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Claudette Schreuders

Claudette Schreuders
Carved and painted figures
from her exhibition at the Civic


The title of Claudette Schreuders' paper for her MFA seminar in September 1995 was 'Ambiguous Aliens', a discussion of carved wooden Colon figures in West African society, and the paper started: "Strangers in any society are anomalous. Sufficiently inside to be identified, to affect and be affected by the host culture, they are identified nevertheless as outsiders who are to some degree alien." (Cole 1989:136). Colon figures are the black image or conception of the white man, or responses to the things the white man has brought with him. "My own preoccupation with these figures lies less in wishing to align myself with the meaning and significance of these artistic objects than in their status as strangers or 'ambiguous aliens'," Schreuders has said, adding that as a white South African, she has identified with the precarious situation of not really being a full part of the land of one's birth.

It is this background against which the body of work Schreuders is exhibiting at the Civic Gallery must be considered. It is work Schreuders started as a student at the University of Stellenbosch, and finally presented for her Masters degree at the Michaelis School of Fine Art in Cape Town last year. As Schreuders has matured, so have her hand and eye grown in assurance, and the figures become stronger and gained more edge. Making work based on photos of such Colon figures as 'the stranger', 'the couple', or 'the mother and child', Schreuders has in fact successfully achieved her intention of fusing African and Eurocentric cultural influences to produce work which has gone far beyond pastiche and holds its own with authority and power.

Exhibition closes March 3.



Durant Sihlali
African Olympic Circle
Pure cotton handmade paper, pigment

'New Horizons'

Durant Sihlali is one of those figures in the art world who acts as a role model to younger artists, teaching, setting an example with his own rigorous working habits and consistent experimentation with all forms of printmaking, and in recent years, papermaking. Working out of the Amakhona Art Centre, near Roodepoort, Sihlali has been associated with the Goodman Gallery for a long period, and his new show of works of dyed and handmade paper is awaited with interest. February 28 to March 21.




Clare Menk (detail)
Still life with record cover 1997
Oil on board
30 x 30.5 cm

'Cyst' - Works in Paint

In its final two weeks at the Sandton Civic Gallery, this Cape Town-originated show features paintings by many of the country's best known artists, including Randolph Hartzenberg, Walter Meyer and the curators themselves, Clare Menck and Johann Louw. Stylistically, 'Cyst' covers the waterfront, from Menck's finely considered still lifes to the brash komix-style paintings on glass by Conrad Botes. It will probably be quite some time before such a broad all-painting show is put together, so don't miss this one. A well-produced full colour catalogue is available. Ends February 28.


Peter Clarke
Family Fleeing From Fire 1962
Wood and linocut on paper
Johannesburg Art Gallery


Pioneer Black Artists

The older generation of black artists - 47 of those born before 1930 - are celebrated in 'Land and Lives: Pioneer Black Artists' at the Johannesburg Art Gallery. The line-up includes such luminaries as Jackson Hlungwane and Gerard Sekoto and extends to previously little known names like Micha Kgasi. For those who enjoy the extra depth that information brings, art historian Dr Elze Miles will be conducting walkabouts on March 3 and 24 at noon.




Beezy Bailey
Mixed media
A view of the exhibition in the Hanel Gallery


Beezy Bailey
Stunning Doll (detail)
Mixed media


Beezy Bailey

According to legend, Beezy Bailey's first name derives from a childhood domestic who, watching his frenetic round of activity, observed: "But you're always so be-e-e-sy." The athleticism of Bailey's mind shows up in the images which throng his prints, paintings and assemblages: leaping and flying, often fanciful, figures, and in the way Bailey jumps from one medium to another, mixing a little bit of this and a little bit of that. Nothing wrong in that per se. At his best, in his work as in his life, Bailey is charming, colourful and exuberant. But unfortunately, the downside of all this leaping about is a tendency to superficiality, and of simply flitting right over weak passages in work. His eye is insufficiently critical, particularly for an artist of his maturity, and the weeds are allowed to be displayed alongside the flowers. Of the work on this show, some of the canvases on the wall should have been left in the studio, and all of it is overpriced.

'Driftscapes' at the Hanel is Bailey's first Cape Town show in some years. Here, Bailey has used a cache of found objects - the shaped wooden ends of seats from the dining cars of railway carriages - on the recesses of which, in situ at Plettenberg Bay, he has painted views of the idyllic scenes in front of him. At the Hanel, these hang suspended from the ceiling. Though the small size of the recessed areas on the seat ends does not allow for the freely moving brushwork which is Bailey's forte, and the density of the paint seems too heavy, the idea of painting landscapes on the very seats from which one would have viewed the passing countryside is entirely appropriate. Angelic or swimming figures made of driftwood and Barbie bits animate the T-shaped pieces.



Arlene Amaler-Raviv
His Herbs and Cederic in the Suburbs
Oil on glass
81 x 91 cm


Arlene Amaler-Raviv
But Society Noticed and That Disturbs Him
Oil on glass
81 x 91 cm


Arlene Amaler-Raviv

Suspended artworks seem the order of the day, and over in the larger gallery at the Mark Coetzee Fine Art Cabinet, Arlene Amaler-Raviv has hung twenty glass panels in rows from the ceiling. This series began its life as a ground piece on the District Six Sculpture Festival last September, when Raviv laid the glass over portraits made on pieces of linoleum. The sun acted as Raviv's collaborator, and lifting the glass, Raviv found either the linoleum had stuck to the glass (as in the more opaque squares in the reproductions at left) or interesting traces had been left behind. Interesting enough for Raviv to decide to work the panels further, painting on both sides of the glass. It is the life and the people of the places where she lives which Raviv takes as a theme (Raviv moved to the mother city from Johannesburg in the last year), and the panels seem to function as a lively sketch book of her experiences. Her lightness of touch in eliminating unnecessary detail from her drawings is entirely consistent with the transparency of the glass. Nonetheless, one does feel sometimes that the colours are a little too harmonious, the arrangement of smaller and larger, half finished and unfinished images a little too artful, and one almost wishes to be jarred a little.



Showing at the AVA:
Hard Ground printmakers
Jonathan Comerford, Billy Mandindi, Sophie Peters and Judy Woodborne



The Baxter Art Gallery, right up at the top next to the Studio Theatre, is showing a selection of prints by Cape Town artists which gives a good overview of the city's printmakers, and also includes a section on the technical side of the art. Artists include Sophie Peters, Cameron Voyiya, Beezy Bailey and Sue Williamson. Four more printmakers - working out of the Hard Ground Studios - can be found on a show at the Association for Visual Arts (not that one would know it by checking the AVA website, the address of which is now included on every invitation). The line-up here is Jonathan Comerford, founder of Hard Ground, Billy Mandindi, Judy Woodborne, and Sophie Peters again. Fine printmakers all. February 16 - March 7.



Omar Badsha
Mother and child, Museum (1995)
Silver print on fibre paper
24.5 x 37 cm



'PhotoSynthesis' at the SANG

Ending on March 1, 'PhotoSynthesis' is an overview of photography in South Africa in the 90s. As curator Kathleen Grundlingh tells it in the catalogue preface, "Used primarily as a recording tool to help bring about political change, South African photography played a vital part in the struggle against apartheid. Ironically, the demise of apartheid left South African photographers each with his or her own creative crisis. Freed from their collective political purpose, photographers have had to redefine their individual photographic identities and aims."



A piece by Mustafa Maluka on 'Bliss'

'Bliss' at the Area

This large show has been pruned somewhat since the overcrowded opening night (when ArtThrob reviewed it), and it now affords a better opportunity to catch up with fine work by the likes of Bridget Baker, Terry Kurgan, Stephen Inggs and Zwelethu Mthethwa. Ends February 27.



One of the Romy Modlin portraits

Portraits of Jewish Women

Romy Modlin, a recent Michaelis graduate, presents photographic portraits of Jewish women. In the one at left, Modlin shields her face as she photographs her subject in the mirror. At the Association for Visual Arts from February 16 - March 7.



Dana Barak
Tamagotchi Madonna


Dana Barak

'The Virtual Canvas' - a witty digital look at traditional painting - will run at the Mau Mau Gallery in Long Street from February 17 to March 9.



Greeg Smith
Mixed media on corrugated cardboard

Gallery show at Joao Ferreira

Sculpture by Jacques Dhont and Brendhan Dickerson and mixed media work by Gregg Smith (see left) and Mark Coetzee. Smith's work explores the effect of a culture of separation on his own emotions.



Paul Edmunds
Work in progress (detail)
Cable ties, pins. insulation board
Photo: Dave Southwood


Paul Edmunds

'Once, again' is the title of Paul Edmunds' installation, which will cover the walls of the small gallery at the Mark Coetzee Fine Art Cabinet when Amaler-Raviv's work comes down. Liberating thousands of white and black plastic ties from poles around the city where they had been used to secure posters in position, Edmunds grants the ties a new existence as elements in his intricately and obsessively worked maze-like patterns on chipboard. The work of months, the panels raise images both dreamlike and organic, and by virtue of their material, of computer-driven fractals in cyberspace. Opens March 4.





Birth 1997
Watercolour on paper
Association for Visual Arts



'Passages from India'

The Mirjam Asmal-curated show 'Passages from India' moves from the AVA in Cape Town to Durban's NSA Gallery. We are indeed indebted to Asmal for introducing us to work which arrives upon the local scene with a freshness that is most engaging. Four artists are involved here: Shambavi and Sanjeev Sinha work on handmade paper from Pondicherri, roughly butting a number of sheets together to give a working area of the desired size. Deep cerulean blues and wine reds stain the paper into intense areas of colour, and bleeding black lines depict faces and figures. Raja Babu Sharma and Ganshyam Nimbark have sent small scale works in much more controlled style, on antique sheets of paper. February 22 to March 12



Tracey Derrick
A photograph from the 'Waters of Life' series


The Waters of Life

Tracey Derrick's superb series of photographs reflecting African Zionist baptismal rites reach the NSA Gallery in Durban after showings in Cape Town and at the Goodman in Johannesburg. Derrick took these photographs over an extended period, often staying up all night with the participants to be present at the dawn ceremonies, and having to plunge into the icy ocean alongside them to get her pictures. The extent of her involvement shows.

... MWeb

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