Posts Tagged ‘African art’

Musing for October : Some of the old snobbery is fading…

Monday, October 12th, 2009

Bonham’s in London are holding a specialist South African auction over two days later this month with a wide and interesting selection of works from the great and the good (and indeed predominantly deceased) of the South African art world.

With around 300 lots in all there is quite a mixture of styles and, if the estimates are anything to go by (though some of them seem to be chosen very oddly!), prices.

The first day concerns itself mainly with earlier works but has some interesting items from George Boys and Errol Boyley On Day 2 there are some very fine Pembas on offer and also some quite appealing works from lesser known artists. There are a number of pieces from Francois Krige including the Rousseau-esque "Krisjan Sleeping" and a selection of his landscapes. The more contemporary items on offer include some distinctive works from Norman Catherine (with fairly modest estimates attached to them) and some acid house Mary-Ann Orrs. There’s an estimate of around $8,000 on a signed Nelson Mandela lithograph depicting Table Mountain from his cell window on Robben Island – it may not be the most accomplished work of art but it clearly has a powerful message. Dylan Lewis has some fine bronzes in the sale which may draw some attention.

It’s encouraging to see this event which appears to be attracting considerable interest and it will be interesting to see quite how the hammer falls on the day. By the way, should we be surprised that there’s not a Petrie to be seen anywhere in the listings!

– Mark Hayhurst

Send a SouthAfricanArtists eCard to someone today

You can follow us on Twitter

Follow us on Twitter to hear about new listed artists and other snippets of information. You can also tweet from the artists’ listing pages to tell your friends about the great art you’ve discovered on !

It isn’t intended to be irreverent but the Bonham’s event does bring to mind the Monty Python song "The Decomposing Composers" – there’s less of them every year. Every one of the following artists is, we are delighted to confirm, still above ground and producing some of their best works to date:

"Galloping zebra"
by Doreen Straarup
As a self-taught artist, Doreen’s work in oils is well accomplished and this and a number of her other works demonstrate a good eye for composition and an ability to adapt to different subjects.
There is a real delight in Gary’s works and it is evident from the titles and meaning he places on these pieces that they really are works that come from his heart.
"Earth meets sky"
by Gary Frier

"Modern Landscape"
by Richard Rennie
Employing an interesting palette of color, especially for works in oils, Richard’s landscapes are calm and beautiful with delicate brushstrokes and a good measure of detail.
Nikodemis’s lively pieces are always popular and this quirky mixed media piece portrays mischief as well as creativity.
"The angel of heaven and earth"
by Nikodemis van Rensburg

"Desert Storm/Cedar Mountains"
by Freda Hayward
Equally capable with portaiture and landscapes, Freda’s most recent works, including this atmospheric country scene, are  attracting a lot of attention.
I’m sure we’re going to see lot more from Rene. She tells a story with skill and sensitivity in this work and in her portfolio has a number of really striking pieces.
"Where is My Children"
by Rene Snyman

" Art evokes the mystery without which the world would not exist. "
- René Magritte

New Artists

We have talented new artists coming on the site all the time and in recent weeks we have welcomed the following who have already listed a number of excellent works:

" If people knew how hard I worked to get my mastery, it wouldn’t seem so wonderful at all. "
- Michelangelo

Musing for September: Things are not always what they seem…

Thursday, September 17th, 2009

We very occasionally have to deal with "customers" offering fake credit cards; we even sometimes find out that works people want to offer for sale are not genuine but it’s a one-off that we get approached to list an artist who may not even exist!

A couple of months ago we received an application from someone to list "Helen Anne Petrie", a South African who appears to have lived in relative obscurity from 1932 until her death in 2006. There began a story which continues to unfold even as I write this. Shortly after we listed the artist we were contacted by The Times who were trying to determine the veracity of certain claims made by the lister in the biography that had been put forward for this artist. A number of articles have appeared in the major press casting significant doubt over the history that has been written for our Miss Petrie.

The artist seems to have burst onto the scene only very recently and what background information there is emanates from a very limited set of sources (perhaps even limited to a single individual). A google of Helen Anne Petrie yields plenty of results yet the pages which are returned either describe the alleged fraudulent sales perpetrated in promoting the artist using a false history or are simply versions on art sites (our very own included) of the questionable biography itself. Our own investigations have determined that while it would appear that Helen Anne Petrie did exist and may have been painted during her life, at least some of the claims which would lend weight to her having a profile worthy of serious collectors are definitely incorrect. Subsequent to the publication of the stories in the press we received scans of a number of documents by email, probably from the original lister (an elusive character to say the least), which show some basic school records and personal correspondence yet nothing to support the bold claims that her work has long been held in public and private collections around the world. The material resembled something that might have turned up in an old trunk purchased at a Sunday car boot sale.

To date we have been unable to find any independent and authoritative validation of the claims made for Miss Petrie as an artist. If anyone has anything to add then we would be fascinated to hear it. It does rather come back to the best advice we can give – buy your art because of its beauty and merit in its own right and not on the back of any collateral claims that cannot be verified.

- Mark Hayhurst

Send a SouthAfricanArtists eCard to someone today

You can follow us on Twitter

Follow us on Twitter to hear about new listed artists and other snippets of information. You can also tweet from the artists’ listing pages to tell your friends about the great art you’ve discovered on !

We’re able to vouch 100% that the artists below exist! Here’s our latest pick of superb talent that you should check out:

"Empress close-up"
by Fiona Almeleh

Fiona’s works are always lively and bright and this embroidered piece is just stunning. The Empress – matriarch of the Tarot – resplendent with wisdom and knowledge.

Perhaps in a similar vein the works of Dulcie Robinson show an inner depth that brings a message with every piece. This wonderful acrylic shows the marriage of the ethnic and the ethereal.

"Circle of Life"
by Dulcie Robinson

"Leave tree"
by Carl Roberts

We’ve not featured too many sculptures recently but among the many talented sculptors on the site, Carl has a range of different pieces of varying sizes and budget. This tree-mendous wood sculpture is one great example.

Dodds can tun his hand to a variety of styles but some of his best and most popular at seascaps such as this one. A rich and colourful work in oil where you can smell the sea and feel the sand beneath your feet.

"Seal Point Beachbreak"
by Dodds Blom

"Northern Cape Mountain Scene"
by Dante Ruben

Dante is having an extended "blue period" and has produced some very appealing landscapes. This atmospheric mountain scene has good composition and depth and really draws you in.

Somewhat reminiscent of 1970s Vietnam-era pop art, this acrylic on board work is an intriguing piece. Theo has a number of different styles in his portfolio and each work has a message if you are prepared to listen.

"The Heart is a Lonely Hunter"
by Theo Kleynhans

" Don’t pay any attention to what they write about you. Just measure it in inches. "
- Andy Warhol

New Artists

We have talented new artists coming on the site all the time and in recent weeks we have welcomed the following who have already listed a number of excellent works:

" There comes a point where you see it all as completely empty being a popular artist to the extent that people who are not necessarily interested in art know about things or take some little interest. I think that now for me it’s a burden. It’s a bit hard to deal with and it wastes time as well. "
- David Hockney

Tell us how we’re doing!

As ever we would welcome any feedback and comments you might have. Feel free to drop us a line ( ) with any comments or ideas you might have for promoting these superb artists even more widely. We also welcome art-themed submissions for our regular newsletters of short stories or anecdotes about art, your experiences, what inspired you or anything that you think may be of interest.

Yours in inspiration,

All the team at
The very best of South African art online

Some October favourites:

Thursday, October 16th, 2008

"Day in Africa"  by Dulcie Robinson is an excitingly expressionist work, a mixed media creation of found objects and hand made paper.  Dulcie’s work aims to recreate the feeling of her subjects, in this case a day in Africa with all its sights, smells and textures, rather than to produce an exact copy of a landscape, flower or object.   Her comment that, in her flower paintings, she paints "the perfume of the flowers" rather than copying their images seems to be beautifully relevant here too.  The spicy, earthy colours she has used suggest scents of cooking, of nature, of the heat itself. 

The use of found objects seems suitably sympathetic to the subject, as if she has gathered things during the course of her day and then used them to describe that day in artistic form.  The curving forms of wire and string against the very pale paper suggest engravings on rock, or perhaps, with their upwardly curving motion, they are a  heat haze rising against a brilliant day.

This is a work full of delicate yet arresting textural and tonal contrasts and in the heart of it a small, human like figure appears to be wrapped or captured. His/her presence infers that the piece is a landscape or timescape, simply by virtue of scale.   As with the whole of the piece, one is drawn first to one interpretation then to another – is he captured or enraptured by the day?   Is he toiling on the land?  

The one thing this work certainly does is stimulate thought and will undoubtedy provoke conversation and analysis wherever it is disaplayed.  Being small and detailed it would look best with a simple background, perhaps in a room with strong light to make the most of the shadows that will be cast onto the paper by the found objects.

Know the Different Materials Used for Tribal Masks

Thursday, October 16th, 2008

The fascinating tribal masks are an indication of rich and diverse African tribal art. The masks of each tribal group have some unique characteristics which helpd in establishing its own identity. Each tribal community uses different type of material to make their masks.

Usually wood is the primary material used to make tribal masks. The people of Nkambe tribe always use a wooden mask called “Mabu”. Dogon people of west Africa too use simple wooden masks.

Apart from wood other materials are also used such as bark, resin and varnished antelope skin. The Chokwe tribe in Zaire always used resin, fibres and branches to craft their “Cikunza” masks for ceremonies. Certain tribes in South Africa, create masks of grass and then those masks are decorated with beads.

Some masks are also made of bamboo and raffia. These bamboo masks are mainly found in the Songye tribe.

The Fang tribe which originated in Gabon have very unusual masks. They used to carry "passport masks" made of metal wherever they travelled.

The Ashante tribal community of Ghana build masks of gold and bronze in remembrance of the kings who were killed during wars.

Tribal masks are quite often bought as souvenirs to be given to friends and family. If you are interested in decorating your home with fascinating tribal masks, you don’t need to travel all across to the African continent. All you have to do is check out our online tribal art gallery. We have a huge collection of tribal masks, original tribal art forms and other forms of African art.

Abstract African Art- Highlights the Unique Culture

Wednesday, October 8th, 2008

Abstract African art is something “out of the ordinary” as the artists practicing it try to depict the unique cultural and traditional features of their tribal groups through abstract forms.

Abstract art thus collectively highlights the vibrant cultures within Africa. Every hue, shape and design is connected to the concoction of civilization, norms, and culture that makes every African ethnic group stand out.

The main inspiration behind abstract African art came from the need felt by the tribal artists to create something extraordinary and beautiful to represent objects that are not part of the real world. As the tribal people are generally very religious and rather superstitious in nature, they basically concentrated on intangible subjects such as mythical gods, spirits, power, moral values, superstitions and ancestral messages.

For example, the abstract modern paintings of mythical gods stress upon the physical or facial features of the subject to make it look different. In general, visual abstraction is the most pre-eminent characteristic that can be noticed in the most famous abstract African art pieces.

In most of the abstract African art, symbolism is evident. For example while painting human figures, artists usually draw larger heads as compared to their bodies. The reason behind this is that head is regarded as a source of intelligence and power. To make the figure look like an inanimate object, certain lines, emotions, or facial features are exaggerated.

When it comes to abstract painting done by the contemporary artists, the main beauty is not just restricted to the physical features of the artwork. Well, the main beauty of an abstract painting lies in the inner meaning that the artist wants to showcase.

The same concept can be seen in modern abstract African paintings, which aim to highlight the dominant features of the subject in a simplified way. This also helps the observer to understand what the artist wants to convey through his paintings.

For art lovers, we have made it easy to find abstract African art of their choice right in our site. At our online abstract art gallery you can find amazing abstract paintings done by many contemporary artists.

Introduce Beauty to Your Home with African Tribal Art

Monday, September 29th, 2008

African Tribal art is priceless as its unique style is hard to find anywhere else in the world. The timeless beauty of African art is fast gaining popularity in various other countries too. Adding African art to your home is a wonderful way to bring the beauty of the continent right inside your own home.

Here are some points to know how African tribal art can become the centre of attraction in your home.

  • To ensure that your art collection remains cutting edge give importance on buying only the original African art pieces.
  • If space permits, dedicate an area of a room devoted exclusively to African art pieces. It would give a unique touch to your home décor.
  • Highlight the African tribal art piece with additional sound and visual elements. You can add some visual effects that coordinate with the type of art pieces you have in your collection.
  • Africa is a large continent and each of its tribal ethnic group has its own distinct cultural beliefs and practices. Hence, if you are purchasing more than one art work, be sure that it gels with the others. If the selected African art pieces complement each other, their beauty will be enhanced many times over.
  • Give importance to the proper maintenance of the original African art pieces you buy. If you have an original oil painting, make sure it is not hung in a room which has fluctuating temperature. For masks and sculptures, proper dusting on a regular basis is a must to maintain them well.