Artists say it with flowers…

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TO NDR ART1 Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow by John Smith. Photo: Supplied

SHOWCASING vibrant, colourful and beautiful flower paintings by some of South Africa’s finest artists, Flowers is an exhibition running at the Artisan Contemporary Gallery until November 17.

Some of the artists involved are Frederike Stokhuyzen, John Smith, Wilma du Toit (Cape Town) and Marita Meijer (Gauteng).

The owner of the Artisan Gallery, Ingrid Smith, has enhanced the gallery’s lighting for better viewing of the paintings.

Tonight chatted to Stokhuyzen and Smith about what the exhibition represents.

Says Cape Town-based Stokhuyzen: “The oil paintings are of actual scenes in Namaqualand during the spectacular spring season.

“One is of vygies in the Kamieskroon district. The second is a close-up study of the delicate oxalis flowers growing in between the rocks.”

Stokhuyzen, who has exhibited locally and abroad, says she has been involved in art from a very early age.

“I didn’t have formal art tuition at school, but my parents believed in my talent and sent me to Rhodes University in 1956, where I graduated with a Fine Arts degree in 1959.

“In my book Born to be an Artist (Fernwood Press 2010), there is a photograph of me at two years old drawing a picture.

“After Rhodes I went to London Central School of Art to study stained-glass window designing and mural painting.”

Chatting about her creative process, the artist says she is interested in the designs and patterns found in nature.

“We travel a great deal here and overseas. I am always inspired by colours and shapes and the linear aspects of nature – mountains, trees and landscapes as well as birds in flight and wildlife.”

Durban artist Smith was born into an arty family: “My dad was a good water-colourist and pastellist and was passionate about art. My aunt was at the Royal College of Art in London.

“In terms of my work in the exhibition, it doesn’t really symbolise anything other than what it is. I paint things that interest or intrigue me and flowers are just one of a host of things I see and am curious about.

“I’ve tried representing them in a few different ways in this exhibition. I pretty much paint what I see or am confronted with and seldom try to include other obscure or ‘clever’ alternative meanings.”

Asked about his biggest challenge as an artist, Smith answered: “To survive! Over 40 years I have seen many cycles come and go in art.

“I fear we now find ourselves in the most irritating, frustrating and trying times I’ve known.

“In some ways, art has become quite literally hysterical, and anything goes.

“In some ways this may be good as one would imagine really good ideas and a direction would emerge, but this doesn’t seem to be happening, so in the long run it may not be good. Art is reaching a point where no one takes it seriously any longer.

“We could end up becoming a nation of amateurs or Sunday painters.

“We need a public that is far more discerning, and education and arts departments that are more interested in art than their salaries.”

• The Flowers exhibition runs until November 17 at the Artisan Contemporary Gallery. For more info call 031 312 4364.


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