SANAVA promotes visual arts, develops visual artists and furthers international cooperation in the field of the visual arts Newsletter Nº
August 2014
03
 
"We have a good thing" - SANAVA president

South Africans are famous for their cultural diversity. They are crazy, sport-minded, stubborn, pioneering, violent, friendly, artistic, warm and hospitable. Their complexities and contradictions and those of the environment are endless. One of SANAVA's hopes is to encourage art lovers and artists to venture out of their comfort zones and start appreciating more about each other's art.

All our members are aware of SANVA's biggest benefit, ie the art residency at the Cité International des Arts in Paris. However, SANAVA is also investigating local opportunities for artists' retreats where artists can get down to some serious art-making. We will keep you posted.

Someone asked me recently what they pay me to promote SANAVA. SANAVA is run entirely by the efforts and enthusiasm of devoted art lovers. The executive members do not get remunerated - they don't even receive an honorarium. We do pay for the services of a professional secretariat, Junxion Communications, who are experts in public relations. Funding is at random.

I am only mentioning this to say that we believe we have a good thing and we are eager to hear about the good things happening in your area. I wish to encourage all our SANAVA member branches and affiliates to send us snippets of the artistic highlights at their branches. What is, for example, happening on the West Coast or in the Northern Cape or in Limpopo?

And what's more, we would like to spread the SANAVA message to all your members swiftly and speedily. Like some branches and affiliates have already done, if you share your members' e-mail addresses with our secretariat, they will happily distribute, for example, SANAVA Matters, to them – with the press of a button, taking the burden off you. Talk to Ben at Junxion Communications on 082 551 4853 and forward the address database to ben@junxionpr.co.za. We will not abuse the information but purely use it to advance the distribution of information to the benefit of you and SANAVA.

Until next time
Dirkie
 
Get art wise at the Stellenbosch University's creative workshops

Want to learn about bookbinding, children's book illustration, etching, silver jewellery design and manufacture – and many more, the creative workshops at the Stellenbosch University's Visual Arts Department is the place to be.

The workshops take place from 8 to 12 September. By enrolling for a variety of short courses the public can make use of the arts department's infrastructure as well as its teaching skills.

Experienced arts practitioners will facilitate the workshops, ensuring quality instruction.

All the courses are introductory, but can also be attended by artists who wish to become acquainted with new disciplines. A total of ten participants per course ensure special attention to each individual. Courses are offered only if at least four participants are registered for a particular course.

The duration of each workshop is five days and the cost includes about 30 hours of teaching, practical work and outings where necessary. On Friday afternoon, 12 September, there will be an exhibition of work completed during the week. Friends and family can join for a glass of wine. Each participant will then also receive a certificate of participation endorsed by the Visual Arts Department.

Courses and costs:
Bookbinding - R3 000
Children's book illustration - R3 000
Etching - R3 000
Silver jewellery design and manufacture - R3 000
Elementary digital photography - R3 000
Painting - R3 000
Botanical illustration - R2 500
Book restoration for beginners - R3 000

Choose one of the above, or if you are interested in a discipline not mentioned, send us a request – we might be able to offer it too.

Current and former students of the department pay R2 500 per course (botanical illustration – R2 000). Materials are not included – participants need to bring their own or it is supplied at extra cost by the facilitator.

Visit www.cciba.sun.ac.za and for details click on Creative Workshops and then on the course of your choice, or visit our Facebook page - Centre for Comic, Illustrative and Book Arts. A registration form with particulars regarding payment can also be downloaded from this website. Register as soon as possible to ensure participation.

All the courses are offered at the Visual Arts Building, Victoria Street, Stellenbosch. Guest houses offer special rates for participants from far. Please enquire if you need accommodation.

For more information or a registration form contact Marika Bell at 083 680 2057, 021 886 9271, mbell@iafrica.com.
 
Jeanne Kotzé-Louw - Radio Therapy, Pretoria Academic Hospital (1991)
Hamba kahle Jeanne

Jeanne Kotzé-Louw - 9 January 1929 to 11 August 2014

It is with sadness that the Association of Arts Pretoria learnt of the peaceful passing-away of artist, art teacher and our honorary member, Jeanne Kotzé-Louw, at the age of 85 years on 11 August, after some years of debility.

Jeanne was an eminent artist who made a definite mark in South African art circles. She obtained her BA (FA) honours, Cum Laude at the University of Natal, and during the 50's she spent nine years in Positano, Italy, where she practiced and taught art at the School of Rome.

Back in South Africa, she brought exceptional skills in the tradition of the ancient Ravenna mosaics with her and completed remarkable works in public buildings. She excelled as a graphic artist and painter and her bold and colourful landscapes, still lives, portraits and sketches with their poetic and harmonious qualities won a wide appeal. She is fondly remembered by her students at the University of Pretoria where she was a popular art instructor for two decades.

We express our sincere condolences with her family, her friends and Pieter van Heerden, our director, who for the last years took her under his constant care.

Dr Piet Muller
Chairman
Association of Arts Pretoria
 
"Art had a pivotal role to play in the radical economic transformation of the country" – Mthethwa.
Arts department invests in local talent

The Department of Arts and Culture will launch a Venture Capital Fund to invest in the growth of artists.

"This is an area where private capital feels there is too much risk, so the government must play a role in decreasing this risk, which ultimately benefits the artist to be more sustainable," says Arts and Culture Minister Nathi Mthethwa.

Mthethwa said at the recent annual Business Day BASA Awards his department was looking at establishing creative arts incubators.

"We shall also be engaging the Davis Tax Committee to give input on the tax incentives that would allow business to continue contributing to the arts, while seeing tangible economic benefits trickling down to artists. Without artists we would have no art to appreciate, to inspire us or to invest in," he said.

"Arts had a pivotal role to play in the radical economic transformation of the country as creative activities created jobs, small business opportunities and provided security. Arts play a role to support the economy, tourism, social capital, nation building and social cohesion," the minister said.

SANAVA Matters welcomes the establishment of such a fund. In the July edition of SANAVA Matters National President Dirkie Offringa mentioned that "Although the Department of Arts and Culture is not involved in the capacity building of art museums funded by local government, it is looking at options to strengthen the acquisitions capacity of municipal art museums to attract, for example, external funding." She was right.
 
Lifetime achievement award to Natalie Knight

Well-known curator Natalie Knight received a lifetime achievement award for arts and culture in South Africa at the recent annual awards ceremony for the Most Influential Women in Business and Government in Africa.

Natalie shared the stage with other achievers like Yvonne Chaka Chaka, who has been at the forefront of South African popular music for more than 20 years, Prof Carolina Koornhof, Dean of the Faculty of Economic Management Sciences and Executive Director: Finance at the University of Pretoria and Dr Snowy Khoza, Chief Executive Officer of leading infrastructure development company Bigen Africa.

Other receivers of the award are Dr Elmin Steyn, Head of the Christiaan Barnard Memorial Hospital Trauma Unit who's special interests are trauma and transplant surgery and intensive care and Dr Esper Ncube, an environmentalist and water quality specialist at Rand Water.

Natalie's is a huge honour, so well deserved! Everyone who has had the privilege of working with Natalie has witnessed her commitment, integrity and energy. Through the many exhibitions and educational projects that Natalie has curated, her historical indigenous art collections and publications, her courage, generosity and humility in her support of others shines through.
 
Richmond hosts OPENlab 2014

Richmond in the Karoo was a hive of activity when participants in the inaugural OPENLab 2014 - a new national laboratory for early and mid-career artists and creative practitioners interested in making art in the public realm – descended on the small town in the Northern Cape recently.

Hosted by Map (Modern art projects) - South Africa, brain child of Harrie Siertsema, well-known South African art supporter, initiated by the Vryfestival and the University of the Free State and funded by the Australia Council for the Arts and the National Lottery Distribution Fund, OPENLab 2014 saw 15 of the nation's top experimental artists participating.

Adri Herbert, Director of the Vryfestival, says OPENLab is a unique national opportunity for practitioners working in dance, visual arts, performance art, architecture, fashion, new media, sound art and design.

"They explore new approaches to site-based practices across different communities, disciplines and geographical contexts. There was a very high calibre of applicants and we are proud to have initiated this inaugural lab in partnership with the University of the Free State."

Harrie Siertsema, Director of Map-South Africa says "We were delighted to have such an extraordinary and diverse group of practitioners in town, and have been incredibly surprised by the vibrant, experimental play that is taking place.

"We are sure this will impact on the future of art practice in South Africa in a significant way."

OPENLab Coordinating Facilitator Paul Gazzola says: '15 years ago I had the privilege of spending three months on an artists' exchange in Johannesburg, Durban and Cape Town.

"This time was highly formative in developing my artistic practice that seeks to explore themes of people, place and the creation of works within diverse communities and cultures. Coming back in the role of coordinating facilitator was a great opportunity to continue these explorations in dialogue with the extraordinary South African participants and facilitators involved."

What did participants say?

Sonia Radebe, dancer, teacher and choreographer from Diepsloot, Johannesburg - " I have realised that the process that one goes through in this kind of work allows the creator and performers to be knowledgeable about the space, the texture, the history or story it is telling on its own, and how they need to inform each other. So the space is living as much as the performers."

Wayne Reddiar, an interactive media arts practitioner from Durban -
'I make work where a social condition and environment intersect. This is often done both independently but also with collaborative partners.'

Participating artists were Elgin Rust, Francois Knoetze, Gavin Krastin, Lesiba Mabitsela, Nadja Daehnke, Roxy Kawitsky, Sethembile Msezane and Siphumeze Khundayi from Cape Town.

From Johannesburg Kira Kemper, Phumulani Ntuni, Sandile Radebe and Sonia Radebe participated.

Adelheid von Maltitz came from Bloemfontein, Nieke Lombaard from Bloemfontein/Cape Town and Wayne Reddiar from Durban.
 
Heidi Erdmann features in House and Leisure

SANAVA affiliate member Heidi Erdmann of The Photographers' Gallery ZA & Erdmann Contemporary has her say in the current issue of House and Leisure. Featuring in the Trends section – Art and Smart - she shares her knowledge and love of art.

Read the article published in House and Leisure.
 
Parisians seek internships with SANAVA

Two students, Maxime Gueudet and Camille Neyton of Sciences Po Paris, the French university for political sciences and humanity studies, are seeking internships with SANAVA.

"We belong to the art association of Sciences Po and have organised multiple events in Paris, including jam, concerts and student evenings. We have also created a multicultural blog (L'Artichaut) that capitalizes more than 3 000 readers monthly and we have already done a dozen interviews with renowned artists. We are also responsible for a web TV within this blog and we host a radio show on the student radio. So, we know how to organize a plan of financing or communication and interact with different cultural actors.

Read their CVs to see if you can offer an internship opportunity.

"In addition, we have participated this summer in the organization of a travelling artistic festival through the France Satourne and been volunteers in two music festivals. These different experiences have made us pretty familiar with the 'festival format'.

"As we took several courses on the subject, as well as experiencing it in the associative experience, we are familiar to the artistic funding system.

"We are really motivated and interested in working at SANAVA as we enjoy working in an artistic environment – and we are highly educated and organized."
 
Are you living the SANAVA brand?

Following a decision at the Annual General Meeting, SANAVA branches and affiliates can now also apply for SANAVA signage at their offices. For specifications and artwork contact the secretariat at 082 551 4853, e-mail ben@junxionpr.co.za. Read more
 
EXCLUSIVE
South Africa's unsung artist Herman van Nazareth

Did you know Herman was born as Herman van Aerde in Evergem in the Belgian Province of East Flanders in 1936? He turns 80 in two years' time. Arguably South Africa's unsung hero, Dirkie Offringa spoke to this interesting man who sees himself as a native of South Africa.

You grew up in trying economic times during the interwar years – why did you choose art as a profession?

I was introduced to art only at the age of 25. Up until then I had earned a living by, among other things, being a truck driver and a baker – and I had also shown promise as a competitive cyclist. I had to give up cycling after an accident which left me with a fingerless right hand.

Since I was a novice as far as the arts were concerned, one could almost say that serendipity played a role in my subsequent career as an artist.

One day I accompanied a friend who was to sit for an artist, the Ghent painter and sculptor Bert de Clerck. I was given charcoal and paper to draw to while away the time. De Clerck, and I was surprised at the result, and I was encouraged to develop my obvious raw talent.

What happened then – academically speaking?

In 1961 and 1962 I studied at the Royal Academy of Art in Ghent and the Royal Academy of Art in Antwerp in 1963. You know me, I was a headstrong student who did not take kindly to instruction. In Antwerp I spent six months as an assistant in the studio of the well-known painter Floris Jespers, who was wise enough not to instruct me, but to allow me to choose the guidelines I wanted to follow.

Jespers, as well as my sculptor brother Oscar, were influenced by European expressionism which flourished in the interwar years, as well as by the indigenous art they saw on their visit to the then Belgian Congo.

Was I influenced? Possibly. My earliest paintings were simple stylised objects, almost naïve, often dark and heavily painted. Furthermore, the work of Constant Permeke, an outstanding Belgian painter of the 20th century, who painted colossal and strong figures with vigorous brush strokes and whose landscapes were sombre, probably struck a chord with me.

When did you exhibit for the first time?

In Ghent in a group show in 1962. My first solo was the next year in Deurle near the village where I rented a cottage. My friends subsequently called me van Nazareth – the name stuck!

Aspects of my early work are still characteristic of my present style - the use of lacquer, the application of thin layers of paint that often reveal the base or ground colour, and the use of subtle colour harmonies and simple yet expressive compositions – I believe that is me!

How did you land in South Africa?

Early in 1965 I was on my way to South Africa to attend a friend's wedding. I learnt about the death of Winston Churchill, and this inspired my first painting done in South Africa, namely Bloedroem.

I arrived in Cape Town harbour with two suitcases, one filled with paints. I found accommodation in a monastery where a fellow Belgian, Father Frans Claerhout, was residing. He went on to become a popular South African artist. On my first evening I met three prominent South African literary figures, the publisher Daantjie Saayman, the author Jan Rabie and the young poet Ingrid Jonker. With Ingrid I got on particularly well – I taught her to paint and she taught me about poetry.

In July I used my free ticket to travel to East London for my friend's wedding. But the ride was so boring that halfway there I got out and started hitch-hiking – and missed the wedding!

Going back to Cape Town I learnt that Ingrid had committed suicide – I was devastated! To lift my spirits, Lippy Lipshitz, sculptor and lecturer at the University of Cape Town's Michaelis School of Fine Art, suggested that I try my hand at sculpture.

Devastation turned to inspiration and within a week I was given the key to the Michaelis studio where I then spent most of my time. However, because I used so much bronze for all the work I was turning out, that privilege was revoked!

And you stayed on?

Yes, to continue my studies at the Michaelis School of Fine Art. I later received a grant under a Belgian-South African agreement. Students were required to wear a tie to class – can you imagine! Probably as a result of my resistance, that requirement was abolished within two weeks! Painters Carl Buchner and Maurice van Essche lectured at the school, but I spent much of my time in the library to try and avoid conventional lessons.

Tell us about those early years

On my first day in Cape Town I bought canvases at the gallery of Joe Wolpe in Hoop Street and painted Bloedroem in four days. It was exhibited at the Fifth Cape Salon in August 1965 and awarded a student prize. This I could not accept because I was not a registered student. The prize went to Peggy Delport.

Bloedroem was subsequently included in a group exhibition, and was also shown at the Belgian Consulate in Cape Town. At this exhibition Herman included a painting titled Die Kind (The Child) that had been inspired by an Ingrid Jonker poem. This painting can be regarded as visionary in view of the events that occurred later during the dark years of apartheid in South Africa.

How did the world of 'professional art' come about for you?

My first studio was in Long Street in Cape Town. I sold small paintings at Ashbeys, and was surprised when one morning art collector Dr Helmut Silberberg offered to buy eleven of my paintings. Although they each made their own prices, these differed by only about ten percent. I was never without money and was soon able to acquire my first property in South Africa.

The sixties were years of youth rebellion all over the world. My mentor, South African philologist and art collector Prof J du P Scholtz once wrote that it was in the Cape where my early bitter memories of the war in Belgium and the new, perhaps stifling, environment in South Africa found sudden expression in biting social comment and intense criticism of all abuse of power and arrogance. He was right.

I was not a forerunner of the political protest art that dominated South African art in the 1980s and early 1990s. I believe my early satirical work, such as Bloedroem, was reminiscent of the satirical writings, like Animal farm by the English author George Orwell depicted a dehumanizing totalitarian society.

What did art critics say in the 1960s and 1970s about the contribution Herman made to South African art?

In the Cape Argus of 17 September 1965, art critic Neville Dubow writes a review captioned "Urgent cry in age of angst", in which he describes Herman as pre-eminently a painter of disturbing presences which loom out of the dark, grittily coagulated surfaces of his pictures.

"Herman's images depict the facelessness of a neurotic age, as well as subjects that have fallen prey to an underlying angst (fear). I recognise a feeling of northern expressionism that runs through Herman's work."

South African art critic Johan van Rooyen writes in the Cape Times of 5 May 1967 about the lack of anguish but the rawness of vision in Herman's paintings, and also his pre-occupation with the sombre aspects of life.

"On the other hand, the simple horizontal compositions of his landscapes display dramatic explorations in which the influence of Constant Permeke's art is discernible. The diminished scale of Van Nazareth's paintings makes for greater subtlety yet potent expressiveness, with tension created solely through the use of colour."

He also comments on the unusual figures that Herman showed at the Wolpe Gallery in Cape Town in November 1967. These had been inspired by the annual carnival in the Netherlands and Belgium, during which animal and devil masks and costumes are worn, among other things, to drive away the devil.

An article in the Cape Argus of 27 November 1967 titled "Herman van Nazareth – a bomb at complacency" by Neville Dubow, states, "Herman van Nazareth is concerned with power, with how it corrupts, with the facelessness of those who wield it and the mindlessness of those who put up with it".

We in South Africa would come to know the real meaning of his words and their relevance to our country even today.

Eldred Green writes in the Cape Argus of 3 Aug 1971 about the "Chairman of the Board ... clad expensively in blue raiment beneath a countenance mottled by the best of old brandy". Green goes on to describe Van Nazareth's three landscapes as "... among the finest produced at the Cape since the war".

In another review in the Cape Argus of 13 May 1972, Owen Williams writes about Herman van Nazareth's "new fields in art" and he observes that "His landscapes have become soft and glowing and he has developed a marked talent to evoke the magic of flesh in a series of huge female nudes, which positively burn with sensuality".

In 1974, South African painter and critic Anna Vorster, in the Cape Argus of 16 May, describes Herman's paintings exhibited at the Gallery International in Cape Town as "... beautiful surfaces, haunting works ... The heads are archetypical portraits which seem to exist in infinite space like icons ... The austerity and pitiless severity of Van Nazareth's early heads and figures, painted and sculpted, may indicate anguish and menace but they can also stand as bold sculptural forms, shapes sharing the viewer's space or aesthetically activating the environment".

South African resonance

Herman van Nazareth is a South African artist. He studied here and contributed to the development of a new and modern idiom in South African art. From the day he arrived in South Africa, his work has been influenced by this land. His work is represented in many corporate and public art collections in this country and his name is proudly included in catalogues of national exhibitions. He exhibited at the 1969 Quinquennial of South African Art and the 1971 Republic Festival Exhibition. Furthermore, he represented South Africa at the 1971 Sao Paulo Biennial, and was given a prestige show at the Pretoria Art Museum in 1976.

Esmé Berman, in the first comprehensive tome on South African art history, Art and Artists of South Africa, mentions Herman van Nazareth as an artist who helped shape South African art and who worked here as an artist until the 1980s. Although he now lives in Belgium, he regularly returns to South Africa where he lives and works in Jakkalsfontein, near Yzerfontein, on the West Coast.

Strictly speaking, Van Nazareth cannot be classified as a South African resistance artist as his imagery, despite its biting satirical comment, is not overtly political. Although he abhorred apartheid and was intensely aware of social conditions in this country, his subjects do not comment directly on the South African struggle. He deals with universal issues rather than with particular problems. His heads and figures, in particular, defiantly render scathing social comment, and his early brooding landscapes are heavy with foreboding.

The artist's exposure to the horrors of the Second World War and to European liberalism led to his feelings of aversion to the abuse of power and to any kind of inhumanity. His experience of a free socio-political discourse on international art influenced his strong points of view about supremacy and power-mongering. He was one of the very first in the late 1960s to be called a protest or a satirical artist. However, his imagery is universal, and the message of his faceless, sombre, lumpy brutes (according to art critic Melvyn Minnaar in the Cape Times of 2 Feb 2005) is as potent and relevant today, even in a democratic society, as it was in the mid-1960s. Herman's subjects portray the timeless principle that if power is abused and if power cannot be dealt with, freedom cannot be dealt with either.

Many people would describe Herman van Nazareth as an adversary and an antagonist who is resistant in the sense of remaining impervious to mere politics, changing powers and fickleness. Nevertheless, he is critical and outspoken about art, in particular about the lack of attention being paid to "real art" in South Africa and about the abundance of art galleries for pretty pictures. He is almost obsessive about getting his art right, and he detests bad quality of any kind and everything that is facile and superficial. Guarding the integrity of his own art is of the utmost importance to him, and, if he is convinced that the standard of an art exhibition is not on par, he would rather remove his paintings from the wall, like he did in 1969 at the Quinquennial of South African Art in Cape Town, than mislead the public and create false values. His punch is direct; he challenges complacency and smugness and does not suffer fools gladly. In this regard Melvyn Minnaar calls him an artist of rugged power whose "... forcefulness in appearance and temperament was often a prickly presence in the smoochy art establishment" (Minnaar, Cape Times, 9 November 2004).

Whereas Van Nazareth's early paintings are painterly, the small landscapes he later painted in South Africa are minimalist, the paint applied in thin subtle hues. In the South African landscape (the wide, open, arid spaces of the Karoo and the spectacular, diverse scenery of the West Coast) Van Nazareth found beautiful contrasts of red and green, blue and brown, and sulphur and lilac. These colours lend a special kind of chromatic energy to his South African landscapes.

His later series of heads are even more minimalistic than his landscapes – black paint on brown, unprimed board. More recently he has returned to painting heads which are eloquent and, for many, characteristic of his oeuvre. This time they are even more reduced – white crayon on black painted board, shoulders and head drawn in a single line. His minimalist heads relate to his earlier simplified nudes in the sense that they do not conform to ideal proportions but are an end in itself. To the artist, a nude or a head is a shape which is good in itself and which is the source of independent plastic construction – the character of the shape resides in the means. Yet there is sensuousness and enjoyment in the surface and one reads the shape, however simplified, as a head.

Whether in painting or sculpture, Van Nazareth's figures are not individuals but generalised types, and they often represent the worst kind because he is obsessed with moral ugliness. The sculptures are sometimes seen as ungraceful and ugly, yet strong. They may even appear grubby, but the surface conceals a sophisticated technique. Instead of ennobling his subjects he is brutally honest. It is clear that Herman is not concerned with that which is beautiful or pleasing, however, in the placement of the sculptures he achieves a visually aesthetic presentation.

Although Van Nazareth has always been too much of an individualist to indulge in popular clichés and to allow the meaning of his art to be controlled by nostalgia, dogma, ideology or political needs, he is socially conscious. Therefore, many of his figures contain universal meanings about man as an outsider or as an oppressor. The indistinctness and lack of corporeality of his burly, massive, featureless heads that are shown against dark and heavy backgrounds suggest the difficulty man experiences in communicating with and relating to others.

Van Nazareth has always been unconventional and has never settled for mediocrity. He does not compromise easily, if ever. Despite his sculptures often being described as having an overbearing presence, they are monumental, haunting, beguiling and sensual. Although his paintings were initially almost too powerful for some conservative South African tastes, his grasp of the South African human condition, his sensitive portrayal of the human body, his energetic depiction of the South African landscape, and above all his self-assured command of his medium, have made him a trailblazer in South African art. His art is much too unique to be copied – no artist would dare imitate his individual style – but it has undoubtedly served as a paragon and an internationally acclaimed prototype for many South African artists.

Van Nazareth is one of the first 'speakers' of the new pictorial language of modern sculptors and painters. His work communicates the message of 21st-century man who has a greater experience of life, who is more aware of a universal order, and who possesses the extensive visual literacy to capture these concepts in his art.
 
We would like to hear from you

Please forward information of your branch [and low-res pictures] to the SANAVA secretariat for inclusion in the newsletter.
 
SANAVA secretariat
Junxion Communications, e-mail ben@junxionpr.co.za, tel +27 82 551 4853, fax +27 86 615 4876