……………………………………………………………..………………………………………………….…… BY BILLY SUTER
DURBAN’S KZNSA Gallery bordering Bulwer Park in Glenwood is presenting two new interesting and diverse exhibitions until October 28.
The Main Gallery is hosting EDGE by National Fibreworks, while the Mezzanine Gallery is showcasing a solo exhibition by Durban artist Grace Kotze. Both exhibitions opened on October 10.
EDGE marks the 20th anniversary of the South African Fibreworks group which is displaying recent work of Fibreworks members. There are three parts to the show: an open, non-themed section; a themed section where Fibreworks artists were challenged to create a new work in response to an existing South African artwork displayed in any South African gallery or museum; and finally, a Major Minors display of 25cm x 25cm works.
“During the course of the exhibition, a textile installation will unfold where members of the public are invited to participate in a collaborative artwork,” says a gallery spokesman.
“The idea of a Fibreworks collective was conjured up in 1998 by a group of female friends. While some came from quilting backgrounds and others were trained in graphic design or fine art, they were united in the commitment to promote fibre and textile art as a serious art form’
Jeanette Gilks, Fibreworks’ chairman and a founding member, says” ‘We were all interested in creating a group dedicated to promoting change within the existing art and craft platforms in South Africa, and we were keen to generate interaction, present new challenges and foster critical input from our members”.
The exhibition is accompanied by a public participation programme. Small squares of white fabric and various kinds of recycled objects – for example, aluminum pull-tabs and buttons – will be available, and members of the public are invited to create a ‘Square of their Thoughts’. Any thoughts or images!
These small material tiles will be displayed on the gallery floor as an expanding installation. Anyone can add their thoughts to the growing body of the collaborative TEXT-TILE artwork.
Spoils of a Creative Forage is the title of Grace Kotze’s exhibition which tells of her present creative meanderings.
Kotze’s exhibitions usually consist of a very limited subject base through which she explores her concerns.
She says in a press release: “At present, my mind is like an overactive mouse, scurrying through an overstocked pantry gathering delicious visuals. Hence Spoils of a Creative Forage is full of a myriad subjects held together by an emotional pull.
“I am very conscious of humanity’s attachment to objects through emotional bonds formed by family stories, memories of past experiences and associations. These objects become almost like a talisman that hold some greater power than inanimate objects.”
Interwoven with these themes are the creatures of Durban that bring suggested movement into the genre of the still life
“As much as I love still lives, adding a subject that moves always allows me to exhale during the creative and viewing process.
“All the birds and animals that I paint are ones I have stalked and photographed in Durban. This gives me a deeper understanding and compassion for the manner in which they have to navigate their way around the city.’
BILLY SUTER reports that Durban’s KZNSA Gallery in Glenwood is hosting two interesting new exhibitions until October 28. – works by the Fibreworks group and by Grace Kotze. … More Fibreworks art and a creative forage
BY BILLY SUTER
IN CELEBRATION of Heritage Month, Durban’s Phansi Museum at 500 Esther Roberts Road, Glenwood, will present music, food and art from 5pm to 7.30pm on Thursday, September 13.
Join artists Ildo Nandja, Milton Chissano, Hailey Fudu and Ashantewaa Ngidi for an intimate evening of unity building, music and dinner to celebrate diversity during Heritage Month.
Prebook your discounted tickets on Quicket for R100 (R50 per child). This includes dinner.
Also note that the museum is currently hosting The Community Murals Project until September 21. This has history remembered through an eight-panel visual project by resident artist, Peter Engblom, who created the collages in the Roberts House Cowshed adjoining the museum.
“A remarkable figure in the art world of our province was Terry Anne Stevenson, the friend and confidant of so many grassroots artists. Through their murals her group, together with the people who often illegally occupied public spaces, reclaimed them all over the province,” says a gallery spokesman.
“Who can forget the Human Rights murals on the Durban Prison wall – all three layers of them. The Bat Centre murals, the grand and giving Umkubulwana at Berea station and the Market. No wall was safe in those early days of democracy.
“No school, no railway station, no under- or overpass, or lonely wall could withstand a Community Murals attack. Many individuals branched out and became remarkable artists in their own right.
“Terry Anne, through her relationship with the African Art Centre, Rorke’s Drift and quite a number of informal and formal art collectives, became the conduit through which many township, rural and urban artists entered the public space.
“In her memory and all those who worked with her, the trustees decided to embark on a legacy project that will be of long-lasting value. It follows the arts in KZN from the days, about 200 years ago, when records were first kept.”
The plan is to tell this history around a number of nodes with which people are familiar. The influence of the missions; training of techniques and concepts of western art and religion in places like Ceza, Rourke’s Drift and Marianhill; Ndaleni; the celebration of indigenous art during the Grossert years; Adams Mission and the importance of the African Art Centre, the Community Art Project and the Bat Centre.
“From these we branch out and follow leads in all directions. All is placed against a backdrop of the politics and social engineering at the time.”
BILLY SUTER reports that Durban’s Phansi Museum in Glenwood, in celebration of Heritage Month, will present music, food and art from 5pm to 7.30pm on Thursday, September 13. … More Music, food and Phansi Museum art
…………………………………………………………………………………….……………………………. BY BILLY SUTER
A COLOURFUL exhibition by a noted Johannesburg-born artist whose work appears in collections all over the world – including the Museum of Modern Art in New York – opens at the KZNSA Gallery in Glenwood, Durban, next month.
The exhibition of new paintings, sculptural assemblages, collages and video is by Cameron Platter, titled GALAXY AS0-730223NMJ-ZSDSSS. It will run in the gallery’s Main and Mezzanine Galleries, as well as the Media Room, from September 6 to October 7.
The opening, at 5.30pm on September 6, will be preceded, at 4pm that day, by Platter hosting a question-and-answer session. All are welcome and entry is free.
Platter’s work also appears in the Iziko South African National Gallery; the FRAC Centre, Pays de la Loire, France; Margulies Collection, Miami, US; The Zietz MOCAA, South Africa; and The New Church Collection in South Africa.
His work has been featured in The Los Angeles Times, Artforum, NYAQ, The Guardian, The Wall Street Journal, Vice Magazine and the NKA Journal of Contemporary African Art.
Platter was born in 1978 in Johannesburg. He graduated with a BFA in painting from the Michaelis School of Fine Art, Cape Town, in 2001, and now lives in KwaZulu Natal.
BILLY SUTER reports that an colourfyl exhibition by a widely acclaimed, Johannesburg-born artist opens at the KZNSA Gallery in Glenwood, Durban, next month. … More Platter of colourful art works
…………………………………………………………………..…………………………………. BY BILLY SUTER
TWO new exhibitions, Flight of Fancy by Ceramics Southern Africa, and Themes, a group exhibition by Garret Artists, open at Durban’s KZNSA Gallery in Glenwood on Tuesday, August 21.
Running until September 2, Flight of Fancy will be in the Main Gallery. It will showcase work of the members of the KwaZulu-Natal branch of Ceramics Southern Africa, with guest artists Margot Rudolph and Phumlani Nyawo.
Rudolph obtained her national diploma in Ceramic Design at the Pretoria Technikon in 1986. She returned full-time to pottery and opened her own studio in 1996.
She works mainly in stoneware combined with colours, and her individual style embraces a distinctly African theme. She draws inspiration from indigenous plants and textures, manifesting in vibrantly unique ceramic works of art.
Rudolph has won an award on the regional ceramic exhibition and has exhibited on regional and national exhibitions organised by the Ceramics SA, as well as various group exhibitions and solo exhibitions.
Phumlani Nyawo has been involved in ceramic art since 2006, but says he learnt a lot from his brothers when he was a youngster and still living at home in Pongola. “My brothers made the pottery and inspired me to get involved in art.”
Besides his brothers, Phumlani says other artists such as Clive Sithole have had a huge impact on him as an artist, and he has learnt a lot from them.
He uses time-honoured techniques. His forms are contemporary, dramatic yet timeless. His beautiful ceramics are ideally suited for placement on coffee tables, bookshelves or anywhere they can be seen at eye level for guests to admire.
Themes, also running until September 2, is an exhibition from the Garret Artists group, which has been in existence for 25-plus years and comprises a number of local artists who meet once a week to make art and exchange ideas.
The essential focus of the group is on drawing, but that term is loosely interpreted to mean works on paper. This broad definition of ‘drawing’ even allows for the inclusion of printmaking, and a series of lino prints are included in the exhibition.
Media used ranges from graphite pencils to paper collages and from charcoal sticks to drawing inks. In other words, the artists explore a wide range of mark making materials and this adds a particular vitality to their works.
The artists work around a broad common theme over a number of weeks with each theme serving as a means of providing the art making process with both direction and unity. However, the aim is for each artist to investigate a given theme in a very personal way within very broad parameters.
Personal expression is thus paramount and no tuition, as such, is given. Constructive criticism of the artworks is invited and plays a vital and integral role within the group.
Members can learn from each other in a supportive, affirming environment and so strengthen their own art making processes. A range of themes will be discerned within the current exhibition and include ‘coastLINES’, ‘Shoes’, ‘Plants in Containers’, ‘Vessels’, and ‘Buildings’.
Still on the local art scene… note that some colourful new woodcut prints by Ezequiel Mabote are now to be seen at The Blue Caterpillar Art Gallery, which is housed in the same complex as the fascinating Butterflies for Africa attraction at 37 Willowton Road in Pietermaritzburg.
“We’re delighted to present a new collection by one of Southern Africa’s most popular woodcut artists – from the quirky to the serene, these woodcut prints demonstrate Ezequiel’s fine workmanship in delivering pieces alive with joyful movement and creativity,” says curator Jeni Cramer.
Mabote is a self-taught artist from Mozambique who got his inspiration as a child, learning from older boys in his neighbourhood who did woodcarving and fabric design.
He learnt the basics of art at school but was forced to abandon these studies to find work to support his family. Later in life he got the opportunity to study fine art at the Nucleo de Arte in Maputo, where he developed his skills in woodcut printing.
“The high degree of quality and professionalism in his work is testament to his talent and dedication to art. Ezequiel’s work has been exhibited in a number of galleries worldwide, including several exhibitions in New York and Chicago,” says Cramer.
For my review of the gallery and the delightful Butterflies for Africa enclose – which has attracted more than 100 species of butterfly to a 6 000 square-metre garden created soley to attract the creatures – click here: https://wp.me/p8dL0W-156
BILLY SUTER reports on two new exhibitions, ‘Flight of Fancy’ by Ceramics Southern Africa and ‘Themes’, a group exhibition by Garret Artists, opening at Durban’s KZNSA Gallery soon. … More Artistic flights of fancy…
…………………………………………………………………..…………………………………………… BY BILLY SUTER
IN HONOUR of Nelson Mandela’s centenary year, the Hilton Arts Festival in September will have a special Madiba focus – from art work to theatre, blankets to installations and massive public art sculptures – when the event runs at various venues in the Hilton College grounds from September 14 to 16.
Two massive outdoor exhibitions have been arranged, the first being the thought-provoking “Think” bench, encouraging patrons to think differently. Rand Merchant Bank commissioned self-taught sculptor and artist Louis Olivier, who regularly works with the renowned William Kentridge, to create a series of art works that are both functional and attractive. The massive structure, spanning 14m, is one of a series of ‘benches’ which adorn public places – in this large-scale project that has been underway for some years.
Oliver was commissioned by RMB through its art curator, Teresa Lizamore, to create a pair of contemporary bookends inspired by Auguste Rodin’s The Thinker. This evolved into the benches – a larger scale version of the book-end concept.
The “Think” bench spells ‘THINK’ from one side and from another appears to be life-size figures interacting at different angles.
The second work will be based outside the school’s Chapel: T.O.L.E.R.A.N.C.E is a monumental public art sculpture consisting of nine letters in bronze.
International artist Guy Ferrer – who is French of Mediterranean origin – created this work as an ode to tolerance, depicting priests, wise men and pilgrims entwined in the letters, which suggests a religion, belief or spirituality. His starting point was a quote by the Dalai Lama: “It is not of importance that one be a believer or not: what is important is to be tolerant”.
In Buzz Room 3, a collection of John Meyer’s artworks, Mandela: A Life’s Journey, will be on display. The collection of numbered signed prints, owned by Andrew Dunn, is on permanent loan to Hilton College and will be curated, thanks to The Everard Read Gallery and the Tatham Art Gallery, for the public to appreciate. The 16 prints need to be viewed in sequence and follow the story of Madiba’s life.
Making its second appearance at the festival, featuring in Buzz Room 1, is the participative initiative, 67 Blankets for Mandela. This ‘Knitting Revolution for Nelson Mandela’ sparked ‘Knitwits’ from around the globe to contribute and create blankets and scarves for the thousands of less fortunate during winter.
They recently broke the Guinness Book of Records record for the world’s longest scarf, measuring in at over 29 km.
Inspired by the life and character of Mandela, pianist, composer, arranger, Burton Naidoo has transcribed some of Madiba’s most iconic speeches. The concert, entitled Our Song, includes the words of the speeches harmonised in the effort to create a musical backdrop to these important pieces. Burton has also written new compositions to compliment the performance.
Written for solo piano and track, the works audiences can expect include speeches from the Rivonia Trial, praise singing from Sthembile Mlangeni and Zolani Mkhiva at the inauguration, as well as FW De Klerk’s announcement to free Nelson Mandela at Parliament, 1990.
Naidoo has performed throughout the world and continues to push the boundaries of his musical imagination. This concert is scheduled for 2pm on Saturday, September 15.
The festival would not be possible without the generous support of Hilton College, Tiso Black Star, Grindrod Bank, Black Coffee Design, DWR Distribution, Extreme Events, Bidvest Car Rental, KZN Dept of Arts & Culture, Redlands Hotel, Assitej South Africa, Loud Crowd, Sappi, BASA, Corona and Capital Media.
The full festival programme will be available on Sunday, August 12, in The Sunday Times and on the festival website. Bookings open online on August 13.
BILLY SUTER reports that the Hilton Arts Festival in September will have a special Madiba focus – from art work to theatre, blankets to installations and massive public art sculptures. … More Madiba focus at Hilton Arts Festival
…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….. BY BILLY SUTER
THREE fascinating examples of doll-making, featured in an exhibition titled Re-Stitching Culture: Indigenous Dolls of South Africa, Australia and Canada, will be seen in the main gallery at Durban’s KZNSA Gallery in Glenwood from July 31 to August 19.
The exhibition will run in tandem with Markus Wörsdörfer’s photographic solo exhibition, DriftArt, a dreamy, poetic look at findings along the shoreline, in the KZNSA’s Mezzanine Gallery. It also opens on July 31.
Entrance is free and all are welcome. The cafe bar will be open.
Re-Stitching Culture reclaims traditional practice, explores health and wellbeing, and reveals intimate human stories through doll making, according to to KZNSA spokesman.
“Showcasing and bringing together three international examples of doll-making from three indigenous groups, the artists use dollmaking to highlight cultural practices that support healing through storytelling, and the sharing of oral personal narratives, which promote the transmission of cultural teachings.
“Encountering the Gomeroi gaaynggal programme, colourful Yarning dolls (Australia); the Six Nations Haudenosaunee People, and their faceless cornhusk dolls (Canada); and the Siyazama Project (South Africa) with their beautiful beaded dolls that support locally relevant HIV/AIDS education, is an unusual, and unique visual experience.”
The Re-Stitching Culture gathering of dolls collectively shows how the local indigenous communities, from each nation, are strengthened through reciprocol, creative and healing processes. This, in turn, supports capacity building for problem solving, and the reclaiming of indigenous knowledge, history and identity.
Communal craft and art-making has traditionally been a visually powerful medium for expressing cultural identities. In the pre-colonial past, plant and animal materials were gathered, and crafted in combination with storytelling, singing and dancing.
These actions helped to maintain social relations, perpetuate ideals, and support cultural behaviours that were considered beneficial in upholding communal wellbeing.
Doll-making is an example of a communal visual art form that plays a role in supporting healthy indigenous communities. This communal gathering of individuals to learn new artistic skills and to revitalise the stories, memories and identities are exemplified by the making of their individual dolls, which are all now presented in exhibition form to further the cause and inform the public.
BILLY SUTER reports that three examples of doll-making will be featured in a Durban exhibition titled “Re-Stitching Culture: Indigenous Dolls of South Africa, Australia and Canada”. … More Spotlights on indigenous dolls
……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………… BY BILLY SUTER
DURBAN is readying for an explosion of electronic art as part of the varied and colourful programme planned for ISEA2018 – the 24th International Symposium on Electronic Art, which will be an attraction in the city from tomorrow, June 23, until June 30.
The event intends to create a city-wide showcase of dozens of exhibitions, events, installations, walks, festivals and activities, and a major global conference on new media art, according to a spokesman.,
“ISEA2018 is a festival in two parts: an academic symposium at Durban’s DUT City Campus (June 25 to 27 June) comprising peer-reviewed papers, panels and keynote presentations for registered delegates travelling from around the world; and then the dozens of events on the cultural programme (June 23 to 30) and public workshops (until June 24 ).”
Partner venues are DUT City Campus; KZNSA Gallery; Durban Art Gallery; Denis Hurley Centre; Emmanuel Cathedral; BAT Centre; Bond Shed; Green Hub; Warwick Junction; Treasure Island; uShaka Marine World; K-Cap; Bulwer Park and Durban City Hall.
Most events are open to the public, are family-friendly and free of charge, the spokesman adds.
The cultural programme opens on the afternoon of Monday, June 25, at Durban’s BAT Centre on the Victoria Embankment. Among the projects scheduled to take over the centre are culture walks exploring the stories of the harbour, sound installations along Festival Island and surrounds; and artists from Benin in West Africa sharing the “Wakpon” app which brings art to the masses by allowing anyone with access to a smart-phone or tablet to enjoy a guided exhibition tour.
Also on offer will be a short film festival looking at the power of technology, sampling and repurposing in modern story-telling, and a number of performances and artist talks.
Monday also sees various exhibitions opening at Durban Art Gallery, including the Invisible Exhibition in the Circular Gallery, which comprises artworks made in virtual reality by some of South Africa’s most celebrated visual artists, viewed only through an iPad. Gallery 1 will host Change Agent – a massive collaborative media arts installation by Keith Armstrong from Australia, via Limpopo; and an exhibition featuring an interesting juxtaposition of works from the DAG permanent collection.
Also look at the gallery for Mediated, a striking statement on political power by lecturers from UKZN’s Digital Arts department; and Curiosities, featuring, among other works, a delicate interactive piece by Hyojin Jang from Korea, inspired by the leaves of the lotus flower, made with ribbons, wire and lights.
“A multi-genre, multi-media performance project runs on Tuesday in the Moth Hall in Old Fort Road: eSkIN 4 the visually impaired. Under the direction of Dr Jill Scott, the project showcases wearable technology that allows visually impaired performers and choreographers to express themselves through movement and sound and in so doing, enabling them to communicate with sighted people,” says the spokesman.
“Seven visually impaired students from the Lincoln Mason School in Umlazi will work with Durban choreographers/dancers Lorin Sookool and Thobi Maphanga to create a dance piece which explores this technology.”
Tuesday has a focus at Glenwood’s KZNSA Gallery and surrounds with the “Life Hacking gallery take over” project of fun, innovative and quirky exhibits – all with a strong social consciousness message. The public opening is at 7pm and visitors can meet some of the “Free Sunshine!” little. solar-panelled protest robots created in public workshops.
Also on show are the World After Us / Server Farms which uses discarded computer hardware as a basis for up-cycled garden installations; and some“Gambiologia” projects – which is the Brazilian practise of makeshift, the art of resorting to improvisation to repair what doesn’t work or to create what you need with what you have at your disposal.
“Ozma – the Lost World” is a fab, French, electronic-jazz band which will be performing at the KZNSA exhibition opening on Tuesday evening – being inspired by a grainy, old, black-and-white, silent film about dinosaurs which will be showing while the band performs. If the weather is good, the gallery takeover will spill out into adjoining Bulwer Park,” says the spokesman.
Wednesday sees ISEA2018 move to Durban’s Denis Hurley Centre with a full day’s programme. Of special interest is a talk, Africa in Space – imagining the future and considering Zambians’ involvement in the space race .Of note, too is Waiting for a Revolution – an interactive installation with a portable cardboard voting booth; and a sound installation highlighting citizens of Durban’s sonic memories.
There will be a culture walk exploring the important sites around the DHC in the inner city with activations along the way. Following on from the great successes recently of concerts in Emmanuel Cathedral, there will be building projections, video mapping and performances in honour of ISEA.
The format of ISEA changes on Thursday, June 28, and Friday, June 29 – with conference delegates having morning presentations in the Bond Shed on Point followed by breakaway groups and themed sessions.
The public component of Thursday takes visitors to uShaka Marine World from 4pm with a series of water-based and ecology-themed projects including “Slipstream”, which is an under-water sound installation inside one of the uShaka pools. Also, there will be a beach installation involving banks of TVs, sand sculptures and video installations.
uShaka is also the site for an interesting project – Nonument is rooted in a protest installation from Detroit, about the destruction of a public fountain which was demolished despite a public uproar. The artists created an app which explores the architecture, site and location of where the fountain used to be, pushing the boundaries of architecture, history and virtual reality.
There are two projects operating from uShaka which have a strong water-based research component, the results of which have been used as the basis for art.
Iconic, internationally-respected science journal, Leonardo, will have its 50th birthday celebrations as part of the evening’s programme.
Friday evening takes ISEA to Durban’s Station Drive for a series of events celebrating unlikely bedfellows: arts, science, beer and spices. It will be an evening of performances, projection and installations.
The rousing, unifying closing event of the ISEA2018 / Digifest05 / IF Durban season, on Saturday night, will be Interpret Durban (ID9) at the Durban City Hall – inside and outside the whole building from 6pm.
The space will be re-imagined by a team of artists from all over the world – using the spaces in an unusual way, and displaying art in various forms throughout the building. The centrepiece will be the main hall which will become a dance-floor for the evening.
Fringe events over the festival can be found at Green Hub; K-Cap at KwaMashu; the English market and various other satellite venues.
Local ISEA2018 / Digifest05 / IF Durban partners are Durban University of Technology’s Faculty of Arts and Design, Innovate Durban, eThekwini Municipality, Durban KwaZulu-Natal Convention Bureau and The Trinity Session.
ISEA symposia are co-ordinated by ISEA International. Founded in the Netherlands in 1990, ISEA International (formerly Inter-Society for the Electronic Arts) is an international non-profit organisation fostering inter-disciplinary academic discourse and exchange among culturally diverse organisations and individuals working with art, science and technology. ISEA International headquarters is supported by the University of Brighton (UK).
BILLY SUTER reports that Durban is to experience a big art attack – as part of the programme for ISEA2018, the 24th International Symposium on Electronic Art (from June 23-30). … More Electronic art explosion for Durban
………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………. BY BILLY SUTER
TWO new exhibitions, one in Durban and the other in Pietermaritzburg, are sure to attract art lovers.
Works by Nigel Starling are on show at the Blue Caterpillar Art Gallery, 37 Willowton Road, at the Butterflies for Africa building which is open every Tuesday to Friday from 9am to 3.30pm, Saturdays from 9.30am to 3.30pm, and Sundays from 10.30am to 3.30pm.
Starling’s work reflects on, as well as draws inspiration from, people going about their day-to-day business. This attention to people’s lives is what he loves about painting.
Self taught, but having completed training and been inspired by many people over the past decade or so, Starling is exhibiting three, large-scale canvas pieces inspired by his travels to Mexico, and with a common theme of people earning a honest day’s living.
He uses a method of drafting which is helpful in transferring his ideas to a larger scale on canvas. This maintains the accuracy and proportion of his initial drawing of the image.
Starling enjoys using the alkyd medium which replaces the linseed oil with alkyd resin.This decreases the drying time and allows the artist a better flow and transparency to the colour of the oil paint.
The Blue Caterpillar Art Gallery was established in 2001. It covers two floors of the Butterflies for Africa complex in Pietermaritzburg. The gallery exhibits a wide range of styles and mediums covering both established and up and coming artists from South Africa and beyond.
A wide range of local artists is featured – see the website www.artsales.co.za which is regularly updated with new work, says curator Jeni Cramer.
The Starling exhibition will run until the end of July. More information is available from Cramer at (033) 387 1356.
Meanwhile, Durban’s KZNSA Gallery in Glenwood opened a solo exhibition by Andries Gouws, titled Vertoef/Linger, on May 22 and is scheduled to present it until June 10.
Vertoef/Linger is Gouwss’ fifth one-man show at this park gallery. Before it arrived in Durban, it visited the Pretoria Art Museum, and after Durban it will go to the Irma Stern Museum in Cape Town.
Gouws previously had one-man shows in Chicago, Bloemfontein, Johannesburg, Kimberley, Cape Town, Grahamstown, Oudtshoorn, Potchefstroom and Stellenbosch.
“Why do I paint the way I do? Why do I paint all these rooms without people, these mirrors, these feet? I don’t know. What do my paintings mean? I don’t know,” the artist says.
“As an artist and as a philosopher I have learnt that there is no verbal equivalent for what happens visually in a painting. Moreover, the artist’s words carry no special authority.
“I tread gingerly when making an artist’s statement. Whatever I say is speculative and tentative. The silence or muteness I strive for in my paintings would be lost if they suggested a meaning which can be captured directly in words.”
He continues: “Meditation – lingering in an awareness of the here and now – plays a large role in my life. To me the mood of my paintings suggests something between the meditative and a sense of failure, perhaps abjection.
“Had they been only meditative I don’t think viewers would have found them awkward, uncanny or even desolate, in the way they do.
“Art works don’t simply arise from the artist’s personal experience, but always also from a dialogue with other artists. My paintings are a modest salute to painters like Vermeer, Piero, Morandi, Arikha, and how they capture light, space and stillness.
“Although many of the artists I admire, like Goya, Guston and Kentridge, engage with the problems and terrors of the social and political world, I can’t emulate them – the place my work arises from is too different.”
BY BILLY SUTER
DURBAN talents Musa Hlatshwayo (dance) and Guy Buttery (music) are among 2018 Standard Bank Young Artist Award winners to be highlighted at the 44th National Arts Festival, scheduled for June 28 to July 8 in Grahamstown.
Of note, too, is that international singer-songwriter Suzanne Vega, of Luka fame, will be performing just two shows – wrapping up the festival on July 7 and 8. Grahamstown is her only destination in South Africa on this tour.
Durban dance icon Musa Hlatshwayo is to present Udodona, a dance work which, against the many ongoing incidents that draw attention to the silenced brokenness of the black male identity, explores the black male body; its associated and constructed identity and its placement in the society (particularly in traditional African communities, households and churches).
Fusing both abstract and narrative approaches, the work explores indoctrination and incubation into the systems that ignore the development of black power and unity.
Guitarist Guy Buttery presents Guy Buttery: The Mending. His endless movement towards a distinct musical voice has led him to distil heritages and traditions (as well as their contradictions and tensions) with de-colonialised elements, into a new and highly innovative song form that combines the artist’s adoration for both Southern African musical traditions and ambient music forms fusing cinematic soundscapes within the context of South Africa.
Buttery will collaborate with artists across a number of works to produce a sound that is expected to include Indian classical aspects and a capella vocals alongside a variety of strings instruments including a sitar and double bass, with Buttery on an improvised soundscapes, mbira and various guitars.
The combination of this varied instrumentation creates a rich tapestry pioneering new musical terrain and will surely be something National Arts Festival audiences will remember for years to come.
The festival’s Main programme this year is a “heady mix of uniquely South African and international arts, culture and creativity,” says the event’s executive producer, Ashraf Johaardien
“The festival deliberately juxtaposes high concept with entertainment for all because it is precisely the tension between those two poles of artistic expression that fuels the engine that drives the National Arts Festival’s 11 Days of Amazing,” he adds.
The festival spotlight this year falls firmly on a phenomenal range of both emerging and established female artists. Look out for (among many others) choreographer and this year’s Featured Artist Mamela Nyamza, visual artist Gabrielle Goliath, author Mary Watson, curator Tina Smith, actors Klara van Wyk and Buhle Ngaba, as well as Standard Bank Young Artists Thandi Ntuli, Jemma Kahn and Chuma Sopotela.
The Main programme segues from fresh takes on Shakespeare and the return of Corne and Twakkie in The Most Amazing Show to the ‘un-dance’ of Steven Cohen, the compelling ‘un-theatre’ of visiting Canadian playwright Greg MacArthur, and the unconventional Theatre In The Backyard of Nyanga-based theatre producer and director Mhlanguli George.”
“Each year the Festival sheds its skin and presents a whole new experience for our visitors – and the innovations we’re introducing will make sure that 2018 is no exception,” says festival CEO Tony Lankester.
“We’ve given a lot of thought to the way audiences engage with us, what they want to get out of the time they spend in Grahamstown and we’re helping create many and varied pathways to an amazing experience.
Trailblazing dancer and choreographer Mamela Nyamza takes the title of Featured Artist in 2018. The Featured Artist is recognised for contribution to the South African cultural narrative and is invited to bring multiple works to the festival.
Nyamza will present three works, including a new piece, Black Privilege. Presented by the National Arts Festival, co-commissioned by Ruhrtriennale (Germany) and co-produced by PACT Zollverein (Germany), the work is informed by the artist’s experience of the rejection of the other by mainstream gatekeeping institutions.
Nyamza’s Phuma-Langa, presented by The Forgotten Angle Theatre Collaborative, calls for renewed reconciliation of all South Africans through the diverse experiences of the country’s many cultures.
Hatched, first brought to the festival 10 years ago, is Nyamza’s autobiographical piece about the life changes experienced through motherhood and features Mamela’s 18-year-old son Amkele Mandla, who performed in the show as an eight-year-old when it premiered.
Standard Bank Young Artist for Theatre 2018, Jemma Kahn, presents The Borrow Pit. Through the lens of kamishibai, an ancient Japanese storytelling medium, Kahn tells the story of Francis Bacon and Lucian Freud. These men each had a muse who helped them on their way to prodigious fame. As you might suspect, it did not end so well for the muses.
The Borrow Pit asks with harrowing humour, ‘Is art more important than people?’ Written, directed and illustrated by Kahn, she also joins a stellar cast of Tony Miyambo, Wilhelm van der Walt and David Viviers.
Standard Bank Young Artist for Performance Art 2018, Chuma Sopotela, presents Indlulamthi. Indlulamthi is the Xhosa word for a giraffe but, in direct translation, it also means ‘the ones who are taller than the trees’.
Sopetela uses this image to celebrate the children who are on the pavements of Grahamstown. The piece will be performed on the streets of Grahamstown and, using video, sound and performance elements, seeks to challenge our thinking of currency; and the connection between people. “At height, Indlulamthi will be almost a statue element, which will then dissolve into nothingness again”, says Sopotela.
Standard Bank Young Artist for Visual Art 2018, Igshaan Adams, presents When Dust Settles. Incorporating aspects of scented sculpture, textiles, found objects and performance, the installation will comprise between 15 and 20 artworks and takes the form of an immersive environment in the subterranean space of the Monument in Grahamstown.
Revisiting earlier bodies of work, the presentation will draw inspiration from conceptual themes, artistic processes and materialities dating back several years to investigate the evolution of ideas within the artist’s practice. The work includes a performative element with Adams’s brother, Kashief Adams.
Standard Bank Young Artist for Jazz 2018, Thandi Ntuli, presents a trio of works at the Standard Bank Jazz Festival.The first, on June 29, will be an exploration of her music to date, from her album The Offering, and the recently released, Exiled.
On June 30, she will be in Rebirth of Cool with DJKenzhero on the decks and a powerful young band to create a reinterpretation of Miles Davis’s seminal 1957 album, Birth of the Cool. This, mixed with the sounds and styles of current South Africa, results in a merging of three generations of music – 1960s jazz, 1990s hip-hop and contemporary South African jazz fusion.
July 1 sees Ntuli on the piano in Way of Dancing. Two of Switzerland’s most interesting young vocalists, Lisette Spinnler and Julie Fahrer, in South Africa on a ProHelvetia residency, share their music with an excellent South African rhythm section, blending the sound of jazz from two continents.
Their music collectively draws attention to the modern and progressive approaches to jazz that the new generation of music-makers represents, weaving a tapestry of sound ever intriguing and beautiful. They are joined by Shane Cooper (bass) and Peter Auret (drums).
Among other items on the The Main Programme is the dance work Amaqhawe, a piece that explores what would happen if those who died for freedom woke up. What would they say? Mzokuthula Gasa, who makes his first appearance on the Main Programme, choreographs and directs Amaqhawe.
Moving Into Dance Mophatong will celebrate its 40-year anniversary with Ukubonga Inhlonipho, a programme choreographed by Sylvia Glasser, Themba Mbuli and Sunnyboy Motau, and starring the leading talents of Muzi Shili, Teboho Letele and Oscar Buthelezi, amongst others. The three works on the bill honour the company’s achievements and pay respect to the work and artistry of MIDM founder, Sylvia Glasser.
The 2018 ballet is Romeo and Juliet performed by Cape Town City Ballet under artistic director Robin van Wyk. Set to the classic Prokofiev score, this traditional favourite will be performed in the Guy Butler Theatre.
The South African State Theatre presents Kiu (the Swahili word for ‘thirst’). An examination of drought in Africa and the importance of preserving water, this raw and sensitive piece is choreographed and directed by Mdu Nhlapo. It will be performed to hauntingly beautiful, live Afrocentric music.
Bridging the gap between performance and visual art, formidable artist Steven Cohen will perform his work, put your heart under your feet… and walk/ To Elu, an intense meditation on loss, grief and absence, following the death of Elu, Cohen’s partner and artistic collaborator. Shocking, sad, beautiful and uncomfortable all at once, it is said to bean unforgettable piece.
Gathering Strands is a retrospective exhibition of works by Lionel Davis, artist, educator, anti-apartheid activist, political prisoner and former District Six resident. Best known for his linocuts of life in District Six, Davis held a retrospective at the National Gallery in Cape Town in July. The exhibition celebrates four decades of Davis’s activism and creative production.
On the theatre front, an interesting choice seems likely to be Swiss author and director Boris Nikitin’s rewrite of Hamlet, into a mix of experimental documentary play and music theatre. The enigmatic performer and electronic musician Julian Meding takes the part of a contemporary Hamlet who revolts against reality.
Supported by a baroque-quartet, Meding is a tour de force on stage as the piece challenges form with an array of multimedia elements. This approach will see the production being staged as part of the Creativate Digital Arts Festival as well as the Festival’s Main programme.
Jungfrau is also a must. It is the latest directorial work from 2016 Standard Bank Young Artist for Theatre Jade Bowers. Based on the novel by Caine Prize-winning South African writer Mary Watson, the book has been adapted for the stage by Ameera Patel, who also takes a lead role.
Of interest too, is UJ Arts & Culture’s rendition of Reza de Wet’s iconic African Gothic (translation of Diepegrond) which is the culmination of a process that has involved more than 300 students and lecturers from different departments at the UJ Faculty of Art, Design and Architecture (FADA). It is directed by Alby Michaels.
Staged, UJ Arts & Culture’s theatre development platform, is an extension of the successful UJ Can You? programme, which identifies and develops hidden talent from among the university’s 50 000 students.
The UJ STAGED showcase on the festival programme similarly seeks to nurture new plays and professional talent by creating a national platform to highlight selected works to local and international producers and presenters.
The STAGED productions for 2018 include Wynne Bredenkamp’s At The Edgeof The Light (South Africa), Joakim Daun’s The Incident (Sweden/Zimbabwe/ South Africa), Greg MacArthur’s A CITY (Canada/South Africa), and Tracks by Maude Sandham and Nicola Pilkington.
The music selection for this year’s Festival is a vital tribute to collaboration, curiosity and experimentation.
A highlight will be the Standard Bank Jazz Festival and the National Arts Festival presenting Afropoets, a one-night only (July 6) phenomenon, featuring the fresh sounds of Urban Village – folk music layered with electric, funk and traditional influences – collaborating with guitar master Madala Kunene.
They will be joined by The Brother Moves On, a South African performance art ensemble that critics have hailed as “the most important band in this country”, and the new face of Afro-folk, Bongeziwe Mabandla, who is effortlessly able to entwine iXhosa lyrics with traditional music and folk stylings to create something uniquely captivating.
………………………………………………………………….……………………………………………. BY BILLY SUTER
IF YOU were a regular fan of music and supper theatre in Durban in the ’80s and ’90s you are sure to recall Simon Pontin, a bassist who appeared in such shows as The Guitar That Rocked the World, Good Vibrations and The Piano Men. He also featured in popular bands including Urban Creep, Skin Trade and The Tim Wells Band.
So what became of the amiable musician? Well, it is good to report that he is alive and well, now 48, and has been living in Edinburgh in Scotland for the past decade, where he is making a living as a chef for event catering.
He is still dabbling in music – check out his two original albums, free, on the link below – and is also creating art these days, having attained a Higher Diploma in Fine Art: Painting from the then-Technikon Natal in Durban 1992.
It is his art that is highlighting Pontin again in Durban – he is visiting to present some of his paintings at an exhibition in Gillitts, where it will run concurrently with an exhibition of photographs by local DJ and photographer Manoj Budhu. The works will be on show from April 13 to 30 at The Old House Gallery, 19 Alexander Drive in Gillitts.
The Old House Gallery will be open from 10am until 6pm Monday to Friday. Private viewings can be arranged for serious buyers by special request.
Pontin says of his art: “My aim is to produce as much quality, experience-based artworks as possible.”
He adds: “ I loosely adhere to the principles of Transpersonal Art. I believe that art is, in its archetypal form, a means for man to transcend the obvious and the physical, manifesting the spiritual reality of the self.
“I believe that through the process of creating my work, and the materials and
meditation employed, a transmutation of substance occurs. This process is a spiritual journey, a process of cleansing and healing that even though mostly misunderstood by myself, leaves me with a sense of connection to the world around me, and a general feeling of well being.”
He describes his creative process as generally involving working on at least four to five artworks at one time, each piece evolving and interacting with
“Often smaller, individual pieces become incorporated into bigger pieces, resulting in multifacets of meaning and imagery. Some pieces evolve over many months, even years, the intentional ageing and deterioration of substances and materials manifesting the creative process over time.”
Of his original music, Pontin says :”My aim is to create music that is melodic and interesting, but at the same time, does not stick to any predetermined formula or style. For a full bio go to http://www.simonpontin.com.”
NOTE: Pontin’s two solo albums, produced in Edinburgh, are available by clicking here: http://www.reverbnation.com/sidetracksi
BILLY SUTER reports that former Durban bassist Simon Pontin, now based in Edinburgh as a chef, is back in South Africa and in the spotlight – this time with his art exhibition in Gillitts. … More Bassist, chef and painter…