Archive for March, 2013

Riana van Staden – "Farmhouse in Africa"

Thursday, March 21st, 2013

Riana van Staden’s piece called "Farmhouse in Africa" is a moody oil on canvas board. Set in an expansive South African countryside, the farmhouse is depicted on a brown hillock with suggestions of civilization such as hedges and a big drive. An imposing tree guards the entrance, and stretches its green branches out almost half the width of the house. A mottled blue background competes with a lightly clouded blue sky for the viewer’s attention.

Although "Farmhouse in Africa" is a full-on representation with foreground, midground with the main subject, and a background nearly pasted in, this picture is by no means static. The gentle rise of the driveway that takes us from the right side of the canvas to the farmhouse itself and beyond is echoed in a pleasant light-colored line, curved like the clouds in the sky. The effect is one of subdued motion. The farmhouse itself, star of the painting, is displayed in bold strokes with high contrasts, a suggestion of the liveliness it contains.

A dedicated photographer, Riana works with a variety of media to make her artistic statements. "Blue Rose" is an appealing oil on canvas in muted tones of blue and cream, while "White Flower" is its near antithesis. This latter shows an eerie white blossom atop an impossibly long, curvy green stem, somehow solid and strong, all coming out of a simple terracotta-colored pot on a near-black field. An artful, electric blue spotlight is muted in the distance. "White Flower," which looks like a painting, is actually a photograph.


Adele Bantjies

Tuesday, March 19th, 2013

Adele’s self-categorized Naïve Art captures the heart and soul of her South African home.  She invokes the multifariousness of the culture while depicting simplicities of rural life.  Her choice of vivid, primary colors is similar in tone to the Naïve Art of Cuba, New Orleans, and Haiti.  Adele gives us a little peek into the pleasures of rustic living, as many of her works emit a sense of leisure and fun.  Her subjects are often musicians – playing instruments ranging from drums to violins and cellos.  Some are shown in the midst of attending to every-day affairs.  However, the cartoon-like renditions are anything but shallow. There is a deeper layer to her work, which brings to light a social commentary behind the apparent easy going nature of her artistic style.  Her varying and diverse characters each play a role, perhaps encompassing the stereotypes we come to accept in the broader social order that exists in South African culture.  For example, the characters in “Choir” appear refined, as a regal conductor leads the stoic singers in what appears to be a formal setting.  On the contrary, the free flowing “Trio” is breezier in flavor, as three men clad in loose robes play their instruments against a scenic, more natural, backdrop.   The clever and playful “Small Town a-buzz” juxtaposes modernity with old-world sentiments.  Chickens wander the streets with buildings displaying Western propaganda, while an old man with a bicycle stands next to a woman with a shiny blue automobile – all of which is perhaps symbolic of the inevitable evolution (and subsequent loss) of traditional country living with the growing influence of Western civilization.  To the naked eye, Adele’s work is a bright and picturesque representation of the varying and quintessential ways of provincial life in South Africa, but beneath the surface, exists an insightful consciousness and keen sense of social awareness of the culture in which she lives.





Laurens Barnard – "Dressupandnowheretogo"

Friday, March 15th, 2013

Barnard’s bright colors and whimsical brush strokes consort on canvas to create a winsome portrait of an adorned woman.  The style of his work resembles Picasso’s use of bold facial structures (particularly seen in the accentuated representation of the nose), and Chagall’s soft elongation of bodily proportions.  However, Barnard’s unique signature can be seen in the final product and execution of his work.  With a filmmaking background, his style of portraiture is presented as a candid snapshot rather than as a typically, stiff posed model.  The widened exaggerated eyes of the woman hint of a state of reverie and solemn longing.

The prescribed title of the work should say it all, but rather than draw a conclusion for the audience, it cleverly raises more questions.  It provokes us to think more elaborately about the greater story that may be behind the snapshot captured by the painting.  “Has she lost a loved one”, “was she stood up by a scoundrel of a lover”… these are just a few questions we may have as we ponder upon the women’s seemingly solemn expression.   Whether its pity or empathy we feel, Barnard has successfully created an atmosphere for emotional response as we’re invited into an intimate relationship with the subject before us.  He reminds us that a great portrait isn’t so much a duplication of a face on canvas with considerable excellence, but rather the ability to capture what’s beneath the surface of appearance.

Barnard has indeed created a colorful caricature of a woman and given us permission to identify or not identify, to empathize, to speculate, to judge, and to wonder; encouraging the exploration of narrative through his artwork.

Adriaan de Lange

Friday, March 15th, 2013

Adriann de Lange’s "Ladies" is an oil on canvas that is highly representative of this accomplished artist’s work. A boldly striped pink couch, two ladies lounging upon it, sits atop a black-and-white checker board laid out in the middle of a grassy field. The top half of the painting is nothing but a stark cerulean blue sky, unrelieved in any way by clouds or foliage. There is, however, a lamp post that cuts through vertically to the very top of the canvas, leaning ever so slightly into the picture’s center. On the opposite side of the couch, a black-and-white Jersey cow turns away to munch the grass. Oddly, one lady seems to have lost her sunhat, and the other, a pink box of chocolates. Both of the lost objects lie on the foreground of the checkerboard like pieces in the game.

De Lange’s work is often whimsical and sometimes downright funny. "Warthog," for example, will not fail to make its viewer at least crack a smile. "Free Tickets" is nothing but a seemingly limitless pile of graphic rectangles in bright primary and secondary colors. No two rectangles are the same or laid down at the same angle. The effect, while somewhat startling, is also one of pure fun and whimsy.


Eliseo Aceto – Elements of the Psyche

Friday, March 15th, 2013

"Elements of the Psyche" is a painting that nicely sums up the attractive collection of artwork in Eliseo Aceto‘s gallery at At once representative and dreamlike, this piece employs the use of mystical symbols, such as its centerpiece nautilus shell, a living tree, and a mysterious chalice that all but fades into the background. With its pleasant lavender and gold palette, this painting would look good on just about any wall.

Although Eliseo is presently based out of South Africa, he was raised in a village in Italy. His life revolves around a pursuit of his two main loves, art and philosophy. It’s easy to see the inspiration of both in his paintings. Surrealistic yet very approachable, his work speaks to the watchful viewer on levels both superficial and profound.

A case in point is the acrylic on canvas simply named "Meditation." This work uses a much more saturated color palette than "Elements of the Psyche," which resembles a watercolor in its lighter range of hues and reflective surfaces. "Meditation is about a Buddha-like visage, surrounded by hectic arcs and bold colors.

"Introspection," on the other hand, is a work that could be comfortably placed between the two pieces already mentioned, in terms of palette depth and punch. An orange swan transforms itself into lovely, sweeping shapes in purple and gold against the indigo pond on which he serenely floats.

A glance at the titles of Eliseo’s paintings tells the whole story of an inquisitive, remarkable artist.

Alick Horne – Girl with Green Clip

Friday, March 15th, 2013

Often working in oil on canvas, artist Alick Horne says his true love is soft pastel. "Girl with Green Clip" is beautifully rendered in soft pastel on Canson paper measuring 20 inches wide by 26 inches in height. In this lovely close-up portrait, a young girl is captured with a subtle tilt to her face, perhaps a bit of an attitude. The viewer knows that, whatever it is she may be thinking, she is focused and intently absorbed.

Alick Horne is one of the best-selling artists on His human and pet portraits are endlessly appealing, and he offers a large collection of close-up floral and wildlife photos as well. "Ballet 1," for example, is a traditional picture of a dancer at the barre, again done in pastels on paper.

An interesting member of Alick’s collection is "Tribute to Manet," appropriately painted with oil on canvas. This piece displays several characters right out of Manet’s world. They have no apparent relation to each other, in fact one figure, a woman on the right quadrant, is even pictured in a completely different environment.

While "Tribute" was sold for over $632, the bulk of work in Horne’s collection go for under $300, and many price tags hover around the $200 range.

Johan Reinecke – Large Elephant Bull and others

Friday, March 15th, 2013

Johan Reineke is a consummate photographer whose passion it is to capture the essence of the magnificent animals who populate South Africa. "Large Elephant Bull" is a classic portrayal of a bull elephant charging straight out of the middle of the canvas into the viewer’s living room. Ears wide and impressive tusks in full view, this magnificent beast means to arrive at his destination, no matter what (or who) is in his way!

"Large Elephant Bull" is a full-color photograph printed on a canvas of 31″by 35″. This is Johan’s preferred technique, but his body of work does include some stunning sepia-toned wildlife photos, as well as black and whites such as "Storm Runners," a beautiful picture of Blue Wildebeests framed by an atmospheric mist.

Elephants are favorite subjects for the photographer. In "Playful Elephants" we are privileged to be able to watch a scene that brings a smile, along with a sense of awe. Two elephants are deeply involved in friendly play, enjoying a sunny day on the grassy plain.

"Capturing that one moment in time that will never be repeated again," says Johan, is what drives his passion for South African wildlife photography. This can be clearly witnessed in "The Eye of a Killer," a well-cropped portrait of the determined cheetah, right before making a kill. This photo, perhaps more than any other  in Reineke’s gallery on, makes us witnesses to an extraordinary moment. The dispassionate look in the cheetah’s eye says to its prey, "Nothing personal."


Gerald Dressel – "Reflections on Water"

Wednesday, March 13th, 2013

Perplexity, wonder, and awe are amongst a few emotions Dressel is able to conjure up through his work.  The use of bold, unapologetic brush strokes deriving from multiple techniques pays homage to some of the greatest enduring methods of modern artistic expression.  The end result is art that is uncommon, mysteriously charming, and celestial in nature.  The playful use of color and texture are layered to create an otherworldly landscape with gentle ripples and reflections.  The abstract image leaves room for the viewer to apply their own playfulness, inviting the audience to participate with the artist in the completion of the work.  What one sees in the reflection is left open to one’s own ingenuity, reminding us that art, whether made or interpreted, cannot exist without the wonder of imagination.


Andrew Holmes – "Solitude"

Wednesday, March 13th, 2013

The saying goes that in the twilight hours, one sees but does not hear.  Each element in the composition is unobtrusive and muted in its tone, as though prepared to make a final exit against the glowing skyline.  Holmes captures a languishing sunset with sophistication and grace.  The simplistic and sparse setting, combined with the lean color palette sets the stage for quiet, visual contemplation.  The orange embers of a finishing day seamlessly usher in the cool, blue and violet tones of impending night.    The silhouette of a single barren tree amidst the emptiness of the terrain reminds of us that life is still present.  It is unclear whether this life is fading or entering, perhaps purposefully ambiguous; so as to leave the interpretation open for contemplation in the viewer’s own thoughts.

Theo Wentzel – "Cape Dutch Home"

Wednesday, March 13th, 2013

Theo Wentzel‘s charming collection of acrylic on presents the work of a classical artist who is passionate about South African sights, landscapes, wildlife and people. Each category is well-represented here, in a style that is at once realistic and pleasantly Wentzel’s own.

"Cape Dutch Home" is a quintessential example of Wentzel’s approach and artistic sensibilities. In it, we see the entryway and ornate facade of a beautiful building, displayed with photographic realism combined with the artist’s remarkable attention to shading. The decorative entry juts up above the roof of the building and its shape is subtly mirrored in a far-away high mountain in the background. The viewer feels that they have landed in a welcoming place, worth exploring.

"Female Mat Weaver, KZN" is a striking three-quarters portrait of an indigenous woman in the process of weaving a mat by hand. Most of the picture is occupied by the indigo-colored walls of her room, and she wears a bright red hat on her head and an interesting, noncommittal expression on her face. We keep coming back to that visage, wondering what she could be thinking while her hands work busily away creating something of practical use.

"Nyala Ewes, Kruger National Park" is a stunning acrylic on paper featuring the attractive faces of three Nyala ewes, each with their oversized ears and huge eyes. They are lined up, one behind the other, in a protective formation that’s also extremely artistic. Wentzel has a fine eye for both composition and communication in two dimensions.