by artist Usha Seejarim. They then discovered that the street lights and poles over the designated spots were positioned erratically and made it near impossible to string anything across the streets. “So we sat with 5km of rope lights and unusable designs” says Reilly. “ Usha said give me a week and she came back later with the Why Men concept. It was simple, yet so unique.”

“Mothers were pushing prams and people came down from their offices to eat their lunch on the benches”. And then the train came…as did new phone cables, and the constant flow of developers in and around the area.

“The streets of Sandton Central are forever being dug up. If it not new telephone cables, then it’s the city utilities repairing infrastructure . The problem with projects like this is that we can’t wait until the ‘one day’. If you stop moving forward, you regress,” says Reilly. “I’ve just decided to go ahead and they must dig around my benches”.

utilize the facilities, without encouraging “local residents” to take up the invitation of a more permanent open air address. Enter big brother. It would seem that a charmed life in Sandton Central, like most places in the world is a see-saw balancing act where, the price of public safety is privacy. With fifty public safety ambassadors on the streets and ten CCTV camera “we know every pothole in the area and can see exactly what the guys are up to.” says Reilly. The flipside is that the Sandton Central Management District, with one of the highest concentration of the most expensive cars in the Africa, has only seen 5 hijackings in 4 years With two public “art parks”, a heritage project and a public exhibition project in the future most would say that pervasive security is a small price to pay for being able to take advantage of the weather and nature that makes so many of us stay in South Africa. I would certainly sit under a tree rather than only view it from my office window. Home to the JSE, and the offices many of the most powerful men and women on the continent, Sandton Central is without a doubt the seat of power in Africa. And a beautifully designed seat it might turn out to be after all.

Driving through the streets of Sandton as a whole is a real challenge these days, where it seems that the holes in the ground from the never-ending building developments, infrastructure upgrades and Gautrain works are as deep as the cold skyscrapers are tall. These developments have halted the plans to place artists’ designed custom benches Individually sponsored by the occupants of Sandton, such as Bowman and Gillfillan, Tiber, Discover, the JSE

Public furniture is all very well and good but it brings with it a whole new set of management challenges, that of allowing the residents to

Taryn Cohn works for Johannesburg based art agency, ArtSource.


South African Art Times.

September 2008

Page 15

What’s on at Iziko

Long Street hotel development brings artistic tinge to luxury living By Patrick Burnett Having a good old South African joll with a strong artistic tinge is now a lot easier with the opening of The Grand Daddy in Long Street, a four-star hotel mixing theater, food and a place to stay. Hotel Group Daddy Long Legs are behind the concept, having acquired the Metropole Hotel in Long Street. Co-owners Jody Aufrichtig and Nick Ferguson have renamed the building The Grand Daddy. The hotel has 25 rooms, restaurants and a bar, but is also in the same block as the Space Theatre, which Aufrichtig and Ferguson are in the process of restoring. The theater is an iconic venue in Cape Town. It was founded in the 1970s and gained a reputation for playing

host to struggle theater. It will open at the end of the year.

by an artist, poet, photographer, designer or musician.

Aufrichtig said the redevelopment of the Metropole Hotel, a historic Georgian building, was costing R4-5 million, but between the Metropole and the Space Theatre, cost price and redevelopment amounted to “about R50 million”.

The Grand Daddy will feature a similar approach, but offer more amenities and luxuries, said Aufrichtig.

“We are trying to develop the whole area, bringing the concept of a joll for the night, watching theatre and eating some good food.” The group already runs Daddy Long Legs Independent Travellers Hotel, a 13-room boutique backpacker, which has been described as “like sleeping in an art gallery”. Each room is uniquely decorated

Aufrichtig said rates would be set at R945 per night, a price aimed at guaranteeing volume and value for money. The hotel will have a conference venue and offer special rates for corporates. Aufrichtig said the approach was geared towards offering a value-for-money place to stay that people would remember.

Heritage Day at Iziko Museums This Heritage Day, Iziko Museums are offering a bountiful programme of events, all proudly homegrown. To further commemorate the occasion, entrance to all Iziko Museums will be free to the public from 22 – 28 September.

ART HOLIDAYS in Magaliesburg a Wildlife SAFARI! Wellknown sculptor Charles GOTTHARD invites you to come and join him for a weeks art doing sculpture or painting. You will be staying in our lovely guest accommodation on the Magalies bergriver with a Zen Spa and delicious healthy meals! See our website on www.goblins.co.za

CONTACT; Marguerite Gotthard 0145771126/0829008205/ fax 0866469094/ e/mail outofafrika@telkomsa.net

On Heritage Day, proceedings begin with some Klopse Culture influence, as the 150-member Ashwin Willemse Orient Marching Band escorts visitors from the Bo-Kaap Museum in Wale Street to the Iziko Koopmans-De Wet House in Strand Strand. Here, visitors will enjoy a live re-enactment of life and times of the famous Marie Koopmans-De Wet – as narrated by Ms Nothing, servant of the elegant socialite. The performance by the Rooster Theatre Collective at Koopmans-De Wet House, probably the Cape’s most pristine house museum, will be set against a soundscape of women singing and beading. Further activities take place at the Iziko South African Museum and include poetry workshops, music,

live performance, behind-thescenes tours and film screenings. At Iziko South African National Gallery, a variety of exhibitions will be on view to which visitors will have free access. These include the opening of the Steven Shore Exhibition, which marks the Month of Photography 4. Shore is noteworthy for being the youngest person and the first living photographer to hold a solo exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, at age twenty-four. The exhibition has been organised and sponsored by the Roger Ballen Foundation, which is dedicated to promoting the education of photography and focuses on bringing the work of international photographers to South Africa. Also opening on the 24th September at the Gallery, is Keepers of the Music, an exhibition of 100 African musical instruments which will be displayed as art pieces. The exhibition includes audio- visual displays and music workshops.

Another important exhibition is Albert Adams: Journey on a Tightrope. This is the first retrospective exhibition of the internationally-acclaimed, Cape Town-born artist, who left apartheid South Africa and lived much of his life abroad, working, teaching and exhibiting in London and elsewhere. And of course, for children, there will be a whole host of activities including drum-making, creative writing and photography workshops. This wonderful pot-pourri of events promises to be the perfect way to celebrate Heritage Day. Iziko Museums invite one and all to join them. For further details and the full programme, contact Power at 021 481 3829 or visit www.iziko.org.za

Epsac turns 90 The Eastern Province Society of Arts and Crafts (Epsac) celebrated its 90th anniversary in August with a special exhibition hosted at its building in central Port Elizabeth. The exhibition, funded by Nedbank Business Banking and Business and Arts South Africa, featured

leading Eastern Cape artists and opened on 16 August, the exact day Epsac was launched 90 years ago. Also launched at the exhibition was a booklet on the history of Epsac written by historian Margaret Harridine. “I think what has been good about

Epsac is that it has provided space for artists starting out as well as established ones. It is a place where leading artists exhibit and where newcomers are welcome,” said Sue Hoppe, vice chairperson of Epsac, speaking about the contribution Epsac had made to the artistic community in the Eastern Cape.


SAATSEPT08  

, THE SOUTH AFRICAN PROFESSIONAL September 2008 • Issue 9 Vol 3 • RSA Subscription 180 p.a • September Print & Distrib. 7 000 copies • O...

Read more
Read more
Similar to
Popular now
Just for you