Thursday, May 28, 2009

ArtsPage 22 May 2009 The expanding pond

A busy fortnight it has been, what with the much-hyped Brett Kebble Sale in Johannesburg (R55 million and some important Irma Sterns still to sell) and the Sotheby’s/Welz sale on 26/27 May at Kirstenbosch. But let us not lose sight of the ripples in our own expanding pond, there are plenty of local happenings to share with you.

New galleries.

Even this chilly economic climate cannot keep the artistically-optimistic from opening galleries. A warm welcome to La Marey in Marine Square, that glamorous new development between Mitchell and High streets in Hermanus. Rey Muller and his wife Marie have a gallery (also La Marey, no prizes for guessing where that name came from) in Somerset Mall and another one opening in the Strand next month. The aim is to provide something for all tastes and they are happy to talk to local artists and ceramists about representation. Maryn Burger and Gamene Simes are the two young ladies who will look after the gallery with Rey in frequent attendance.

The other new opening is a town-centre relaunch by the well-known gallerist Cobus Kershoff of his gallery “4 Art Sake”. He is now in Royal Centre - the little square alongside Kentucky Fried - and his offerings of selected artworks go right up to the ceiling. There is not room to swing more than a very small kitten but cheerful Cobus feels his artspot is correctly positioned and he looks forward to greeting his old clientele and catching the passing trade, too.
When Walker Bay Art Gallery started up in Main Road, the owner Francois Grobbelaar said, in response to an enquiry whether there were “too many galleries” in Hermanus - “I would be happy if the whole road were filled with them!” Spot on, Francois, you know all about Clarens in the Free State and how it attracts visitors as an Art Destination; that is where we are headed, too, if our galleries want to co-operate.

Classes and crits

At Overberg Art 27/29 May or 3/5 June, you can participate in a three-day Art Retreat led by Hettie Saaiman, artist and art teacher, who will enable you to create your own flower composition using acrylics on canvas. Maximum of eight per course and lunches at luxurious guesthouse Selkirk House are included. Check with Corrie on 082 477 9192.
Shelley Adams is offering a crit class entitled “Colour Connections” on Monday 1 June. Call 072 677 6277.
Fred Rousseau presents personalized art classes for all levels at The Art Shop, Tuesday or Thursday mornings. Call 072 431 9124.

Framing opportunity

Still one more week to take up the winter discount framing offer at Frames for Africa, The Framery/Onrus and the Mission’s House Gallery. The coupon with details was in the Hermanus Times of 8 May. As my artistic friend Cecilie says, “Walala wa sala”. (If you snooze, you lose.)


“A form or work of art in which pictures are produced by joining together minute pieces of glass, stone etc. of different colours”. My Concise Oxford gives the derivation from the Greek mousaikos – “of the Muses” which is a pretty concept. The muses are well represented in mosaic on the walls of Enlighten Education Trust Centre’s smart new building in Swartdam Road – the panels were done under guidance from Morag Swanepoel with Lara from Mila Mosaics, the specialist craft and art studio in Mitchell Street.
What an excellent way of bringing vibrant art into the lives of all who pass. The official unveiling is at 16h00 on Thursday 21 May.

And at Onrus Gallery, mosaic in the form of textile art is on display. A splendid quilt “Carnival in Rio” created by Kathryn Celliers-Louw, it was awarded a first prize at last year’s National Quilt Festival. The medium : 400 blocks of hand-dyed cotton embellished with cotton prints embossed with gold metallic thread and beads. The effect: breath-taking.
This artwork was recently used as illustration for a local lecture on colour and the students suggested it be put on display. It will be shown at the gallery for two weeks.


You would expect a splendid new cellar, tasting room and restaurant which carries the name Creation to have some striking art. Enthusiastic co-owner Carol Martin showed me the impressive works she commissioned from local artist and gallerist Leon Müller and the intriguing fibreglass, steel and paint sculptures of Brendon Cahill and the glass works of Jeannette Unite which are for sale. 18k up the Hemel en Aarde Road -

Cecil Skotnes (1926-2009)

Abalone Gallery is mounting “Homage á Cecil Skotnes”, opening on Saturday 30 May at noon. This seminal artist with his synthesis of European Modernism with an African idiom, used distinctive incised wood blocks and woodcuts as well as oils. He has left a powerful legacy, both in his prolific body of work and in his influence on South African art, particularly on those black artists who studied under him at the Polly Street Art Centre in Johannesburg in the fifties.
The massive panels in the Monument to the 1820 Settlers in Grahamstown were installed in the 1980s. Allegorical, with a theme of the seasons, these form an unforgettable experience for visitors to the great antechamber of the monument theatre.

The Art Shop

Last Thursday was the relaunch, under Derek Goosen’s ownership, of The Art Shop. A cheerful occasion which was enjoyed by invited artists, suppliers, staff and friends. The spread below celebrates the relaunch and ArtsPage is very happy to welcome Derek’s input to the local art scene.

News and views always welcome at

ArtsPage 8 May 2009 Frame it again, Sam

Remember that old painting that you love but that is hanging in the corridor because the frame is simply too old-fashioned, dirty or damaged to be seen in the livingroom? Or maybe it’s a watercolour painted by your favourite aunt and never really given a chance because it never enjoyed a decent frame? Well, now is your chance to do something about them.

Winter opportunity

There is no doubt that when the cold strikes, business in Hermanus gets a little sluggish. The art business is no exception and the framing studios feel it, too. So our leading three framers have decided to get together and, for the rest of the month of May, they are encouraging you to stop just thinking about reframing and get down to some action while the offer lasts.

Gilded frames

Frames were originally designed to protect paintings and were made of wood, still the most prestigious of framing materials. An elaborate moulding of plaster over the plain wood base, the whole gilded and designed to draw attention to the artwork and to enhance its appeal – think altar pieces, icons, traditional landscapes and old family portraits. These works, usually in oils, require no glass as they are protected by a renewable transparent varnish which catches the flyspecks and dust of the decades. Restorers can remove the varnish if it yellows with age and reapply – leading to some surprisingly rosy cheeks where before the sitter looked distinctly sallow of complexion.

Modern acrylic paints, too, are tough enough not to need glass. But pastels and watercoulours, gouaches and charcoal studies and works on paper in general would soon deteriorate without protection. The glass must not touch the surface of the paper so various mounts or thin mouldings are used to achieve this. The gap created avoids any condensation inside the glass which would damage the paint medium.
Not all pictures require framing; acrylics and oils are often presented with painted edges which finish them off well.


There is much more to the framing game than merely making a picture look better. Poor quality mounts and backing paper, masking tape, pins that rust and short-cut practices can do real damage to valuable artworks. The coating of glass to include UV filtering (light damage) and non-reflective qualities also need to be considered. If you want to avoid the dreaded foxing, better specify acid-free board. Costs can be cut if necessary by using plastic mouldings – the best are indistinguishable from wood, some of the “antique” finishes even have mock beetle holes to add veracity. And this is where an experienced framer can advise and give you an option that suits your purse and the work being framed.

Local experts

Three ladies whom I can confidently recommend are available in Greater Hermanus to offer the makeover that your artwork is begging for.
In the strictest alphabetical order, there is Glenda Pope at The Mission’s House in Onrus, who has recently brought her craftsmen on site to a new workroom on her historic old property in De Villiers Street. She has an attractive range of paintings in her gallery and was delighted to tell me that Charles van der Merwe’s Parisian Café painting which I used to illustrate last fortnight’s page, has just been sold to an overseas buyer. Glenda’s eye is spot-on and her advice, whether on framing or to aspirant painters, is always valuable.

Also in Onrus, having moved from her previous home studio on Old Main Road to Molteno Street a year ago, is Marlene Oberholzer at The Framery. Marlene does all her own frame construction and makes something of a speciality of block mounting and stretching photo-printed canvasses as well as art framing in the wider sense. She has been framing for 14 years and finds less and less time for her own painting.

In Hermanus centre, behind Pick ‘n Pay, is the Long Street framing business called Frames for Africa. Zelda Calitz is the owner and artistic director here and all work is done on the premises. Zelda sums up the job in two ticks, she is decisive in her recommendations but never dictates. She reinforces her suggestions with a winning smile and, like her fellow framers, she delivers a professional product with minimum delay.

Fresh and gleaming

When you have come home with your artwork looking fresh and gleaming, it becomes your responsibility to protect it further. Do avoid hanging in direct sunlight – and if you have a wall whose dryness is suspect, cut an ordinary wine cork into slivers and stick one piece on each corner at the back of the frame. This allows a circulation of air and lessens the possibility of mould.

Look around your house now and see whether some of your special artworks are in need of some tender loving care - then take them in to Glenda, Marlene or Zelda and give the pictures a new lease of life. And keep your news and views coming to me at

Sketch - The Art Shop

Hermanus rejoices in its many galleries and in the artists who live here. It was in response to the need for a specialized art and design materials supply that Sandy Cooper opened The Art Shop in Mitchell Street in September 2003. The baton passed to Sanet Cornelius and now ArtsPage is happy to welcome Derek Goosen as the new owner of this business which will be officially relaunched on Thursday 14 May .

Derek is an experienced retailer and was the driving force behind the Musica brand for 40 years, before retiring in 2002. Two years ago, heeding a suggestion by a friend running a successful framing business in Claremont, he researched the potential of the art and design retail arena. Similar stores in South Africa and the UK were scrutinized and he liked what he saw. The industry appeared to be well structured, with a compact menu of suppliers, workable operating margins, and offering realistic growth opportunities. Even more relevant was the resonance with his previous love affair with the music game, where music tugged at the heart strings and invariably provided the “soul food” for music lovers. It seemed clear to Derek that drawing and painting offer similar therapeutic experiences for many of those who sketch and paint.

Thus it was that The Village Brush and Canvas art shop opened in December 2006 in Belvedere Square, Claremont. On the strength of that store’s growing reputation in just two years of trading, a second store seemed like a good idea. When Derek heard that The Art Shop Hermanus was on the market, and being aware of the dynamic nature of the visual art community in the Overberg area, he acquired the business earlier this year.

Derek is very happy that Isabel Greyvenstein, who has been with The Art Shop for more than 6 years, will continue to manage the store and provide the fine service of which she and her assistant Chrizelle Damons are so proud. I asked Isabel if she painted and she admits to having had a go at oils but “gardening is my main hobby.” They are looking for a Saturday morning help, so if you know of a young guy or girl who has an interest in the arts and needs to earn a bit of cash, let them go in and ask Isabel.

It’s good to see favourite brands like Winsor and Newton, Daler-Rowney, Art Spectrum and Maimeri on the shelves and I am told that a comprehensive restocking has taken place since Derek has taken over. He is continuing to reward regular customers with a loyalty discount and already the frequent product specials are attracting attention. We can look forward to the range being “tweaked and enhanced” so it makes sense to support a local team who have shown that they can deliver.

ArtsPage 24 April 2009 Land Art at Baardskeerdersbos

Remember “Wrapping the Reichstag”? That was the artist, Bulgarian-born Christo, now officially called “Christo and Jeanne-Claude” to include both partners who were responsible for bringing the term land art into the public eye. They did not stop at wrapping monumental buildings but went on to curtain canyons and insulate islands in diaphanous material – in every case they restored the objects of their art to a natural state after the work was complete.

The Dutch artist herman de vries (he prefers lower case) is also a pioneering land artist and was responsible for introducing our local artist Leli Hoch to the genre. de vries, born 1931, enjoys creating sanctuaries where onlookers may observe but not trespass. He believes “one cannot enrich or improve nature with art.” I heard a fresh definition of land art the other day – “Using elements of nature in nature to create art.” And this is certainly what Leli does – see her picture of nasturtiums and the broken dam.

Workshops at B’Bos

On the weekend 2 + 3 May, Leli will lead workshops on land art in the fynbos and surrounds of participating artist Andrée Bonthuys on Saturday afternoon around 15h00 and Sunday morning around 10h30. Andrée’s work includes reference to fecund forests and shadow shows so keep an open mind. Twelve other local artists will be participating in the weekend art route and you can visit their studios and meet them between 10h00 and 17h00. For details and a map, see

Village Square

If you can fight your way through the crowds at the Waterfront Piazza at this weekend’s music festival, have a look at the art on exhibition on the second floor – a group of artists have, since Easter, taken advantage of the massive space there and established themselves in an informal gallery. Celeste Fourie was very pleased with the amount of visitors passing through and is hoping to stay on as long as possible.

Cecil Skotnes
Sad to take note of the demise at 82 of a great South African master. Skotnes contributed so much to the indigenous art scene with his distinctive work rooted in the African idiom. He and his wife Thelma always struck me as gentle but tenacious. Certainly Skotnes’s mentoring work at the Polly Street Art Centre, founded 1949 in downtown Johannesburg, was a seminal influence in difficult times. This was recognized in 2003 when he was awarded the Order of Ikhamanga (gold). A life well lived.

I look forward to hearing your news and views at


Many eminent artists, of all genres, live in our Overberg region. This brings up the interesting question of what it is in this environment which inspires or allows artists to fulfill their desires and intentions. Is it the natural physical environment? The relative quiet? The connectedness of a large community of artists? The feeling that the culture and ambience of the area offers possibilities for the artist’s values and way of life? Whatever the reasons, it is obvious that the region benefits from the culture of art in many ways, and that The Way of The Artist deserves acknowledgement and support.

From Figures to Figures

Charles van der Merwe settled here five years ago, having decided to leave the corporate world of finance and figures for a full-time, professional, life in the world of Art, drawing and painting. Brought up in the green hills of Kwazulu-Natal, he had side-lined early interest in drawing for a career in the industrial financial field in South Africa, England, Mozambique and Angola.
Serious drawing/painting commenced in 1980. By 2001 he had decided to devote the rest of his life to art. Retiring from corporate life, he embarked on an exploration of the world of art, studying with well-known artists, visiting great art museums in Europe and being awarded a two-month study period at Citê Internationale des Artes, Paris in 2007.


He works in pastels and oils, charcoal and graphite. He has had solo exhibitions (The Cape Gallery 2004, The Philip Harper Gallery 2005 the art-B Gallery 2007), several two-man exhibitions and numerous joint exhibitions (including The Smithfield Gallery, London, 2008). A Fellow of the South African Society of Artists (SASA), he has been, in recent years, a consistent winner of the ‘Best Pastel’ trophy at SASA exhibitions as well as receiving the ‘Best Drawing’ prize in 2006.

“ I try to look and see beyond apparent reality to the depth of a moment, a situation, a person, an environment. To re-present this essence, to reflect these ‘frames of encounter’ in a complex, ongoing interaction between artist, viewer & subject. The world presents itself moment to moment. Figures, faces, street scenes, interiors, landscapes. The pavement cafê, the dance studio, the nude figure. Illumination beyond windows, the impermanence of flowers, stillness in movement, dry dusty empty plains”.

Charles now lives and works in Kleinmond. I asked his wife Marguerite if she painted, too. She suggested that one artist in the family is enough. Certainly, if not an artist herself, she has the sensitivity to be a significant support and gave me the details for this sketch. His work is evocative and well-finished as one can see by the recognition granted by his fellow artists. It must be delightful to live with and will continue to give pleasure over the years.

Charles’s voyage of discovery continues in his art as well as literary, musical and philosophical interests, and in travel. He values the life-experience of a ‘mature’ citizen in reflecting the artistic process. You can see his work in local galleries in Hermanus and Onrus (The Missions House.)

ArtsPage 10 April 2009 Art at Easter

To our visitors – whether holiday-home owners or tourists out to catch the last of the summer with us in Hermanus: May you have sunny weather, a safe holiday and joyful Eastertide and please take an artwork home with you. Oh, and go easy on the chocolate.


There are twenty-five names on my list of artspots in Hermanus and Onrus – and another sixteen or so art businesses and galleries in nearby villages – Stanford, Greyton, Betty’s Bay and Kleinmond. All of them worth a visit. Together they make up an art destination that cannot be missed. So if it’s not perfect beach weather, what about taking a look at what is on offer? Galleries are places to browse until you find the piece of art to which you react emotionally and which you cannot live without. In the auction room you have to be quick and certain of your taste but in a gallery you can take all the time you need. I was in Tay Modern the other day and heartened to see a family with two youngsters reacting to Tay’s fantastical, colour-filled works. Kids need to be exposed to art and to realize that a gallery is a treasure house and not a forbidding no-go area.

Gallery Hermanus

This unpretentious gallery smack in the middle of town has windows brimming with paintings. It is one of a group of seven galleries operated by The Fine Arts Portfolio, based in Cape Town. Rensie Blignaut is the local manager and she draws on the substantial stock of her parent company to satisfy the needs of her clients. Rensie is a people’s person – she hails from Oudtshoorn where she took art at school and she understudied Cobus Kershoff for some time before taking over when he opened his own artspot. The art she sells is accessible and varied; she uses the company website to select the works she would like to display. Nothing too cutting-edge here but the gallery clearly fills a niche in our art world and quietly gets on with the business of displaying and selling art.

Rossouw Modern

In the fisherman’s cottage on Harbour Road Joshua Rossouw, enfant terrible of the local art scene, shows contemporary art which delight his artistic sensibilities. Joshua has just received a collection of works by the winner of the 2008 PPC Young Sculptors Award, Ruhan Janse van Vuuren. “ His knowledge of painting becomes evident in the incredibly rich and seductive colouration and textures that cover his sculptures in resin and oils. He has an intense empathy for the unsanitised, mundane and flawed. His figures are almost defenceless as everyday people with their own inhibitions and imperfections and he tries to depict figures that are natural and at the same time he questions the future of figurative sculpture in contemporary art.” They are challenging and not for everyone. But go and have a look.

On the gallery walls there are plenty of vibrant paintings – the works by Glenn Cox always catch my eye and the up-and-coming Cape Town artist Bastiaan van Stenis shows canvasses which are arresting and sometimes disturbing.

Hornbill Fine Art

Wednesday saw the opening by Nico van Rensburg of the exhibition “Feathers” – Rouvé, Amanda Reyneke van den Berg and Erna Dry. The gallery is upstairs from the Hornbill Studio where Afrocentric ceramics of high quality are on display. Erna’s study in pencil on paper, entitled “Flushed Out” is one of the works currently on view.

Vermont Art Circle
Sandbaai Stationery and Art at the Superplants Nursery gives you a last chance on Saturday morning to view and perhaps submit a sealed bid for the Circle’s Bid and Buy Exhibition. Louis Genade, owner of the shop, is so entranced with his new paint medium Crisitex that he took his first hesitant steps in painting. The result was, alas, deemed not ready for hanging in the show.

Joshua Miles

This Easter Joshua Miles (another Baardskeerderbos artist) is on show at Prince Albert; but you can also see his work at the Mission’s House in Onrus. The counterplay between his oils and his woodcuts is intriguing. His show has several examples of the same subject treated in both mediums.

The Gallery at Hubbards Cupboard

Bruce Myles, gallery director, tipped me off that they have just received a landscape by Paddy Starling. This well-established artist (b 1940) is represented in a number of prestigious collections. The Hubbards Cupboard exhibition area covers the restaurant area as well as the streetside gallery of decorative art. The paintings on display include local artists and others sourced by the keen eye of Carol van Hoogstraaten, owner of the Cupboard.

Any gallery will tell you what a difference a frame makes. I am putting the spotlight on local framers in my ArtsPage of 8 May so if you do framing and want to participate, let me know. And if you have works that need an uplift, start sorting them out now.

News and views always welcome at

Rugs and Art Expo at Fernkloof

Watching the creative process is always fun and this Saturday from 10h00 to 16h00 in the Botanical Society Hall in Fernkloof there will be several painters at their easels, painting from nature. If you are visiting the Morning Market you may like to pop in and see them. The exhibition, which will include an array of Kelim rugs from Afganistan, Turkey and Iran, has been organized by Eleanor Welsh of Iona Property Gallery. Some ten years ago, it was Eleanor who, with friends, ran a tea garden from the same spot to raise funds for the society. Nowadays she shows the works of artists in her real estate office at the corner of Long Street and Victoria Square and is offering the public a chance to see her artists in action en plein air. Your opportunity to buy while the paint is still moist.

Fred Rousseau is one of the artists represented and he has taken over Peter Earl’s role of teacher-in-atendance at The Art Shop. The work illustrated is a seascape in oils entitled Kwaaiwater. Fred strives for authenticity and detail in his painting. Nature and wildlife and the sea are important to him.
Other local artists on the Expo are :- Willma Burger, Tosca, Glenda Miles, Claudie Lemoine, Charme Southey, Dulcie Beebe, Johlette Nortje, Dante Rubin, Zanie and the Photographs of Hansie Oosthuizen.(See Sketch).

Kelims (the Anatolian word has half a dozen alternative spellings) are flat-woven as opposed to pile-knotted rugs. They are relatively less expensive than tufted carpets and are often long and narrow, usually being tapestry-woven. The great thing about Kelims is that they age well, the natural dyes of the older ones gently fading and enhancing their beauty. The irregularity of the pattern points to the hand weaving techniques.

SKETCH - Niël Jonker

If you live in deepest Baardskeerdersbos, as so many artists have chosen to do, you will almost certainly be part of the B’Bos Art Route. (Their next open weekend is 2/3 May and you can get details on 028 3819636 or It is a lovely trip from Hermanus if you are happy with some gravel.

But the mountain is not always going to come to Mohammed. Artists living in nature need to travel, to have exhibitions elsewhere and this is what Niël Jonker does. He is a regular at the KKNK, Oudtshoorn’s national art fest and has for the past ten days been there, showing his new collection entitled “Terroir”. Most are landscapes in the Cape Impressionist tradition, as in the picture “Hemel en Aarde - Reëndag” . He explores the links between viticulture and painting in his moody renditions of local marine and countryside scenes.

An artist like Jonker has been painting and sculpting for twenty years and he has earned his spurs. I have enjoyed his works at The Mission’s House gallery in Onrus. The CV details become less relevant but it is interesting to see from his new website that he hails from Oudtshoorn and painted full-time from 2004. He is inviting friends and artlovers to a launch of the website on Sunday 19 April from 10h00 at the Stanford home of his friend and fellow artist Sanette Upton. She is at 2, Lower Longmarket Street in Stanford and one will have a chance to see paintings from the Terroir series as well as some of his still life canvasses and figurative bronzes.

Niel is also known for his breadmaking skills – you will often find him at the Fernkloof Farmer’s Market on a Saturday morning and the plaasbrood is a treat. Bread, wine and art, they seem to go pretty well together; just add friends and ambience. Talent and perseverance, too. No wonder Niel is a cheerful chap. If you would like to make his acquaintance and see his works in the comfort of a home setting, ring Sanette on 072 822 9970.

SKETCH - Hansie Oosthuizen

Photography as an art medium? I confess I once had difficulty with the notion. But it’s getting easier and, if you share my initial reservation, I urge you to visit Hansie Oosthuizen at his sunny studio behind the Engen garage at the Sandbaai crossroads. A full range of his breathtaking studies will be on view there till end April and thereafter at selected art galleries – Hansie loves his art but as a professional photographer he is out and about so often that a home base is more cost-effective than a photo gallery.

When I called him to discuss his work, I said “Is that the world-famous photographer?” And the answer came back, with a chuckle “Only my mother thinks so…” But he is being modest and we need to know that, right here in Hermanus, we have the winner of the just-announced Sony 2008 Image of the Year award. It is a monochrome-toned image of a gecko’s foot, fragile and evocative. A huge feather in his cap and just one sample from a top photographer whose daily work covers the whole spectrum from weddings and functions to portrait, fashion and commercial work as well as those riveting art works on display.

Of course with digital cameras, the image can be manipulated more easily than with film photography. But with Hansie’s pictures, the striking effect is usually because of the pin sharpness of the image, its magnified size, the saturation of the colour in the immaculate limited-edition or one-off prints and, critically, the artist’s eye. His subjects are wide-ranging and some of the best works for me were the impressionist close-ups of found objects, not beautiful in themselves but made beautiful by his appropriation of them. “Make it, don’t just take it” is a theme that I first heard at the Hermanus Photographic Society of which Hansie is an active member.

October this year will see him in New Brunswick, Canada to co- present a workshop retreat in Fundy National Park. Locals may want to join his Weekend Workshop with David Randel on digital camera use, 18 and 19 April at FrancolinHof Guesthouse in Hermanus. Hansie is keen to share his knowledge and experience, he managed to clarify the basis of digital picture size and pixel count for me in a few ticks. His cheerful and straight-forward manner goes well with his passion for his medium. But do not take my word for it, visit his studio in the next week or two and see for yourself what this artist can do.

ArtsPage 27 March 2009 Art auctions, Art Fairs

Now that desk-top publishing is a reality, everyone can publish the book that they have been quietly polishing over the years. Memoirs “for the family”, a racy novel (are you the next Wilbur Smith?), archival research that really should not be lost, you can do it. Problem comes when you want to distribute your gem. Even if you are able to persuade a national chain or at least your local book shop to stock copies, they will display them only for a week or two, hold them on their shelves for only a few months. Selling is a battle.

So with art. The production, fraught with birth-pangs and sometimes self-doubt, is the easy part. It is the selling that takes the real effort. Some time back, I punted “The Artist’s Handbook”, available in the Overstrand Library, which gives practical tips on the business of art but there really is no short cut. Artists need to produce the art that is within them and the struggle to sell is part of the winnowing process separating the “painters for pleasure” from the committed artist who “kannie anders nie”.


This is where galleries come in. They are always on the look out for work that they feel they can sell. Just as the old-fashioned publishing house does not only print your book, it offers critical advice, editing, support and much more. Visual artists (and self-publishers) skip this part of the process. But good galleries can fill the gap and guide and nurture the artist as well as market the art.

Art Fairs are another way of getting work sold. Dealers or galleries will take a stand at a fair and display their artists’ work. It is in the dealer’s interest to put up a good show so the selection is rigorous. The costs of advertising and attracting a good crowd are split and of course a fair can create its own magic, just as a gallery opening can do. The art-buying public often likes to be seen buying and a social occasion can help the decision to purchase.

Joburg Art Fair

The second Joburg Art Fair , at the Sandton Convention Centre, will be open to the public from 3-5 April. There’s a featured artist, Jane Alexander, (well-established and represented in our National Gallery,) some special projects, furniture design, books, art talks, video art and the stands of some 26 galleries . And of course there are the parties, led by Absolut Art. This vodka brand has made art sponsorship its special niche and I have not heard any artists complaining.

Ross Douglas, director of the Fair, make the point that not one of the world’s 300-odd art fairs focuses on contemporary art from Africa. This year’s fair, he says, will showcase the work of more than 400 artists and 32 designers from the continent, with the majority coming from South Africa. As the art world focuses more sharply on value, art from South Africa will become of greater interest.
More detail on


Most of the auction houses in Cape Town include art in their offerings. Some, like Stephan Welz/Sothebys, Ashbeys and Rudd’s have built up reputations for fair dealing over the years while the newly-formed Strauss and Co relies on its well-known and knowledgeable partners and staff. Now we have, in Hermanus, Whale Rock Auctioneers who had their first fine art, antiques and collectibles sale on Sunday at premises in Hermanus Business Park, behind CTM . The sale was well conducted by Jason Children who dealt at a fair pace with the 255 lots on offer. The furniture seemed a little over-restored and under-described in the catalogue and the modern Oriental rugs were too many, but the venue was comfortable and spacious. A selection of attractive artworks were on offer and the top price achieved was R176 000 (including buyer’s premium) for a delightful little Hugo Naudé oil, “Tamatiebank”.

It is likely that future monthly auctions will be on Saturday mornings from 11am, still time for weekend visitors to arrive and look in. If the sales are able to attract bidders from areas like Cape Town and Stellenbosch and if they are supported by residents selling furniture and art of quality, we shall have a real asset to enhance Hermanus as an art destination. Whale Rock’s conditions of sale have the usual caveats about descriptions and deals carry a buyer’s premium of 10% but sellers should be able, at least in the early days, to negotiate the seller’s commission which could make local selling more attractive.

Innovative selling
If you are not in the auction or art fair category, consider the Vermont Art Circle’s idea of a Bid and Buy exhibition. Next chance is from 15h00 on Friday 3 April at Sandbaai Art and Stationery in the Super Plants nursery. Glenda Pope will be opening the 14-member show and the idea is that prospective patrons place bids in sealed envelopes which are opened by the artist only at the end of the show – 11 April. If the highest bid exceeds the reserve price, the artist finalises the sale.

Walker Bay Art Gallery
Francois Grobbelaar of Walker Bay has opened another gallery at Kanonkop Wine Estate near Stellenbosch. The estate has shown a consistent record of success and ArtsPage hopes the gallery, situated in an atmospheric converted barn will do likewise. My picture features the interior with Louis Chanu’s bronze, “Forgotton Games”, a life-size rendering of a Swazi youth playing with a bicycle rim. The bronze is one of an edition of ten. More work may be seen on

Hornbill Gallery

On Wednesday 6 April at 18h00 Hornbill opens with a show of Amanda Reyneke van den Berg, Rouvé de Flamingh and Erna Dry. It is entitled “Feathers” and Nico van Rensburg will be the guest speaker. Come and enjoy the work, the company and a drink. One of Rouvé’s oils, “Catching Dreams…” is illustrated.

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ArtsPage 13 March 2009 Picasso and Sehgal

A new law firm? No, just artists that feature in to-day’s ArtsPage. No prizes for recognizing the first name. On Tuesday the intimate Art Film Club (at Rodney Anderson’s private cinema tucked away in Vidivox – Gateway) screened a documentary on Picasso: Magic, Sex and Death. We were promised a presenter with real passion, one who had studied his subject. John Richardson, friend of Picasso and his circle, did not let us down. The DVD traced the life of Spanish-born Pablo Picasso and his many conquests and inspirations. Footage of the artist showed his dark eyes burning like coals, as he made his art or simply lived his intense life with friends, lovers, family. France became his home but Spanish machismo remained his life’s theme.

Constructed Situations
Now about the other man in my title, Tino Sehgal. Certainly not as instantly recognizable as the illustrious Picasso, Mr Sehgal is a British-German artist in his thirties. He works in Berlin and has exhibited at the Tate, the Institute of Contemporary Art and the 2005 Venice Biennale among other important venues. He may be as important as Marcel Duchamp in terms of forcing us to look at art afresh. Alternatively, he may just be a consummate salesman.

Sehgal’s works are “constructed situations.” He puts together a scenario which is performed and which expects the participation of his audience. While professional actors are used for some pieces, one work that intrigued me can be enacted by individuals. Called “Those Thoughts” , it involves two art collectors, usually a couple, hosting a dinner party. When the first course arrives, one gets up and leaves. The co-host follows after a minute or two. Then they return, but swap places and eat each other’s meal. The guests of course ask questions and the resulting discourse is the object of the piece.

Gallery works
Public works might, for example, involve a museum attendant reading headlines from the newspaper to the visitors. In another piece, also staged in a gallery or art museum, five people surround a visitor but keep their backs to him/her. The five chant “ The object of this work is to become the object of discussion”. If they get a response, a discussion ensues. If not, the five slowly sink to the ground. The work, from 2004, is called “This objective of that object.”

Now this may sound like a simple variation on performance art; but the difference is that Sehgal, (or his dealer) sells a single or multiple edition of the right to perform the piece for ever or to loan it to other institutions. There are quite stringent conditions in the sale; no contract, no written set of instructions, no catalogue, no pictures and no receipt. If the work is to be exhibited, it must be performed or on view each day for six weeks. But despite the lack of materiality, top public galleries have bought works. I am not sure that I am ready to purchase but I do think that he may prove to be a seminal influence on art.

Strauss & Co
Strauss and Co’s first sale, in Johannesburg on Monday, seems to have gone very well and sold 86% by lot. The superb Hugo Naudé seascape pictured last fortnight made R557 000 including buyer’s premium. An Irma Stern fetched R5,8m and another one went for R7,2m. A pair of Tretchikoff oils failed to reach their reserves of R250 000 and R450 000.

Stephan Welz/Sothebys

Highlight of the end-February auction at Kirstenbosch was Erik Laubscher’s Still Life with Mandolin, Music Score and Fruit. This superb work in late post-Cubist style, has echoes of Braque and Léger from two years he spent in Paris in the early Fifties. Laubscher (b 1927) is alive and well and working in Cape Town. The price of R1,1m was a world record for him, and a SA record for work of a living artist at auction. He and his wife, artist Claude Bouscharain, whom he met in Paris, must be delighted. They would no doubt be even happier if the sale were subject to ARR (the Artist’s Resale Right which exists in Europe and England to give artists a royalty when their works are sold at auction or by dealers.) One wonders if this will ever be introduced in South Africa.

New auction house for Hermanus

This week ArtsPage welcomes a new venture for Hermanus by Hennie Niemann Snr and Derrick Benzien , owners of the Onrus Gallery. It will be known as Whale Rock Auctioneers. Monthly sales of fine art, antiques and collectibles are planned at their premises in Adam Street, Hermanus Business Park (behind CTM). The first one is on Sunday 22 March at 10h00 and you can view beforehand, Thursday to Saturday. Sales will be conducted by Jason Children, who relocated to Onrus about a year ago. A painting by Gregoire Boonzaier, illustrated, is among those to be offered.

Auctions can be great fun and an opportunity to acquire artworks at “wholesale” prices. If the auctioneer and the public are on a roll, sellers can sometimes get really good prices, too. Remember that there is a buyer’s premium in addition to what you bid; and please, please inspect the works on the viewing days before the sale. A good auction house guarantees that the work it sells is as described in the catalogue. There are a fair number of dubious artworks out there looking for new owners so make sure you are very comfortable with the work itself and the firm selling the work. I shall be discussing authenticity in a later ArtsPage.

Meet the artist

Pure South at 155 Main Road is having another of its popular Meet the Artist evenings next Friday, 20 March at 18h30.We shall get a chance to chat to the engaging young ceramist Andile Dyalvane who is pictured on this page. He had a successful show in Italy last year and he will be telling us about his studio Imiso Ceramics. Let Liz know on 028 312 1899 if you would like to attend.

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ArtsPage 27 February Death and Taxes

“Death and taxes and childbirth! There’s never any convenient time for any of them!” So wrote Margaret Mitchell, authoress, in “Gone with the Wind.”

We are one day short of the end of the tax year. If you have not looked at your finances and paid your provisional tax, may I suggest you put down this page and get on with those weighty matters. ArtsPage is mere entertainment, though with an earnest desire to inform on art happenings. Do not squander your valuable time if more pressing matters await.

The Brett Kebble Collection
In true Randlord tradition, the late Brett Kebble amassed a substantial collection of art. Unlike some of them, he did not survive to bequeath the works to a grateful nation, leaving a legacy by which his name will be remembered. The works are to auctioned in Johannesburg for the benefit of the creditors in his insolvent estate. What will certainly be remembered by living artists are the Brett Kebble Art Awards which were substantial and generated much public interest while they lasted.

The Randlords, mining magnates like Sir Joseph Robinson, Sir Lionel and Lady Phillips, Sir Max Michaelis and the Beits, used art to demonstrate their respectability and define their social identity. In his splendid book “Art and Aspirations” (Fernwood Press 2002) , art historian and gallery owner Michael Stevenson enlarged on his PhD thesis to chronicle these swashbuckling times at the turn of the 19th century.

Kebble chose to indulge his interest in art on a grand scale and clearly he was well guided. The website is due to display the 142 works which Graham’s Fine Art in Fourways, Johannesburg are putting to auction. The site was not up at time of writing but undoubtedly there will be a comprehensive selection from emergent artists as well as the safer South African Masters like the Irma Stern illustrated. You can see the works themselves at Grahams 16 April-1 May, then they move to Summerplace in Hyde Park, the venue for the sale on 7 May 2009. It promise to be a great occasion.

Auctions are valuable as a means of liquidating collections, of establishing values of artworks on the open market and by no means least, of enabling others to acquire established artists’ work and build their own collections. If someone’s whole lifetime accumulation is left to a museum, the chances are that only a small portion will ever be displayed and the works go “out of circulation.” Kebble’s works are all comparatively recently acquired so the process of reallocation has speeded up.

In insolvency law, the Receiver of Revenue ranks high up on the list of preferred creditors so he will probably be hoping for a successful sale. The advertisement reads “The Highly Important Auction of the Prestigious Collection of the Late Roger Brett Kebble.” The flamboyant multi-adjectival style seems quite appropriate.

Overstrand Arts/Kunste

The first issue of the Overstrand Arts News reached me this week. It is the well-designed newsletter of a new local body incorporated primarily to promote the performing arts following the acquisition of a gleaming Yamaha grand piano for our Civic Auditorium. The visual arts have been included in the body’s aims and I am reassured by the number of artists on the steering committee. Contact for an email copy of the newsletter and send your comments to Lianda Beyers Cronjé or Frans Boot

Gansbaai Art Route

On the 7th and 8th March, take a run though to Gansbaai and investigate the local art route. Some dozen studios are open and 35 artists participating . A good place to start is Paul Pretorius at his Interiors shop in Dirkie Uys Street. He has maps and information. 079 0208295.

Changes at The Art Shop

Our source of art materials in the heart of town was given fresh impetus by Sanet Cornelius who is now handing over to a new owner. The shop is restocking rapidly and friendly Isabel is still there to look after you.

Watercolours and magic at Sandbaai

Maureen Tomaino is giving two 2-day courses in March at Sandbaai Stationery and Art . She wants to inspire you to have go at this expressive and spontaneous medium. Maureen uses new and different approaches – for times, call Louis on 028 3163789. Louis was excited at the great success of Peter Earl’s demo with Crisitex last Friday. “ He does magic with the medium.” He will repeat his artistic tricks this Friday – so speak to Louis if you want to participate.

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Sketch - Strauss and Co

Amid the doom and gloom of the international art markets, sunny South Africa has a new art auction name with a substantial pedigree. The choice of name for Stephan Welz’s new firm has a solid ring about it. Memories of political leaders here and abroad lend gravitas and the enduring culture of jeans (Levi’s are Levi Strauss on formal occasions) not to mention the lilting melodies of Vienna, increase the range of associations. As an ex banker, I simply like the name because Conrad Strauss is chair of the new firm, having held the same position for many years at one of South Africa’s most-respected banks.

Stephan is a son of Jean Welz whose name is known to all local art lovers and quite a few international collectors, too. He started his own fine art auctioneering company decades ago, linked up with Sotheby’s, and after a “retirement” break has emerged fresh to set up a new art business. The first sale of Strauss and Co is in Johannesburg on 9 March and Capetonians had an opportunity to preview selected items at the Castle last week. My picture shows one of the lots to be offered, a fine Hugo Naudé seascape in oils of the Hermanus coast at Roman Rock. (Estimate R500 000-R700 000).

The catalogue of 165 items is delicious ( and I wait with keen interest to see how the sale goes. The quality of the offerings is certain. Welz’s eye and experience, as well as his auctioneering abilities, are legendary.

Houghton in Johannesburg is where Strauss and Co have settled and the Southern Suburbs is their preferred base in Cape Town. When I spoke to Stephan, they were about to sign up for premises at The Oval near Cavendish Square and a stone’s throw from the iconic Vineyard hotel. Between stylish mall and old Cape ambience, how could their desired clientele fail to flock?