Archive for May, 2013

Ettienne du Plessis – "Koffiebus en Teebus"

Saturday, May 11th, 2013

Enamored by all aspects of art since he was a very small child, Ettienne de Plessis has blossomed into a very fine painter indeed. His online gallery consists solely of landscapes, mostly carried out in a staid, classically expressionistic style. His paintings sometime contain references to a great master such as Van Gogh, which is the case in "After the Rain" and "After the Rain 2." Both show dramatic landscapes in front of a sky full of swirling clouds. In "After the Rain 2," these white swirls on a solid, grey-green sky threaten to take over the painting, but greatly enhance it instead.

"Koffiebus en Teebus" is a dazzling landscape executed in acrylic on a canvas measuring 24″ wide by 16″ high. It depicts a rich, golden plain in the foreground, which occupies more than half of the canvas. On the horizon are several mesas with unusual shapes reminiscent of the Egyptian pyramids. A loose-wash sky reigns over all. One of the principle interests in this acrylic is the contrast between the heavily shadowed purple mesas and the russet golds of the plain before them.

"Vroegwintersoggend" is a remarkable landscape depicting a snowy plain and a wintry-white sky. There are two major features that draw the eye and captivate it. One is a wide, uneven black strip on the horizon which divides the sky from the middle and foregrounds. The other is a bright red circle, extraordinarily placed on the far right-hand corner of the horizon. The effect is extremely abstract and refreshing.

Ella Ahlers – Pelicans and Berg River Houses

Saturday, May 11th, 2013

From first impression Pelicans and Berg River Houses appears to be more of an oil piece than an acrylic work, showcasing an interesting set of skills that Ella Ahlers contains. It is not a surprise that even while being an acrylic piece the view is very oil like, Ahlers started her artistic career working with the oil medium before transitioning over the acrylics and inks. After making the transition it is not a surprise that the methodology would carry over.

The pelicans floating upon the Berg River described as “delicate lilies” by Ahlers herself could not be more accurate, observing the piece the pelicans are a soft almost angelic contrast to the dark tones of the river they are floating upon together. While not being painted in a realist style of work it gives the viewer what feels like a very real view of the river and homes, so much so that we could hear the flowing water, smell the drying grass, and hear those living in the homes by the river. The piece is soft and inviting and muted at the same time. The dark tones off of the homes and especially the river do not detract from the river but rather strengthen it, if the piece was filled with brighter coloration it would certainly lack its feel and the once delicate, angelic pelicans would no longer provide the contrast that gives them their soft pillow like appearance.

Ahlers has many other similar pieces in her portfolio focused on the beauty of nature, often very simple scenes (in subject), such as this here or a simple shore with a centrally focused boat. The importance is the manner in which she presents them. If it was simply just these items painted it would be nothing more than a record of a scene in a landscape but with her abilities to give us more we are taken on an emotional journey and allow ourselves to feel what it is to be in these areas of South Africa, to feel the richness of "where the river, sea, and land meet" as she puts it.

Pelicans and Berg River Houses is an Acrylic piece, measuring 17” x 12” and is framed.

Vivienne Gadd – "Sleeping Lion"

Saturday, May 11th, 2013

Vivienne Gadd is a mostly self-taught artist working exclusively in oils. She has a wonderful, friendly eye for her subjects, which mainly include the various exotic wildlife of South Africa. Her paintings are inevitably endearing portraits, usually closeups, rarely from afar. She will often choose to depict just the face of one of these noble beasts, such as in "Tiger" or "Wolf." Somewhat illustrative in nature, these oil paintings are dramatic and beautifully executed.

"Sleeping Lion" is a standout among her present online collection. There’s an irrefutable sweetness to this loving painting of the lion, who is posed with his sleeping head resting comfortably on big paws. The artist has placed a thick, pitch-black base under the subject, a nice touch that firmly grounds the painting and separates it from the background. The work measures 20″ by 20″, and brings the viewer in close to the gorgeous animal’s face and mane. Carried out in a lovely style that resembles watercolors, "Sleeping Lion" nevertheless has all the appropriate fine strokes for texture and delineation.

"African Wild Dog" is another unusual animal portrait. In this canvas, we see the fabulously marked head and contrasting patterns on the entire back of the creature, caught in the act of looking back over his shoulder. Perhaps he has heard something that needs investigation.

It’s quite evident that Vivienne looks for ways to paint her subjects that are unusual. "Too Cheetahs" bring us an amazing portrait of the big cats grooming one another affectionately, a good example of her unique approach.


Nicolene Gericke – "Shell Festival"

Saturday, May 11th, 2013

With a Fine Arts diploma from the University of Cape Town and abundant exhibitions, Nicolene Gericke is a well-known fixture in the South African arts community. Her online collection has a wide price range, and includes a number of different subjects, themes, and approaches.

"Shell Festival" is in the lower spectrum of prices, but a valuable work, nevertheless. The first thing one notices when viewing this piece is its unusually narrow shape. It’s an oil on a board measuring a full four feet high and just a little over one foot wide. The subjects are shells, a wild array of them, set in a vertical row, one atop the other. The composition is imminently pleasant, and the shells are faithfully depicted. The color palette ranges from white to blues and greens, with a rusty sienna in the graduated background.

A remarkable work called "Vineyards at DeDoorns" is at the top of Gericke’s price range in this grouping. It’s a splendid landscape that the artist created from a photograph, though it is masterfully painterly in nature. A quilt of farms, framed by a foreground and background of hills, with rugged white mountains behind them and a blue-white sky above them comprises this charming piece.

"A Million Dollar View" is a stunning landscape depicting a farm with several structures on a wide-open plane. A storm is brewing, affecting the lighting that sweeps the multi-colored fields below. The dramatic play of light and dark gives this work an expressionistic nature.

Fanie Scholtz – "Afternoon Breeze 1″

Saturday, May 11th, 2013

Fanie Scholtz is an accomplished artist who prefers to work in oils or acrylics. Most of his pieces are idyllic landscapes, but several portraits and some more contemporary paintings, such as "Autumn Hills 2" and "Small Pot 4," can be found in his extensive online collection.

Scholtz lives on a farm in Cape Town, taking inspiration from the scenes around him. This is the kind of artist that can make something beautiful on canvas out of a seemingly uninteresting, rocky desert.

"Afternoon Breeze 1" is a favorite among his current collection. Beautifully expressive, it’s a nice-sized oil on a canvas measuring 39″ wide by 24″ high. It features an abstract-looking plain on a breezy, sunny day. Three horizontal strips, decorated with well-considered textures and broad-to-fine brush strokes, are all it takes this artist to set the attractive scene. The top half of the picture is devoted to a gorgeous, deep blue sky with wispy indications of clouds. The bottom half is divided into a yellow field, which is the middle ground, and an orange field, which is the foreground. Simplistic as it sounds, this is nevertheless a stunning painting.

"Tankwa River" can probably be considered a painting more like the ones Scholtz usually makes. It’s a delightful portrayal of a river cutting through a shore lined with rocks on one side and lush trees on the other. In the distance is a line of trees, and behind that a low, lavender mountain.

Scholtz’ work possesses a uniquely lovely perspective.

Taju – FIFA World Cup Official Fine Art

Saturday, May 11th, 2013

Taju is one of the artists whose work carries the prestigious acknowledgement of 2010 FIFA World Cup Official Licensed Products.

Taju creates appealing pictures of cartoon-like stick figures out of cotton rag mixed media. These figures are all displayed in various stages of animation during the popular game of soccer. They wear the usual shorts, soccer shoes with cleats, and tee shirts, and there’s always a black-and-white soccer ball somewhere around them on the canvas. But that is where the similarity to real life stops.

The Taju soccer player has very thin arms and legs with small rectangles to indicate the hands, elbows and knees. Their faces are reminiscent of deer, or possibly reindeer, since they all have what looks like antlers or antennae coming out of the tops of their heads.

One of the most startling aspects of Taju’s soccer players is that they all have only one eye. The eye is a big white circle with a small black circle inside of it, and it’s almost always placed, not in the middle of the forehead, as for a cyclops, but on one side, the left.

"Soccer Players 5" is a good example of Taju’s iconic work. It represents something of a departure from his norm, since the one eye on one of the soccer players depicted is placed in the center of the face.

Soccer fans the world over can recognize a Taju piece at a glance, because of their unique figures and the similarity between each work in his amazing collection.

Gerda Claassen – "Unusual Conversations"

Saturday, May 11th, 2013

Gerda Claassen‘s artistic endeavors often feature the same recurring theme. It’s a moody time of day, with dramatic, somewhat somber lighting. We’re inside a room, and there is nothing but the room and its furniture to give us a clue of this moment frozen in time. Sometimes, as with "Days of Wine and Roses," the title will shed a little light about how to read the atmosphere. Regardless of our interpretation, positive or negative, we are witnesses to a scene that feels, somehow, evocative.

"Unusual Conversations" is an excellent case in point. It shows a corner of a room somewhat crowded with bulky furniture. A fire blazes in the fireplace at the back of the canvas, and it’s still somewhat light outside the window behind a comfy blue armchair. In the foreground are two wine glasses on low tables, but there are no inhabitants to be seen.

"That realism wasn’t sufficient for me struck me at a time when I started painting more from the heart than from the head." Those are Gerda’s own words, yet these interiors, while not photo-realistic, are nevertheless not abstracts. One feels, in fact, that one could easily slip into such rooms and make oneself at home.

A few true modern abstracts grace Gerda’s collection online. "As the Crow Flies" is an attractive, free-wheeling canvas, very large and delivered in a splashy style. Plenty of unrecognizable shapes all but obscure some figures that might very well be references to ancient painted figures on the wall of a cave.


Michiel Cruywagen – "Roses in Copper Bowl"

Saturday, May 11th, 2013

Michiel Cruywagen has a small but appealing gallery online, consisting of attractive paintings within a nice price range. His style ranges from the classically impressionistic to the Neo Cubist, and his subjects are faithfully depicted in well-chosen color palettes.

Cruywagen’s oil on canvas called "Roses in Copper Bowl" is a good-sized painting, at 34″ wide by 23″ high. It pictures exactly what the title promises, in an inimitably traditional manner. The flowers are in their prime and practically singing, nicely placed inside a copper-colored bowl. Around and behind the flowers is an abstract middle ground and background, while the foreground is carried out in a solid light salmon color. This classic piece would make a nice addition to just about any setting.

Cruywagen has published a seascape in this online collection. This is a noble portrayal of the ocean, presumably at high tide, when the waves are smashing against a rocky shore. The piece is called "Sardinia Bay," taken from the location itself. Of this piece, the artist says it was the light from the stormy sky, reflected all over the water that attracted him to the scene.

A favorite in this group of paintings is called "Xhosa Living." This picture is different from the others, more cubistic in style, and very graphic. It displays a charming village by the water, blue hills in the background and a stormy sunset above. The buildings are outlined in bold strokes and the colors are exceptionally intense.


Liz Williams – "Deshabille"

Saturday, May 11th, 2013

Liz Williams lives in Portugal currently, though she was born in the Eastern Cape. Heavily influenced by icons of art such as Matisse, Van Gogh and Chagall, she nevertheless displays a firm grasp on her own unique perspective. Liz chooses to portray mostly still lifes and interiors in her work. When she includes a figure, it will almost always be small and beside the point, compared to the lavishly fitted shapes and forms surrounding them. This can be seen in "Pink Mermaid," where the title subject is relegated to an unimportant position in the background.

"Deshabille" is a departure from this rule, however. The star of the show here is a provocatively placed nude reclining on her back in nothing but high heeled shoes. All around her is evidence of a life lived in luxury, made even more enticing by the use of glitter the artist employs on the canvas collage. The frilly room is laden with fanciful flowers on a table, repeated in a big mirror on the back wall and the carpet on which the figure lies. They are boldly outlined and somewhat graphic in nature, reminiscent of Chagall’s ubiquitous flowers.

"3 Cats Watching TV" is like a puzzle where you must search for the subject, hidden among the forms. This interesting painting is deceptively childlike, featuring a deeply expressionistic portrayal of festive shapes in a room. There is one possible cat in the room, which could actually be nothing but a decorative ottoman. It’s a happy-go-lucky, somehow satisfying picture.



Jo Holtzkamp – "The Musician and His Number One Fan"

Saturday, May 11th, 2013

Abstract artist Jo Holtzkamp is a fearless experimenter in the mixed media venues of her chosen work. She uses everything from photography to collage to mixed media to come up with small "jewels of expression," as she calls them. Nearly every canvas in her online collection is a pure abstract, employing mainly vague rectangular shapes with heavy emphasis on texture and contemporary, chic color palettes.

A few pieces, such as "The Musician and His Number One Fan," incorporate figures that are recognizable. In this case, the musician is holding what looks to be a guitar. He may also have the mouthpiece of a horn at his lips, but we’re unsure as witnesses. A nebulous shape that could be the face of his number one fan mirrors the musician’s, and all around them are handsome palette-knife created textures in slate blue, rust, and light yellow-green.

"Red Door" is a wonderful little abstract number done up in delicious blues and greens. In the bottom right-hand quadrant, among all the other abstract shapes, is a large reddish rectangle. We assume it’s the door in the title, but one never knows for sure.

"Inspiration" is a mixed media portrayal of a balloon. Dark red in color and floating upward on a thin, tenuous black string, the balloon is shown in a tall, narrow space filled with turquoise, purple, and emerald shapes. At once quite abstract yet understandable, this is a delightful picture.