“Only Jesus can be naked on the cross. You can’t do that to President Zuma…an insensitive creation by a white person”.” ( Barend La Grange, vandal of Murray artwork)
Well, with so many interesting debates going on about censorship, racism, cultural ethics and the nature and purpose of art, who has time to worry about unfinished paintings?
I have thrown this topic into numerous lunch and dinner conversations, and am always delighted at the way it gets everyone hot under the collar! No more talk about the weather and the price of petrol!
Real thinking required 🙂
Please feel free to leave comments and engage with this fascinating debate! I personally go with Mike van Graans review of Brett Murray’s entire exhibition “Hail to the Thief”
Interesting/informative links discussing the Zuma Spear Controversy..:
My development as an artist features several influential artists, the most instrumental among them my painting lecturer Johann Louw. During the two years that he guided my student efforts, I learnt how to handle criticism, believe in my style, and to know what great painting looks like by his example. Plus he was funny, in a dada kind of way as we often didn’t get his humour…only now do I fully appreciate his quirky and irreverent character!
He has since achieved international success, with a string of solo shows at leading South African Galleries, as well as shows in New York, Germany, and Australia. His paintings are powerful and layered statements , impacting on many psychological and emotional levels. I find them hypnotic, disturbing, mind-altering- a great muse!!
All images copyright Johann Louw
Now why doesn’t the art community have a cool challenge like NaNoWriMo? The BBF (best boyfriend forever), alternating between elation and anxiety about his first ever NaNo, starting Tuesday, got me evaluating my work modus operandi: Time in The studio somehow always lands up last on the list, and I have plenty of very good justifications for this! Oh yessir, no-one could fault me for being handicapped by the Great Three- lack of time, energy, and finances. Watertight alibi. Yet something about the excited collective spirit and the supportive vibe among the writing community I’m witnessing second-hand has infected my busy, mostly art-free little world. What the heck, if you guys can, so can I! And yes, I know that writing about 1700 words on a daily basis is probably much more challenging than getting down some drawing or painting , but relativity is a wonderful thing. If I manage to match this schedule I will be achieving the impossible…so here’s the deal: For every daily quota of words I’ll equal at least one drawing or painting, editing optional 😉 .From the first of November to the thirtieth of November. Any artists out there care to join, bring it on! Any writers need visual inspiration, feel free to browse my hopefully prolific output!
“Lüderitz Jetty” Oil on board copyright Silke Berens
Last week, after having watched the stirring BBC documentary on Picasso’s Guernica, one of my more intense young men in the Visual Articulation and Drawing course at university (UNAM) had a seeming epiphany. Eyes all fiery with indignation at the injustices committed by man against man (and woman and child), he voiced his determination to create Art with a Purpose. But a few minutes into the discussion about art, politics and Modernism, he visibly faltered in his resolve, tripped up by the concept of Beauty: How do I know something is beautiful? And can I make something that is both beautiful, and has the power to change people’s perceptions? How can people like and buy art that I consider bad?
To fully appreciate this situation, you must know that most of the students in this Visual Arts department come from a dysfunctional third world schooling system, and struggle to write and speak more than a pretty basic English. How they gain admittance to a tertiary educational institution is a mystery to me. But hey, this is Africa. We wing it mostly, we’re dismally short on good museums and galleries, and when kids show determination and a willingness to work, we are excited and grateful.
Well, it got interesting. For a generation whose role models are Rihanna (yes, the US of A is ever present even in deepest Africa), Kanye West, and hip hop culture, it’s a stretch of the imagination to appreciate, let alone understand, the twists and turns of art history. And when we get to Picasso’s mangled forms, they find it hard to reconcile their standardized cultural tastes with such aberration. Yet Guernica managed to get under some skins, especially since the history of Namibia and South Africa is not short of injustices of many kinds…
Eventually we agreed that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, yet truly great art transcends subjective taste and achieves value beyond aesthetic achievement. I’ll spare you the long of it, as it’s a discussion I believe that can last a lifetime. What excites me is that this young student- hopefully multiples of him or her- cannot now go back to his previous views on the world and art, and more specifically, the purpose of his art. He must move forward from this point, and I’m proud and moved that I was around when he woke up.
What is your take on this topic? All comments welcome…
I’ll keep you posted on the young revolutionary’s progress 😉
Info about Guernica: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guernica_(painting)