Image of Woman – Parow Art School

My visit to the Parow Art School some years ago was a revelation, one that I needed — I have been pessimistic about South Africa as a country supporting the arts.  I was told that the students were mostly of high school age.  This made what I saw the more remarkable.  I chose a theme – the image of the woman, though there were other themes and media. I have to apologize that, at the time, I did not record the names of the artists.

 

There was a depth in the work carried by technical skill.  These young artists were not staring at surfaces.

The work questioned  attitudes and traditional values.  It celebrated life.  These images search.  For me, if an image stirs something in me, nameless as that emotion may be, the image has done its work.

A painting about family murder

 

This exhibition was clearly a feather in the cap of the teachers.  Their honing of talent did a good job helping to evict my pessimism.

© Will van der Walt

www.willwilltravel.wordpress.com

Les Semboules, Antibes

March, 2019

 

My photographs

My gratitude to the Parow Art School

 

 

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Xhanti Mkapama – sculptor

My friend and past colleague Charmian Plummer invited me some years ago to the inaugural exhibition at the Imibala Gallery, Somerset West, where the sculpture of Xhanti Mkapama was being exhibited.  She told me that some time before that she had met Xhanti, then unknown, who showed her his work  —  in clay, I believe.  From there began an arduous journey for the bronze casting of the clay, something that nobody, it seemed, wanted to risk financially.  Dauntless, Charmian eventually found a past student of hers who had a foundry and he was prepared to do the casting.

 

The rest, as they say, is history.  Xhanti Mkapama, locally-born, has advanced from strength to strength as he becomes better known in South Africa.  He achieves a realism within a certain stylization.  The female figures are elegant, swirling with vitality.  One can almost say, they enjoy themselves, these figures.

 

The figures of children are engaging in their play.  As with his other creations, they have an energy, a quality that characterizes the fundamental optimism that informs his work.

There was also a striking figure of an old man, which I found particularly moving.

A while before the exhibition, Xhanti was commissioned to sculpt a figure of Shaka Zulu.  His local reputation as an artist now became international.

Last year (2018), on 24th July, a statue of Nelson Mandela on the balcony at the City Hall in Cape Town, which Xhanti co-created with Barry Jackson, was unveiled.  This figure commemorates the speech that Mandela made after his 27-year incarceration and the onset of the new South Africa.

On the evening of his exhibition, Xhanti thanked Charmian warmly for the part she had played in the recognition of his work.  Those attending were moved by the details of the story which paves the way for recognizing other deserving talent.

© Will van der Walt

www.willwilltravel.wordpress.com

Les Semboules, Antibes

March, 2019

 

My photographs

Balcony image – globalafricanetwork.com

With gratitude to Charmian Plummer

 

 

The warriors, the soldiers – some depictions

When does a soldier become a warrior?  Perhaps, in reality, they are precisely the same thing.  It is our perceptions of them, the purposes of our depictions of them, that make a difference between the two.

At the Centotaph in Cape Town, erected after the First World War, there is the figure of a soldier with his ready bayonet.

The Centotaph at Durban has a bronze relief depicting British soldiers in a scene from the Anglo-Boer War.

I am uncertain if I call the figure at the feet of the Paul Kruger statue in Pretoria a soldier.  He has a rifle, but he is lost in thought.  An action stance would make him more of a soldier.  Or is it what a soldier looks like when the war has been lost?

It is easy for South Africans to apply the word warrior to Shaka Zulu, the leader of the Zulu people in the early-19th century.  This depiction, it is maintained, is of Shaka Zulu, a warrior in full cry.  Other depictions of him have been more stately.

 

In Bongeunsa, southern Seoul, the entry portals of the Buddhist monastery display these depictions of warriors.  The stylization and the flambouyant colour swirls show the reverence and affection for the memory of these warriors.  The warrior-monks of Bongeunsa have a proud history of resistance to the Japanese invasions which happened from time to time in history.

I was interested to find this relief in the pediment on which a 20-metre figure of Buddha was standing.  I would say here the warrior-soldier dichotomy now become one.

There were many depictions of warriors in various places in Korea.  At Ichon, I was intrigued by the modern-day tribute to soldiers fighting in the civil war of 1950-1953, Koreans and Americans, side by side.  This scene of soldiers is extensive and has the War Memorial as a backdrop.  The colours have gone.

Do we, as the post-Sixties generation, see the depiction of soldiers differently?  Do we, despite our ideologies, not find ourselves honouring soldiers for what they went through?  Can we afford a fundamentally new meaning and purpose for  warrior energy that we potentially have?

© Will van der Walt

www.willwilltravel.wordpress.com

Les Semboules, Antibes

March, 2019

 

Images

Cape Town Centotaph – Cape Town Daily

Durban Centotaph – Wikipedia

Kruger statue – Pinterest

Shaka Zulu – Wikipedia

Korean images – my phgotographs

 

 

 

The Mask – more than a face

The oldest mask we know of is the stone mask in the Museum of the Bible and the Holy Land in Paris.  It is said to have been fashioned circa 7000 B.C. and is probably by no means the first time a mask was used.

My own involvement with masks has been that of a drama teacher and the use of masks in therapeutic circles.  Much has been written about masks and on the internet, especially Wikipedia, there is a good introduction.  I share seeing a collection of masks, functional and ornamental, from West Africa in the lounge of people I visited  in Durban.  I offer some images and thoughts.

Allow me some anthropological speculation.  The facial features are handsome rather than fearsome, such as one would find in masks from central Africa.  The mouth is open, which could suggest that the wearer in the ritual is vocalising.  The stylized elongation of the head may indicate the wisdom or spiritual knowledge of the wearer or the spirit being.

I would imagine that this elegant mask represents feminine energy.  In some rituals all the energies are feminine and males wear the female masks.

The facial features are stylized, the eyes wide, the mouth open.  This might have been a mask that was carried rather than worn on the face.

It is difficult to assess whether this mask represents male or female energy.  The decorations are probably ritualistic.  The headdress is a mystery.

I have seen that masks and head sculptures from West Africa have a kind of calm majesty.  This mask is an example of that.

What may seem playful to us, is probably serious for the makers of these masks.  What interests me here is the two sets of eyes.  Is the darker set viewing the world from the nether regions?  It is masks like this that inspired the Swiss-German artist Paul Klee to paint his “Senecio”.

The cultures of Africa, it goes without saying, are much older than the cultures of Europe.  I say this because it seems to me that stylization comes more easily to an old culture.  The human figures in the rock art of Africa are all stylized in contrast with the animal figures that are uncannily naturalistic.

© Will van der Walt

www.willwilltravel.wordpress.com

Les Semboules, Antibes

March, 2019

 

Source

Wikipedia Masks

 With thanks to the Durban family whose name has been long since lost.

 

Images

Musée Bible en Terre Sainte

My photographs

 

 

 

 

Television: Crime series

With a 24/7 channel on crime series or policiers, together with scattered broadcasts of crime stories elsewhere, French television viewers spend much time watching the world of police investigators.

I remember becoming aware of this in the early years after 1976 when South Africa was first introduced to television.  The series was Dereck, dubbed into Afrikaans from the German.  I was struck by the psychological depth of the character depictions, even by the general melancholy that coloured these stories.  There was nothing smugly righteous here.  It would seem that crime series in the countries that generate this television content have changed greatly from what was previously done.

In France, you see the New York Special Unit series, produced by Dick Wolf, as is much quality work from America;  there is the French Maigrait , based on the writing of Georges Simenon;  there is Inspector Barnaby , the long-time favourite in England.  Each is these is brilliantly dubbed, making my understanding skimpy, to say the least.  I mention but three.

In each of them the matter of Good winning over Evil, a pattern that does not change, has become more complex than its predecessors.  Often, one is left with a piercing sense of tragedy, even though justice has been served.  If, for example, one is tempted to think of the inspectors themselves being cardboard-cutouts, there are also stories of their personal difficulties, sometimes leaving them on their knees, so to speak.

We are now far from the Good Guy in his white hat and the Bad Guy in his black hat.  In literature, of course, writers have always sought depth, both in those who assert the good and those who usurp it.  At random, I think of Graham Greene’s Gun for Sale, where the story is seen from the criminal’s mind and the crime he commits is a twisted form of justice.

They have my admiration, the producers, the writers, the actors.  The scripts are sophisticated and memorable.  For me, though, I can only watch them in small doses  — the brutal realism is taxing.

© Will van der Walt

www.willwilltravel.wordpress.com

Les Semboules, Antibes

February, 2019

 

Source

France television

 

Images

My drawing

Source lost

Source lost

My photograph

My photograph

Pinterest photograph 

 

 

South African coins

The first in a series of four

Coins and banknotes in a country are little icons of that country.  Examining a coin or a note, especially with a magnifying glass, is often a revelation.  Numismatists have fun.

Here in Les Semboules I have only three South African coins with me.  I’m not sure how often the designs change and I’m sure that it can’t be a cheap process.

The R1 coin (front) has a springbuck and something I’ve not been aware of and find fascinating:  the Latin words Soli Deo Gloria.  Interesting to say that on “filthy lucre”!  The R2 coin (front) has a kudu and the R5 coin, a wildebeest.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On the reverse side of each of these coins is the South African coat-of-arms as it has been since 1994.  It is recommended to look this up on the internet as so much has gone into that design.  I mention some elements.  The motto is in the Khoisan language, that of the earliest known inhabitants of the Southern continent.  (I always wonder what is implied by the Khoisan rock art in Spain.)  The words mean Diverse people, Unite.  Not radically different to the 1910 – 1994 motto Unity is Strength.  The difference is apartheid which probably implied Division is Strength. 

It can’t really be seen but on the coat-of-arms there are two human figures, stylized in the form of Khoisan rock art, who are greeting each other, their knobkerrie and their spear at rest over their heads.  Crowning them is the rising sun and a rising secretary bird, the national bird.

© Will van der Walt

www.willwilltravel.wordpress.com

Les Semboules,Antibes

 January, 2019

 

Images

My photographs

 

 See also

South African bank notes

EU coins

EU banknotes

South African banknotes

The second in a series of four

On the R10, R20 and R100 banknotes we have the image of Nelson Mandela, the first black president of South Africa.  The designer chose an interesting image to work from:  Mandela has the touch of a smile and a keen eye.  (Compare the expressionless image of Mao on Chinese banknotes.)  The image of Mandela is against expressionistic images of African design.  Is it basket work? Fabrics?

 

The reverse side of the R10 note there are images of two rhinos.  On the R20 note there is an image of the young Mandela in tribal costume against the backdrop of a house, probably that of his first house in Soweto, Johannesburg.  On the R100 note is a buffalo.  On each of these notes, scattered around, and to be seen with the 10, 20 and 100 lettering, there are images from South African rock art, perhaps to suggest the antiquity of the inhabitants.  The coat-of-arms appears in the top left hand corner of each note.

 

 

© Will van der Walt

www.willwilltravel.wordpress.com

Les Semboules,Antibes

 January, 2019

 

Images

My photographs

 

See also

South African coins  14.01.2019

EU coins

EU banknotes

 

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