The Association of Arts Pretoria celebrated World Art Day with their Engage II exhibition on 15 April 2013. It follows on their Engage I exhibition of last year.
The director of the gallery, Pieter van Heerden, welcomed the guests. “We, the art lovers and artists, belong to a world family and that is an exhilarating thought.”
“Last year we asked 15 sculptors and 15 painters to work together in groups of two in tandem to see if a ‘visual and intellectual synergy could be established’. It was a huge success and we decided to make our celebration of World Art day a annual institution.”
This year 46 artists worked together in groups of two to continue the experiment. Here follows the groups: André Prinsloo and Jahni Wasserfall; Rina Stutzer and Angus Taylor; Annelize Bowker and At Smit; Erna Bodenstein and Annette Pretorius; Anton Smit and Corné van Eck; Avitha Sooful and Linda du Preez; Craig Muller and Izanne Wiid; Rozan Cochrane and Daandrey Steyn; Debbie Cloete and Carroll Hamman; Martin de Kock and Erica Schoeman; Frikkie Eksteen and Bevan Thornton; Johan Conradie and Zelda Stroud; Diek Grobler and Karin Smith; Amelia Malatjie and Lwandiso Njara; Celia de Villiers and Elfriede Dreyer; Retha Buitendach and Marinda du Toit; Tanisha Bhana and Uwe Pfaff; Wilma Cruise and Karin Lijnes; Magda Joubert and Zach Taljaard; Christiaan Diedericks and Johann Nortjé; Alet Swarts and Michaella Jansen van Vuuren; Monica-Helena de Klerk and Malose Pete; and Peter Binsbergen and Andre Otto.
Background of WAD
In 2011 the International Arts Association (IAA) unanimously proclaimed the 15th of April as World Art Day. In 2012 the first WAD were celebrated.
“The idea behind the World Art Day is to help spread ‘art awareness’ throughout the globe. The day is to underline the importance and value of art regarding world peace, fraternity, freedom of expression and multi-disciplinary dialogue.” (World Art Day, 2013)
The date is also significant because it falls on Leonardo Da Vinci’s birthday.
“Leonardo’s stature as painter, sculptor, writer, engineer, innovator, mathematician and philosopher still remains a guiding light in our contemporary world.” (Press release)
Pieter van Heerden introduced Prof. Ronel Rensburg, an international academic, as “truly also a Renaissance person.”
Prof Ronel Rensburg explains the theme “Engage”
“My field of experties lies in communication and that is why the word ‘engagement’ rang true to me. Why do we engage and what is engagement?
We engage by incorporating and communicating art experiences. The message of art can be communicated through art objects and even across time.
The value of art in general or any particular art object can change from space to space, place to place and time to time.
We can also engage by means of social commentary… Through their art, artists are speaking to social change and bringing about public awareness of a variety of social, political and environmental issues.” Rensburg referred to the Spear painting as an example of debating and engaging.
We can engage through our senses: all five of the human senses (and sometimes the sixth).
Art can bring people together. Art more than often leaves us in awe. All art must engage!
Prof Ronel Rensburg opened the art exhibition with these words: “I entice you to engage with one another, with the artists, with their work and your own senses to enjoy the oppulence of South African art.”
Some of the collaborations
Tanisha Bhana in collaborartion with Uwe Pfaff:
Tanisha’s work called “Mortal Remains (1)” contrasts between things that are living and dead. “The geckos and the doll are dead. The rose petals are in the process of dying. The reflections in water of the trees: they’re symbols of living things. The doll is a commentary on the masks we wear everyday.”
Uwe Pfaff’s explanation of his work: “striking the metal man ‘future tense’ with a metallic object will release. That sound which we hear, not recognise and connects in a unique way of Tanisha’s work.”
Debbie Cloete in collaboration with Carroll Hamman:
Carroll Hamman explains her sculpture of the priest and the prostitute entitled Nothing is as it seems: “Usually people think of priests as good. I wanted to show that priests aren’t always good. That’s why the priest is painted in black.” It comments on the fact that we put so much trust in an uniform, but we forget that inside every uniform is a human being struggling with all the same issues thrown at us.
Debbie Cloete’s speech bubbles entitled It is what it is relates to the marriage equality debate that is currently so prevalent in the media. “Marriage equality should not even be a debate, it is what it is, a human right”.
Photos of other collaborations:
The Association of Arts Pretoria is a voluntary non-profit organisation. It is governed by an executive committee, members of which include well-known artists, art teachers and academics and patrons of art. Director: Pieter van Heerden. Gallery manager: Nandi Hilliard.
It has more than 800 members and is one of the founding members of the South African National Association for the Visual Arts (SANAVA). SANAVA is a member of the IAA.
The exhibition will run until Friday 26 April 2013.
A group of young, talented artists came together to show their interpretations of Ezekiel 37 which was the theme of the alternative Art of Breathing exhibition.
They showcased their interpretations through any medium they could find: photographs, paintings, poetry, performance art (fire dancing), sculptures, music and even a bizarre short film.
Ezekiel 37 is set in a valley of bones seen in a vision by Ezekiel. God asks Ezekiel: “Son of man, can these bones live?” He answers that only God knows. God commands him to prophesy over the bones: the bones come alive with flesh and sinews and God breathes life into them. (King James version)
The following artists: Xenia Roos, Ancois Barnard, Louise du Plessis, Ingrid van der Merwe, Juanrie Ferreira, Walter and Zoe van Zyl, Jaques Malan, Donné Malan, Martin Gouws, Annari du Plessis, Franci Dorfling and Jandré Brink works’ were arranged throughout the hall lit by candlelight. Their artworks look deeper and cuts to the core.
The artists are from a very close-knit group of friends that makes up some parts of the alternative community in Hatfield. They previously contributed to two Art of Breathing booklets and they decided to host an exhibition for the third installment.
The art exhibition were held at the New Church right across from the Sheraton Hotel in Wessels Street on Saturday 6 July. Guests were greeted by Louise du Plessis and Ross Pickersgill’s fire dancing at the entrance. They twirled lighted staffs around and Louise further wowed the crowd with her fire breathing skills. She has been doing it for the last 3 years – even at some weddings! They also did some poi with their chain toy creation. (Poi is a form of dance where weights on the end of thethers are swung through rhythmical patterns).
I talked to some of the artists to hear the stories behind their art:
Xenia Roos made a statue of bones with the words of Jeremiah 20:9 carved into the bone “And I can’t stop! For if I say I’ll never again mention the Lord – never more speak in his name – then his word in my heart is like fire that burns in my bones, and I can’t hold it in any longer.” (The Living Bible). The Word that God spoke to each and everyone of us – that Word will be like a fire that burns in your bones and I won’t be able to keep it quiet any longer.
Ancois’s Performance art
At first glance her artwork looks like a random array of newspapers stuck over each other. When I asked her to explain her artwork to me, she ripped off a piece of newspaper. I was puzzled. She then explained that the newspapers symbolises the masks she wears and that God comes and rips it off to reveal the true “Ancois” he made. Her inspiration is from where the angel of God asks Jacob “What is your name?” so as if to say: Are you ready to be the person I wanted you to be? “My artwork symbolises the process of God that rips off the masks and asks me ‘Am I ready to be the person he planned out for me to be?’”
With every piece of newspaper that is ripped away a piece of a self portrait is revealed.
Ancois was also responsible for a series of photographs and sketches of the heart. “The 120 Black and White Film photos are to show how the face of the church has changed. That even the alternative community should awaken and follow Him, said Barnard.
“The hearts entitled Awakening of emotions tells my story of how my heart was in pieces and I couldn’t feel a thing. God came to give me a new heart to beat for Him. With the new heart I can truly love people and find joy in the smaller things in life,” she added.
Ingrid van der Merwe:
This person or skeleton in the picture “is a preacher who practises fire baptism: baptising people with fire like Jesus did, but only after his own flesh is burned away it reveals his true or God’s nature. He is more alive with bones than with flesh. The dark cloud symbolises God that usually uses this disguise to reveal Himself to his people.”
“When I did the research on my piece I came upon other verses related to the theme of Ezekiel 37. I especially focussed on Proverbs 17:22 “A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones” (King James version). The oil painting is about we as human beings that chase after idols in our search for happiness, but it leaves us burnt out. We seek happiness. The bones in the desert shows that if we praise God even in the hardest times – only then we can heal and become whole again.”
Annari du Plessis: jewelry stand. Some of the jewelry parts are inside pieces of watches. She started making jewelry in August last year when she couldn’t find work. She makes everything by herself and enjoys every second of it.
Some satire can be found in the works of Jacques Malan: especially in his work entitled “Cheesus Christ”. (photo caption)
Donné explains the three figures in her artwork as such:
The woman in the foreground resembles a perfect human being, but without God’s breath, her flesh is dead. The second figure receives the breath from the heavens and starts to move. The third figure shows her fulfillment with God: she reigns over the flesh (the body).
Zoe van Zyl
Zoe is responsible for the most artworks of the evening: she submitted poetry, paintings and sculptures. Her personal favourite artwork is called Water of life. She wanted to show the irony that while the man is in the desert and thirsting for water – by ripping his chest open blood and water spills out of him. He had water in him all along. She links it to when Jesus was crucified on the cross and the soldier pierced his side with a spear: “blood and water flowed out”. (John 19:34)
The short film was not for the faint-hearted (or easily upset stomachs). It shows a family sitting down for dinner. Their eyes are covered with a sort of putty mix. They start feasting on rotten fruit and decayed flesh, drinking something that resembles blood. Someone brings a platter of fresh food, but they reject it. One of the eaters starts to throw up and the others shout angrily at him. The film ends where he pulls the putty off of his eyes.
The film features the talents of Anneke van Blerk, Gerhard Jacobs, Ingrid van der Merwe, Walter van Zyl and Reep the rat.
“We were blind for four straight hours during the making of the film,” said Gerhard Jacobs.
When asked after the screening, Walter van Zyl (who came up with the concept) explains that the rotten food are symbols for all the lies we are fed by the world system and its authority figures: ranging from teachers, preachers in the church and political figures. Because the family are blind, they cannot see the lies they are fed. They also cannot see the fresh food (the truth) and so they reject it. The film shows the process of becoming aware of this fact (through Walter’s character) where he starts to throw up. The people screaming at him resembles the authority figures that eats up their own lies.
There is somewhat of a happy ending: the rat featured in the film got a home. Walter and Zoe decided to adopt him.
Walter’s other artworks included a poem and a statue. The statue resembles a human body is the humans that live like robots: we get up, we eat, work, go to sleep. The statue is undergoing an operation. The mechanical parts are removed and the body receives a new heart. The statue shows how we regain our humanity by receiving a new heart in Jesus Christ.
The guests could enjoy wine, bread, cupcakes while being in deep conversation pondering over the artworks.
Art of breathing originally started out as a booklet, a publication within which various artistic treasures could be found; initializing a multifarious collection by diverse artists. Since it’s birth, two of these booklets have been put together: Art of Breathing 1 & 2.
A DVD will be compiled consisting of videos, music and art from the exhibition, that will feature in the third Art of Breathing #3 design.