Archive for the ‘Review’ Category

Mike Cloran – "Swartberg – Karoo"

Thursday, June 20th, 2013

Mike Cloran offers up in this online gallery a collection of landscapes of sweeping proportions and scope. Working exclusively in acrylics on large canvas boards, Cloran has a style that is given over to the capture, in photographic realism, of details of the scene before him, down to the last pebble on the ground an leave on every bush. "Montagu Karro" is a prime example of this tightly controlled, successful approach to his subjects. It depicts hilly vistas on a blue-sky background in exquisite detail.

While the artist’s paintings are carried out with extraordinarily minute precision, they are nevertheless anything but constrained. Take a look at "Karasberg Namibia" and you’ll find a good sample of the way Namibia portrays a landscape in a style that is at once hard-hitting and bordering on static. Much of the reason for this apparent and interesting contrast within each canvas can be attributed to the artist’s bold and consistent use of contrast through shadows.

"Swartberg – Karoo" is a dramatic example of this very technique. In fact, all the best of Cloran’s tricks of the trade are assembled together in this vibrant painting, which measures 47″ wide by 35″ high. An enormous plain stretches out before the viewer, pulling him in to travel past the hilly horizon to the cloud-bedecked blue sky beyond. Overarching everything is a remarkable effect granted by frilly cirrus clouds of white and their deepening shadows on the highly detailed field in the foreground. It’s a fascinating effect, indeed.

Johan Kock – "Overberg in Autumn"

Thursday, June 20th, 2013

Johan Kok has a lovely way about him with the landscape, water, and animate subjects. "My goal is to share the beauty of creation and life through my paintings," says Kok, and he is a gifted artist who has been able to succeed at his goal. His paintings, all in oil, have enormous depth and liveliness, and he thoroughly understands the importance of light, dark, rhythm, and composition in painting. In "Farm Gate in Shadow," a fine example, we see a stunning, high-contrast painting of a field with a line of dark trees, beautifully executed, and a palette-knife created gold field before it.

"Overberg in Autumn" is a real beauty among this lovely collection. Also a landscape, it depicts a rhythmic South African field in sophisticated shades of purple and light sienna, punctuated by very dark olive-green rows of trees, zig-zagging in the distance. The sweep of the land, subtly depicted by the artist with a respectful eye for the beautiful vision before him, is what brings this particularly attractive painting to life. Tidy round bales of hay in rows give a sense of order to the scene and remind us of similarly moving landscapes of the French impressionists.

Another very successful piece, "Marienfluss Vista," also adorns this grouping. Like Kok’s other landscapes, it is generously graceful and appealing, though its price tag is wildly different. This is perhaps quite understandable, given that the painting’s dimensions are on a much larger scale.




Moxy Hart – "Boxlight 9″

Thursday, June 20th, 2013

While Moxy Hart himself calls words "mere utterances, black on white" and lays claim to seeing his world in "big, bold, bright, fantastic technicolor," a good portion of his extensive online collection here is in black and white or monochromes. Nevertheless, they, along with his oil paintings and other pieces, display a rare facility and deep skill in whatever material he chooses to work with. This applies equally to all his work, whether it’s a simple charcoal sketch such as "Oatmeal Nude 18," or a large oil on canvas, such as "Ask." Hart’s preferred subject is the nude male form, and he has done many wonderfully wrought studies, which are included in this gallery.

Hart’s pictures run the gamut in price tags, from truly affordable charcoal sketches, such as "Oatmeal Nude 22" to the truly impressive "Lars in 3," an oil measuring 39″ by 39″. To get a good idea of Hart’s devotion to the photo-realistic portrayal of the human body, see "Leg & Thigh Diptych," a mixed-media oil painting in two parts, and one of his best efforts.

"Boxlight 9" is one of a few laser-cut perspex creations in this grouping that occupy the lower range of prices. It depicts six black silhouettes of figures wearing cowboy hats, all standing in front of an enormous sunset. This interesting piece is a departure from Hart’s two-dimensional norm. True to its name, it’s a box with a light in it that shows through the perspex figures, illuminating them.





Belinda Cloete – "Catherine Zeta Jones" and "Flower in Vase"

Thursday, June 20th, 2013

Artist Belinda Cloete has a small but powerful online gallery here. One of her interests is to draw or paint pictures of famous people. She shows an amazing facility in this collection for both pencil and pastels, along with a great understanding of the shading techniques so necessary for turning out a believable picture in either of these mediums.

"Catherine Zeta Jones" is a pencil drawing in which Cloete has faithfully reproduced a lovely portrait of the famous actress. She is looking provocatively over her left shoulder at the viewer, lips slightly open, long, thick hair messy yet pretty. The white garment Zeta Jones is wearing in this picture is a lightweight wraparound dress with lots of interesting wrinkles and folds, which the artist has executed with her usual precision. An indeterminate background consists of hints of furniture and other interior decor. This picture is done in pencil and measures 16″ wide by 22″ tall.

"Flower in Vase"presents the viewer with a single yellow lily in a glass vase. This is a consummate pastel that also measures 16″ wide by 22″ high, but other than the size and perfection of technique, that is where the similarities between the two works end. "Flower in Vase" has a rich gold-and-green color palette and nice composition. The main point of fascination for the viewer, however, is the photographic quality of this pastel painting. Glass and reflections are especially difficult to portray with pastels, yet Cloete does so successfully and effortlessly.

Raymond Andrews – "The Protecting Hands"

Thursday, June 20th, 2013

Raymond Andrews was born in London and studied at the Technical College there. An unusual artist, Andrews works exclusively on wood panels or incised wood in oil. He has achieved a great deal of success in his chosen artistic niche, and for good reason. His work is, above all, unique, but also beautifully executed by an artist with a gift, a passion, and superb technique.

His choice of subject material is likewise individualistic, and one can spot his style easily therefore. Graphic or illustrative in the main, it incorporates symbolic and mythological figures for the most part as its subjects, although a few pieces, such as "Between Heaven and Earth" depart from the norm into a more painterly realm.

All of Andrews’ pieces are quite appealing, and "The Protecting Hands" could be considered a fitting showpiece for his online collection. This is a striking, high-contrast painting on incised board, created with gold leaf and oil paints. It is symbolic in nature, and decorative, with a deep indigo background that sets off dozens of geometrical shapes in lovely blues, greens, and golds. A symbolic tower is placed in the center of the painting, and shapes such as blue wings with bold, graphic textures surround it. On the top and the bottom of the tower are green bird-like figures and at its base are two open hands, in gold leaf.

To create stunning, evocative works such as Andrews’, one must have a firm grasp on what works and what does not in composition, contrast, and style.

Anneri Marais – "Sea Turtle"

Thursday, June 20th, 2013

Anneri Marais is a consummate pastel artist who creates portraits in that medium on commission. She works from studio photographs to capture the exact proportions of the portrait’s subject, and makes her magic using a good sense of drama in shadow, lighting and expression. "Body" is a showpiece for Marais’ considerable grasp on the subtle techniques required to make a good pastel picture, worth the fine art label. "Mernice" is a magnificent pastel closeup of a young girl smiling, another showpiece.

The artist has recently become captivated by the use of driftwood in rustic sculptures. "Choose to Say" is a perfect ambassador for this type of sculpture, an impressive full figure made entirely of driftwood pieces. Marais has also done a series of driftwood frames for mirrors, of which "Mirror 1" is a good example. The frames constitute the work of art and are created completely in driftwood. "Cross" is a lovely piece made of small pieces of driftwood, judiciously placed, a perfect material for this classic, meaningful symbol. This is a large piece, measuring 39″ wide by a full 63″ tall, the height of many of the people who would stand by it.

"Sea Turtle" is a unique sculpture, also made completely of driftwood. The turtle is displayed in its entirety using built-up, small pieces of wood worn smooth. The effect is one in which texture and gradations of color are paramount and the very audacity of the sculpture’s creation makes the witness smile.

Div de Villiers – "The Boxed Comparisons Cabinet"

Thursday, June 20th, 2013

Div de Villiers is a sculptor whose medium of preference is wood. The artist shows a nice facility in the techniques of wood carving throughout this online collection. There is also evidence of a good familiarity with the special technical ability required to work with wood and metals such as copper in combination. "Yellow Wood Shama" is a great example of the latter type of sculpture from de Villiers. It employs a well-executed combination of yellow wood, creating a sleek bird figure, and brass, which acts as the bird’s legs. Another work that combines wood and metal is "Ash Wednesday," a highly polished abstract sculpture of a female form. In "The Perfect Day," we see copper strips with pounded texture used to enhance three fanciful human figures made of warm rosewood.

De Villiers’ multi-dimensional sculpture called "The Boxed Comparisons Cabinet" is one of his most interesting pieces. It consists of two groupings of blond poplar frames in various sizes, offset on two fold-out planes. Inside each light-colored wood frame are small compositions made of purple heart wood, which is a beautiful shade of mahogany. The two different woods contrast nicely with each other, and each holds its own in terms of having good reason for being.

The different "pictures" created by the purple heart wood inside the blond frames give this fun "cabinet" endless fascination and appeal for the viewer. The idea for this sculpture was simple, but the end result is anything but simplistic.



Anna-Mare Buys – "Cosmos – Eastern Free State"

Thursday, June 20th, 2013

Anna-Mare Buys is a traditional artist working in both acrylics and oils on canvas. She likes to paint mostly landscapes and seascapes, but also dabbles in florals and the occasional portrait. Buys calls her painting style "impressionistic-realistic," which is a good way to describe it, but doesn’t get at the heart of her talent. Strong on composition and the attractive use of bold textures and brush strokes, Buys’ greatest gift is her color palettes. They are inevitably sumptuous and delightful, offering enormous depth and attraction. At times, the fearlessness of Buys’ approach is reminiscent of some of the impressionistic masters. This can be seen in "Before the Storm," a work that immediately grabs hold of the viewers and draws them into the dramatic stormy landscape, not taking No for an answer.

"Cosmos – Eastern Free State" is a beautiful oil, executed in Buys’ most unabashed style. Full of dark and light contrast and done up in lovely complementary shades of off-green and magenta, this painting is extremely sensual and luscious. Very simple in its composition, it portrays an indeterminate building on an estate with a sweeping lawn and tall, narrow trees in front of a blue sky with classic white clouds. In the foreground is a field of magnificent dark pink flowers, covering nearly the full bottom half of the canvas. What makes the flowers so extraordinary is that they are created with nothing but impressionistic blotches over a huge background of near-black, darkest magenta.

Theo Kleynhans – "Quench my Soul"

Thursday, June 20th, 2013

Theo Kleynhans is a deeply philosophical artist who uses his work to explore profound subjects such as memory and loss. "The mere fact that memory exists," he says, "is a portent of loss." In his paintings, he strives for what he calls "universal impact," drawing on the emotional states we all share that move us.

Abstract as Kleynhans’ intellectual approach to art may be, one could not classify it as strictly abstract art. Each canvas incorporates figures and symbols that are immediately identifiable, as in "Trancendental Memory," a gorgeously provocative, fantasy-laden acrylic. There are even some with photo-realistic subjects, such as "The Heart is a Lonely Hunter," another acrylic, also thought-provoking. "Do You Remember the Time" is a fine example of Kleynhans’ penchant for combining the utterly realistic graphic with the abstract-expressionistic.  In "Mutus Liber (The Mute Book)," we see an example  of the artist’s use of text to subtly decorate the background and enhance a picture.

"Quench my Soul" is a typical Kleynhans etching. These works are on the small side, measuring 14″ wide by 20″ high, and the color palette is a pleasant monochrome in shades of sepia. It is obvious that the artist is concentrating on drawing the viewer in and making him think. Symbols abound in "Quench my Soul" and the painting itself is fascinating. Large lily blossoms hover in the center of the canvas above a high-contrast grid below. Above them is a small rain cloud. Looking closer, we can see the flowers may represent a person’s third eye.



Monique Crookes – "Two Zebra"

Thursday, June 20th, 2013

Monique Crookes is self-taught and her work exhibits a great flair for drawing and illustration abilities. She paints using mostly acrylics and a mixed medium with watercolors and creates pictures of a wide range of subjects, from fantasy abstracts to dramatic portraits of African wildlife. Many of her paintings have a stylish graphic nature, such as is the case with "Leopard" and "Uno," a striking portrait of a white lily with fanciful yellow globes on a maroon background.

Crookes frequently shows a gentleness in her work that contrasts pleasantly with her mostly very graphic subjects. "Two by Two" is a lovely example of this overall aesthetic. It shows silhouettes of two giraffes standing next to one another in stark shadows, while busy gold and red globes threaten to take over the background behind them.

"Two Zebra" is a masterfully accomplished acrylic depicting the faces of two zebras nuzzling the ground, nose-to-nose. Crookes has taken full advantage of the amazing black and white markings of the zebras to create an interesting, very graphic painting. There is a sweet, highly approachable look in the zebra’s eyes that communicates clearly they are not to be feared, but loved.

To see a representative abstract by this artist, visit "Window," a remarkable canvas divided into six rectangles and saturated with her now-familiar circular and oval shapes. This picture, which measures 40″ by 30″, uses hugely satisfying high contrasts in color, light and shadow to create large diamond shapes beyond the "window."