Thursday, May 31, 2012

Meeting Jack Lugg and Van Gogh

After a brief break to update the world on my artistic response to the ANC in the last posting, I return here to documenting my art reviews from the Herald, Port Elizabeth. (To view the articles, hold in shift and left click.)

It was quite a thing meeting my former art school head, Jack Lugg, some 30 years after we'd last met. He was a singular inspiration as painter, sculptor and draughtsman at the East London Technical College art department. This appeared on May 18, 2009. It continues below.

A picture of one of Jack Lugg's works from the exhibition.

This exhibition of works by Chinese artists appeared on June 3, 2009, and continues below.

The Chinese show concludes.

This appeared on June 8, 2009. It concludes below.

Concluding ...

This was from June 17, 2009. Again, it concludes below.

The last of it.

Anthony Harris's exhibition was reviewed on June 29, 2009.

The 1820 Settlers Art Group's show was reviewed on July 13, 2009.

Yes indeed, a Van Gogh exhibition. Read on ...

This was a historic exhibition, the EP Society of Arts and Crafts' 90th annual exhibition. This appeared on August 13, 2009.

This New Signatures exhibition was reviewed on August 31.

For those at Rhodes, NMMU and the NMM Art Museum who ensured I was eventually prevented from continuing with this sort of work, I guess you'e now happy. The Herald runs perhaps one art review every month, if that. A few years back I ensured art was given continuing prominence.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Saying it more subtly than Brett Murray

In the wake of the controversy that has erupted surrounding South African artist Brett Murray's painting, 'The   Spear', I thought I'd post some pieces I did around 2005, at the height of the Thabo Mbeki era. The works continue a theme I have been propounding since not long after Mbeki took the reins in 1999. (To view them bigger, press shift and left click. Left click again to see them larger still.)

I came across some 1950s and 1960s South African postage stamps - the sort I grew up with as a child - and decided that they represented, in a way, something of the progress our country had made since the arrival of the European colonists. So the new flag is comprised of stamps from the old South Africa, while the whole is surrounded by the colours of the old flag, the Oranje Blanje Blou.

Interestingly, I submitted this work for the 2005 Kebble art exhibition. I was notified on my cellphone that it had been accepted, but later, when I went to pick up the other works I had submitted for an exhibition at the EP Society of Arts and Crafts Gallery in Port Elizabeth, I was told it had in fact not been selected. Should I be surprised at this change of mind, given that this work, which I called 'Between the Lines', does not really square with the sort of politically correct philosophy that Kebble, who was shot dead in mysterious circumstances in September 2005, espoused, given his close ties to the ANC Youth League.

Those who've been following this blog will have read some of the articles I wrote in the Herald, Port Elizabeth, attacking Mbeki's shocking policy of appeasement towards Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe. Anyway, in this work, called 'A Helping Hand', I used a press photograph of the two of them at the height of Mugabe's reign of terror - when white farmers were driven off their farms, newspapers were shut down, political opponents were attacked - to again make the point, using stamps from the former Rhodesia, that without the successful country built up by those early colonists, he would not have any of the riches he enjoyed/enjoys as a dictator. The bits of coloured paper used to fashion the shape of Zimbabwe are actually the torn-off pieces of envelope from which I removed the stamps. In one you can make out part of the franking of the name, Bulawayo.

Pardon the reflective glass, but I thought I'd give another view of this work. Note the colours of the ANC surrounding this image. My point is that our destinies are all interlinked.

The camera I'm using is what one would call fairly inexpensive, hence it does not give the sort of perfectly rectangular shapes necessary for photographing works of art. Here I have tried to show Mbeki and Mugabe's role in turning Zimbabwe inside out and upside down, destroying its economy and trampling on human rights. Just recently, on the PE beachfront, the African people selling arts and crafts from around the continent, were also selling the ridiculous banknotes that Mugabe was having printed as inflation surged into the millions. I wish I'd bought a 100 trillion dollar note - but I wasn't prepared to fork out the R30 or so it was going for.

I called this 'Occupational Hazard', based on the two bottom stamps. Note how the cityscape stamps have also been inverted, to underscore the country's upheaval.

The ANC is 100 years old this year. But for most of those years it existed in a country, yes which was beset by racism, but also one that achieved much and produced stamps celebrating things like commercial agriculture.

Interesting, isn't it, that the hand holding the spear in the ANC logo is white. Perhaps a tribute to Joe Slovo.

This, called  'Quo Vadis', I did in 2006, with Zim's descent into oblivion continuing apace. Some of the stamps are from an earlier colonial era, but all make the point of the origins of those states.

Another view of 'Quo Vadis' showing how I incorporated the colours of the Zim flag into the work.

As noted on an earlier blog, I picked up a couple of black bags full of old stamps and envelopes. I like the thought that stamps were carefully, or not so carefully, stuck on envelopes or parcels, handed in at a post office, franked, and then the parcel or envelope was sent to its destination. So each stamp, or group of stamps, contains a story. This one I called 'Secretary Bird' after the stamp.

This is exactly as the paper was cut by whoever, back in the 1960s, decided to keep these stamps. I've called it 'Barclays' because, though not visible here, the bank's name was embossed in the red wax seal.

In earlier postings, I have shown a plethora of envelopes with old SA stamps and names of companies on them. These were done in 2005, before I even started this blog. This one I called 'City Treasurer' for the destination of these envelopes.

Another layer of government in the 1960s gave rise to the destination of these. I call the work 'Divisional Council'.

In this one, called 'Buffalo', I incorporated a particularly pleasing envelope and large array of stamps. I like the way the buffalo logo on the left faces off against the wildebeest stamp on the right. Those stamps I recall as being from the 1950s, before we became a republic. Indeed, though I can't make out the date on the franking mark, I see the stamp is for one penny.

And then there is this. As yet untitled, I have been working on this abstract for the past few months.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Fine art and Port Elizabeth's 2010 stadium

After a brief Grahamstown visit in my previous posting, I've returned to the recording of my art reviews published in the Herald, PE, in the latter part of the first decade of this century. This section covers from mid-September, 2008, till mid-May, 2009. (To read them, hold down control and left click. Click again to see them larger still.)

The Montage Gallery in Walmer really made an art of staging art exhibitions. This was published on September 17, 2008

Due to scanning constraints, my review of photographerTim Hopwood's show is done in two takes. It was published on September 29, 2008

My sons and I made regular forays to the North End Lake to monitor progress on the construction of the stadium being built for the 2010 Fifa World Cup. This led to our starting our first blog, 2010 Stadium Watch. These are two of my pictures taken at the time and published in the Herald on October 6, 2008. We actually met an engineer working on the project while taking pictures and he told us he visited used our blog to follow the project while out of the countrry. I plan, at some stage, to use some of those pictures to present a pictorial record of the project

This review was published on October 13, 2008

At one point the powers that be made life more difficult for me, making me take my own pictures at the various art shows I attended. Hence the picture byline. Again, I had to scan it in two parts. This was run on October 14

This was run on October 15, 2008, and concludes below.

My photo was run with this article

Another fine show at the Cuyler Street Gallery. This is from October 27, 2008, and concludes below

The conclusion

Tossie Theron kept me on my toes. This, marking the closure of her gallery, also appeared on October 27, 2008

Port Alfred artists featured in this show, reviewed on November 17, 2008, and concluding below

The last bit

I even had a kind word on November 17, 2008, for Melanie Hillebrand, director of the Nelson Mandela Metro Art Museum

Another bit of Montage magic. This is from November 24, 2008

The EP Society of Arts and Crafts (Epsac) gallery often delivered fine fare. This is from February 2, 2009, and concludes below

The ending

I still kept submitting the odd piece to Lifestyle, the Sunday Times magazine. This is from March, 22, 2009

Another interesting Epsac show, from March 23, 2009, it concludes below

I recall this review led to a call from Ken Denton, the Irish magnate who has bought up large swathes of historic Central and, sadly, left many historic gems to fall into almost irreparable states of direpair. His attempt at finally restoring the 1860s Donkin Terrace homes has been halted by officials because he is changing their character. They are arguably the most distinctive architectural feature in the city. How tragic.

This show certainly made me keen to visit India at some time. This is from May 11, 2009, and concludes below

Indian sunset