Tuesday, 24 June 2008

Natura morta

The exhibition opens today!Therefore I thought it just fitting to include the art statement for the exhibition here:
[natura morta] - the moment before

The term still life in Italian is called natura morta, directly translated as dead nature. Andrè Bazin, a French critic of the late nineteenth century said photography is a medium which embalms [note the connection to the preservation of dead bodies] time rescuing it simply from its proper corruption. Within this statement he admitted that time is the great destroyer of life; time devours life (our mortal existence) and the medium of photography can rescue our frail memory from its hungry clutches.Photography as a medium can suspend the animation/motion picture of life into multiple separate still pictures, aiding us to choose a defining moment* to remember it by - that one image not tainted by time, free from disturbance, free from the corruption/corrosion of life & therefore free from life itself.
*Henri Cartier-Basson, a photographer, spoke of the true photographer’s ability to identify that decisive moment, but it also meant that the photographer had to be there before the moment - the moment before.
I will post news of the event next week.

Tuesday, 17 June 2008

Finish line

“If you hear a voice within you say "you cannot paint," then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced... / In spite of everything I shall rise again: I will take up my pencil, which I have forsaken in my great discouragement, and I will go on with my drawing.” Vincent van Gogh

I’m so glad I stumbled across a book that gave some sugarcoated advice on art and being an artist, but that’s not what released my gratefulness towards the author. The single line that stood out in the book, was that you should allow yourself to be a terrible artist first. So easily can creatively inclined individuals such as ourselves, get caught up in the mess to try and please the viewer first, to make them happy and therefore producing work which they approve of. I’ve seen so many crumble under that pressure and then rather not be an artist at all. They reckon if you can’t do it great the first time, then just leave it.

Countless times I have encountered linear thinkers who ask what I do or who I am, and when you reply you’re an artist/an illustrator/a photographer/a writer they ask but have you published anything, because if not then you’re not all or any of those mentioned above.
Many artists we admire today were only considered significant after their demise. We all love van Gogh, either secretly or openly, but I keep on thinking how his work went unnoticed during his lifetime. It must have been so strenuous to produce this wonderful art without support, acknowledgement or praise. But he called himself an artist even though no one else had the guts.

We have to find that belief and strength within ourselves when no one else will.
There is just one week left to prepare for the exhibition - one easily forgets how time consuming the final setup of the exhibition can be and enough space is of course always a headache.
But I love it! I love being considered as an artist, albeit a bad one, but one nonetheless. And maybe each experience will refine my skill and challenge my eye and then perhaps, one day, I’ll be a tant mieux artist.

Tuesday, 10 June 2008

The invite

On Friday I was lucky enough to be invited with a group of artists to paint with them on a secluded farm. I haven’t held a brush since last year, but accepted the invitation nonetheless. Now is probarly the best time as ever to confess that my primary goal wasn’t to produce a masterpiece during the day, but just be surrounded by other artists - and my little studio can get a little lonely sometimes. And I thought it might be a welcome break from my photographic exhibition preparations.
Artists are fascinating people. Whenever I can get hold of biographies of artists I devour it. Without trying to sound like a cliché, artists are just different - the way they think and approach life. They seem to experience life with such depth and intensity. I cannot help but think that they squeeze all the goodness out of what life has to offer us. It’s as though they have a secret garden within them.
We had wonderful weather, though the winter’s bite couldn’t be denied, the sun welcomed us during teatime. We painted, talked about art and life (which are intertwined anyway) and ate fresh fruit salad with guavas, mango’s, granadillas and oranges. Lunch consisted of green salad with broccoli, tomato and gerkins. Soup with mealie bread and hummus or liver paté. What a feast!
I felt like an Impressionist on a picnic!

Tuesday, 3 June 2008

Treasure - hidden & defined

My mother is a wonderful woman, and so wise. She always propagates the advantages of de-cluttering/spring cleaning/out-with-the-old, which to me sounds as throwing out, compartmentalising, discarding (I recount all the toys with sentimental value lying rejected somewhere in another kid’s room whom doesn’t have the same emotional attachment to it). But I’m afraid I have to admit she’s right, because a recent spring clean through my treasure chest of painting equipment and DIY gadgets led to the discovery of an unprocessed roll of black & white film.

It definitely felt as though I found a hidden treasure and I could barely contain my excitement and curiosity when I handed it in to be processed. The film was shot during my years as a student and even though a roll of film only contain 36 exposures, I recalled so many more pleasant memories.

I listened to a lecture on the ‘use’ of photography recently and that during the early years of the medium many were a bit confused as to what it could be used for or whether it replaces something like painting altogether/could it compete with painting? Some argued that photography should stay real, and portray only that which is real - thus functioning as documenting medium, fact finder. Others said that it is deceptive, cropping that only shows that which the photographer deemed important to tell the ‘story’ and in many cases actors were/are used. Early examples are of the war photography of America where bodies were dragged to be included in some compositions for more dramatic effect and think of the photos of the statue of Abraham Lincoln, where the different sources of light influenced the ‘image’ making him seem more determined and strong under certain light and frightened under another even though the statue inherently stays the same only the difference in light tells a different story each time.

Only grown-ups need to use things when it has a use, which to me was sufficient proof that I’m still not adult enough. Does it have to be defined and compared to a art medium such as painting which is even today not pinned down? Is that not the beauty of art? Why do we fool ourselves by thinking that a clear definition of something will grant it more use/value? I love the fact that photography can contain both fact and fiction, because the storytelling are in both. The same way that which is being explained visually in the picture is not only defined by what is there, but also that which is not. And everything of importance and value isn’t necessarily aesthetically defined, but the completion of its understanding is in what the viewer remembers.

People discuss my art and pretend to understand as if it were necessary to understand, when it's simply necessary to love.” Claude Monet, artist