Musings on art and life.
It’s kind of funny how a Google search for “art- Cape Town” brings back a pretty comprehensive list of galleries and artists (for example) , the likes of which were difficult to find when searching under Johannesburg. It’s funny, but not really surprising. Cape Town has long been an artist’s haven, with it’s beautiful beaches, unique flora, picturesque sunsets and wonderfully mysterious mountains.
I have some amazing memories from living in Cape Town, and looking back, it’s kind of hard to believe the amount that’s packed into those 7/8 years. We first lived in an area called Bergvliet, and I attended a school called Sweet Valley (true story). I have clear recollections of learning to roller blade, and riding my bike around tree lined streets with my friends during the short time we lived there. I then moved to Fish Hoek; where I quickly became enamoured with the mountains and the beach where I spend most of my free time, either doing lifesaving training, or hanging out with my friends. Long story short… This is the first time in my life I actually remember visiting an art gallery. Up to that point I had always had an interest in art, and I’d always enjoyed drawing, but here I seemed to receive more encouragement, and I even started doing art classes during the summer holidays.
The first gallery I clearly recall was showing work by Helen Martins, I think I must have been 12. (I thought I still had the catalogue, but a quick hunt this afternoon has proved otherwise.) Her work mesmerised me, and I’d always wanted to visit the “Owl House“, her home in the Karoo. She inherited the property from her parents and transformed it into her own wonderland using cement and broken glass. I had my own dreams of transforming part of my home by pressing shards of broken mirrors into the ceiling, just as she had (without the army of cement figures in the back garden) . Martin’s sculptures and interiors definitely helped spark my fascination with recycled, and re-purposed materials in art.
Hers is a very sad story, with a sorry end- she took her own life by swallowing caustic soda, but her transformed home remains as a testament to her creative and innovative nature. The play “The Road to Mecca“ written by Athol Fugard is based on Helen Martin’s life and explores the reality experienced by artists as “outsiders”.
Anyway, this is a blog about contemporary art, right? Okay. Back to it then…
John Meyer is a contemporary realist and landscape painter. His paintings often show the subjects in uncertain situations or, what he likes to call the “narrative genre”. He has exhibited all over the world since becoming a professional artist in 1972, and his subjects have included Nelson Mandela, FW de Klerk and concert pianist Vladimir Horowitz.
Donovan Ward’s art is somewhat tongue-in-cheek, using recognised art imagery from Renaissance artists such as Leonardo da Vinci and Raphael. Combining these with 21st century advertising and pop culture motifs, he creates a comment on contemporary life and culture and the competitive and fragmentary environment globalisation has created.
(None of these images are mine, and I shan’t be taking any credit for them. All images link directly back to the pages I found them on.)
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