Joe Wolpe - Retrospective at the AVA
by Sue Williamson
Cape Town dealers come and go, but Joe Wolpe seemed to go on forever. He had certainly been around ever since I first discovered his gallery in the early Seventies. As an etcher, I asked Joe if he had any David Hockney etchings in stock, and was delighted to discover that he had a number of those lively little images from the 'Cafavy' series, made long before Hockney got large and lush and plush. I should have bought one or two of course, but I thought then they were too dear for my pocket.
Hockney was by no means the only international artist to be found at the Wolpe: it was always there one could go for a breath of the international. Joe himself was quiet and helpful. Friendly. One did not feel intimidated knowing that Joe knew perfectly well you had come to look rather than to buy.
What I did not know then was that Joe himself was a painter and an artist. Thus it was a surprise when he closed the doors on his gallery in 1990 to take up painting full-time. His first one-man exhibition is currently on at the AVA, and a very gentle, aesthetically pleasing selection of paintings and other mixed-media work it is. Form and colour interact with sensitive brushwork and rapidly inscribed lines in a harmonious whole. In a day when video, photography and installation are seen pretty much everywhere, Joe's paintings, while entirely his own, recall the era in which British and Continental names like Henri Hayden, Alberto Morandi, Henry Moore and Victor Passmore were the collectors' choice.
I recommend a visit.
Until December 1
Association for Visual Arts, 35 Church Street, Cape Town
Tel: (021) 424 7436
Fax: (021) 423 2637
Hours: Mon - Fri 10am - 5pm, Sat 10am - 1pm