BY BILLY SUTER
TWO new exhibitions, one in Durban and the other in Pietermaritzburg, are sure to attract art lovers.
Works by Nigel Starling are on show at the Blue Caterpillar Art Gallery, 37 Willowton Road, at the Butterflies for Africa building which is open every Tuesday to Friday from 9am to 3.30pm, Saturdays from 9.30am to 3.30pm, and Sundays from 10.30am to 3.30pm.
Starling’s work reflects on, as well as draws inspiration from, people going about their day-to-day business. This attention to people’s lives is what he loves about painting.
Self taught, but having completed training and been inspired by many people over the past decade or so, Starling is exhibiting three, large-scale canvas pieces inspired by his travels to Mexico, and with a common theme of people earning a honest day’s living.
He uses a method of drafting which is helpful in transferring his ideas to a larger scale on canvas. This maintains the accuracy and proportion of his initial drawing of the image.
Starling enjoys using the alkyd medium which replaces the linseed oil with alkyd resin.This decreases the drying time and allows the artist a better flow and transparency to the colour of the oil paint.
The Blue Caterpillar Art Gallery was established in 2001. It covers two floors of the Butterflies for Africa complex in Pietermaritzburg. The gallery exhibits a wide range of styles and mediums covering both established and up and coming artists from South Africa and beyond.
A wide range of local artists is featured – see the website www.artsales.co.za which is regularly updated with new work, says curator Jeni Cramer.
The Starling exhibition will run until the end of July. More information is available from Cramer at (033) 387 1356.
Meanwhile, Durban’s KZNSA Gallery in Glenwood opened a solo exhibition by Andries Gouws, titled Vertoef/Linger, on May 22 and is scheduled to present it until June 10.
Vertoef/Linger is Gouwss’ fifth one-man show at this park gallery. Before it arrived in Durban, it visited the Pretoria Art Museum, and after Durban it will go to the Irma Stern Museum in Cape Town.
Gouws previously had one-man shows in Chicago, Bloemfontein, Johannesburg, Kimberley, Cape Town, Grahamstown, Oudtshoorn, Potchefstroom and Stellenbosch.
“Why do I paint the way I do? Why do I paint all these rooms without people, these mirrors, these feet? I don’t know. What do my paintings mean? I don’t know,” the artist says.
“As an artist and as a philosopher I have learnt that there is no verbal equivalent for what happens visually in a painting. Moreover, the artist’s words carry no special authority.
“I tread gingerly when making an artist’s statement. Whatever I say is speculative and tentative. The silence or muteness I strive for in my paintings would be lost if they suggested a meaning which can be captured directly in words.”
He continues: “Meditation – lingering in an awareness of the here and now – plays a large role in my life. To me the mood of my paintings suggests something between the meditative and a sense of failure, perhaps abjection.
“Had they been only meditative I don’t think viewers would have found them awkward, uncanny or even desolate, in the way they do.
“Art works don’t simply arise from the artist’s personal experience, but always also from a dialogue with other artists. My paintings are a modest salute to painters like Vermeer, Piero, Morandi, Arikha, and how they capture light, space and stillness.
“Although many of the artists I admire, like Goya, Guston and Kentridge, engage with the problems and terrors of the social and political world, I can’t emulate them – the place my work arises from is too different.”