Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Quoting another artist

I found another really compelling post on www.saartistsa2z.com - a directory for artists and art lovers which is run by artist, curator and arts writer Gerhi Janse van Vuuren. I couldn't resist posting it and sharing it with you:

Human need can be distilled into five fears we all share: the fear of death, fear of the future, fear of chaos, fear of the outsider and the fear of insignificance. Every artist faces these fears as a part of their calling and as representatives of humanity.

Being an artist is a statement that says: What I do matters. It matters to me and if you accept what I do, it matters to you. And if what I do matters, then I, as the doer, matter.

Now no one need fear being insignificant.

Being an artist is a state of being that walks the edges of society. Artists choose unpopular opinions. They step out and forward, as the vanguard. They become strange even to themselves, but manage to carry on when they accept their own strangeness.

Now no one need fear the outsider.

Doing art is a process of making and unmaking. Giving shape, order and form to ideas and materials is a futile process. The world is forever sliding down the other side and what was made today begins to decay tomorrow. But tomorrow I, the artist, start remaking it again.

Now no one need fear chaos.

Being an artist is a futile game of trying to beat time. Not only have you already been beaten by the masters who lived before, but you are also being thrashed by the masters yet to be born. What one makes today is old hat tomorrow and clich̩ the day after. What is on the cutting edge now is lost in mediocrity a moment from now. But you can only make something today Рyesterday and tomorrow are not options.

Now no one need fear the future.

Being an artist is an attempt to cheat death. It is a process of externalising pieces of yourself and casting them in forms that might outlast you. And that may exist even when you are no longer there. And because things we have made will still exist, we will not be gone, though we may be dead.

Now no one need fear death.

Thanks to artists and what they do, we matter, we belong, we have order, we have now and we live. And every artwork that exists is proof of that.

Extract from the exhibition catalogue of the Winelands VAN-Guard exhibition, edited by Gerhi Janse van Vuuren, published by VANSA Western Cape

I'm busy updating my website, and also working on proposals for exhibitions for next year. So watch this space for more exciting things to come (as opposed to quoting other artists...)!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Buy art as Christmas Gifts!

Stocking Stuffer Show at

It's that time of the season - the season to be giving! Don't miss out on great art gifts for R495 and under!

Bring your friends - spread the word
'tis the season to be buying tralalala laaaaaaa

The exhibition opens on Monday, 29 November at 18:00 runs until 21 December 2010

VANSA's Spin Space
8 Spin Street
Cape Town

Don't miss out! Some of my artworks, currently available, that might be on the wall:

Monday, November 22, 2010

Quoting a fellow artist

I know it's my second blog post within one day, and I don't usually quote other people's entire posts or opinions, but I feel that I really want to share this piece of writing about fine art that I read in my friend's DeviantArt Journal here (see her work at www.dwuff.deviantart.com/gallery):

The important point is that a valid work of art promises in some way or another the possibility of an increase, an improvement. Nor need the work be optimistic to achieve this; indeed, its subject may be tragic. For it is not the subject that makes the promise, it is the artist’s way of viewing his subject. Goya’s way of looking at a massacre amounts to the contention that we ought to be able to do without massacres. - Berger, J. 1960. Permanent Red: Essays in Seeing. London, Methuen.

Keeping this quote in mind, I'd like to state the following:

Fine art and illustration are not polar opposites, but they are different, and the fine art you see me uploading is, by and large, quite removed from my more narrative/illustrative work. This does not make either of them worse or better, just different. Think of all artistic disciplines as points, with gradients inbetween them, linking them. There's so much intermarriage that can happen between disciplines.

As for doing both fine art and illustration, I'm not exclusively one or the other. It's okay for you to like one and not the other. That's how art works - everyone finds resonance in different things. I'm not asking you to adore both or either. What I AM asking is that you get out of your comfort zone and take a more critical, objective look. The entire mission of my artistic practice is to bring about that "increase" and "improvement" that Berger refers to.

Even if you don't like my work; if you view and experience it, and it makes you think, meditate, mull over things, if it sparks debate or ideas, my work is done. I can't force you to open your mind, nor can I force you to see things in a certain way. I can't expect the same level of involvement with my work from everyone. But I can provide you with material which you can use in your journey in life, material which could inspire you and/or just give you something to think about. If that happens, I'm happy.

I'm aware that the fine art scene is seen as elitist and anal-retentive. It shouldn't have to be that way. Reading and appreciating art doesn't require a degree or formal training, just a passion. Art school did not teach me how to draw and paint. They expect you to know those things already when you arrive. What art school DID teach me, and which I am so very grateful for, is how to communicate. It taught me to improve my analytical and observational skills through practice, and how to be specific with what I say instead of vague. It taught me how to handle criticism and how to give it, two things which I have struggled with my entire life and probably will still battle with to the end. It taught me that one learns as much from one's peers as from one's lecturers, and that humility and willingness to learn are the fastest ways to get anywhere in life. And, after everything, it taught me that no one has ever been able to answer with satisfaction the question, "what is art?"

- Danelle Malan

Fluid and earthly

Two watercolour drawings that I did during this weekend when we were in Gordon's Bay:

My favourite blog for the week:

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Looking around again

Debut run with my new Holga! Using Portra Natural Colour 160 Iso film, I had a go with my new Lomography camera, which I bought about two weeks ago at Exposure Gallery at the Old Biscuit Mill - thanks Fernando! A LOT of blurry images - motion blur, not the characteristic Lomo-blur (I got confused with the N (normal) and B (bulb) setting, resulting in toooo long exposures and too much movement on my already double-, triple- and quadruple exposures) - but these six shots are quite satisfactory - especially the bottom 3...

As usual, of course, taking photographs with film made me more aware again about what's around me and how a lot of the very 'ordinary' objects, scenes and landscapes around us could make the perfect, most interesting subjects for artworks...

Friday, November 5, 2010

A quick little update

So things are going really well. I am now happily married (*shy smile*), and I am working harder than ever on my dream and my passion - which is a combination of art (in so many of its forms and shapes!) and nature. I am currently planning an exhibition in Vanderbijlpark for May 2011, with Mark Shaun Hopkins, and currently I am also getting involved with a project for a recycle centre/swop shop in Khaylitcha (oops, sorry - Khayalitsha - I always misspell it!) using tyres, earth and clay, by Tierra Construction - read more about it on the Ecojunki blog... And looking for artists and people who'd be interested in joining in on a voluntary basis to help with the 'finishing' and 'pretty-up' phase of the project -whether it be by sharing ideas, or hands-on!

I'm definitely looking forward to getting my hands dirty - Nick from Tierra has mentioned that the clay can be made quite thick, or very runny, and this has SO many possibilities for having fun, being creative and being part of something that's bigger than any of us would have been able to achieve on our own. Awesome... We're also considering doing wall mosaics with glass that we'll get from Waste Plan, so even MORE opportunity for artists to get involved!

If you're interested in helping out, contact me at art@janetbotes.co.za or Nick at info@tierraprojects.co.za.

In the meantime I am of course still playing around with watercolour, as well as charcoal, and starting to give informal, encouraging art classes. So keep an eye on this space for more on those at a later stage!