Alexis Preller, Imagination Gone Wild.

Creative genius and an affinity for being different are apt descriptors for Alexis Preller. This South African artist is remembered for his unique and counter cultural style. Similar to many artist of his time he spent a lot of time in Europe; travelling, exploring and learning the tricks of the trade.

The great South African artist, Pierneef, was partly responsible for Preller’s choice to study in Europe. A stroke of genius in many commentator’s books. It was in this time that he travelled large parts of Europe and even crossed the Mediterranean to set foot on North Africa. Visibly influenced by the works of Piero del la Francesca and the mystery of Egyptian pyramids, he came up with art works such as Hieratic Women (1956) during this time. Despite the European influence which may have been evident in his art, the African spirit had gripped him from a young age. This was after he went on a camping trip and safari to Swaziland and Congo. By his own admission, he was stirred by African customs, traditional rites, sculptures and fetishes of tribal Africa.

The mind of a creative genius
The mind of a creative genius

This combination of African heritage and European sophistication saw Alexis Preller’s own formulation of a primeval African art form, which resulted in the establishing of a compendium of iconographic imagery which would serve him well as his career progressed. The trajectory of his journey through the history of art became one of solitude. His worked seemed rather different and unfamiliar to the rest of society, but his brilliance was yet to be discovered.

Alexis Preller didn’t seem to care much about the status quo as he was focussed on expressing deep ideas through his art.

 

 

 

Walter Battiss: A Bright Imagination

Walter Battiss, one of South Africa’s foremost abstract painters, spent a large part of his career coupling art and education. Amongst other things he was the art master for Pretoria Boys High from 1936 till the late 1960s. He travelled, collaborated, wrote books, exhibited; doing everything an artist could do.

He was born in 1906 in Somerset East, Eastern Cape. In a few short years his family moved to Koffiefontein and then eventually settled in Fauresmith, where he matriculated in 1923. He started working as a clerk at the magistrates court just the following year. After gaining some work experience he enrolled in tertiary studies.

He completed a diploma at Witwatersrand Technical College followed by a teacher’s diploma at Johannesburg training college. Soon afterwards he went back to work at the magistrates court while also studying. He finally obtained a bachelors degree in fine art at UNISA; by this time he was already into his thirties. Unlike many other local artists, he did not study overseas at this time.

Battiss met up with Picasso and Gino Severini in the 1950s and was even invited to lecture on South African art during that same year. He took some time to travel through Europe in the 60s and visited the Seychelles in the early 70s. This saw the birth of his legendary and imaginative ‘Fook Island‘. His imagination and ideal of Fook Island led him to a much deeper place than just being a quirky artist. This was his weapon of choice against apartheid; he noted that Fook Island exists inside everyone.

Walter Battiss: African Art

It is clear that Walter Battiss was more than colour, imagination and abstract art. He was a deep thinker and used his art to speak to people.

Come back for more of Walter Battiss in the weeks that follow.

Robert Hodgins: The Optimistic Old Sod

The life of Robert Hodgins does not just lie in his art, almost more importantly it lies in the hearts of those close to him. He is described by some as an expressionistic painter and others label him as a graphic artist. Regardless of where he fits, Hodgins’ art makes him a much loved figure in the history books of South African art.

Robert Hodgins was born in Dulwich, London. His earliest encounters with art woud be from his childhood; it has been noted that many of the city’s fine galleries became his hideout during the cold winters in his home city. He went on to finish his schooling career in England before immigrating to South Africa. As a young adult he joined the Union Defence Force and served in various African countries before returning to England where he was discharged at the end of the second World War.

The life of Robert Hodgins, marked with an honest interpretation of life around him.
The life of Robert Hodgins, marked with an honest interpretation of life around him. (photo credit: www.artvault.co.za , pixgood.com, bu.edu)

He spent the first few years of his post-military life studying teaching and art. After returning to South Africa in the mid-fifties, he embarked on a career as a teacher and journalist, culminating in the position of Assistant Editor at “Newsweek” and later on filling the position of Senior Lecturer in the Department of Fine Art at the University of Witwatersrand. The university was probably his last employer and ushered in the start of his career as an artist.

Robert Hodgins is revered among his peers, most notably by the South African conceptual artist, Kendell Geers who paid tribute to Hodgins with the following words: “Very few artists command the respect and admiration of their peers in the way Robert Hodgins does, a reverence often verging on cult status.”

Join us for part two as we explore is life as an artist.

Pierneef: The Unfolding (1)

With the subsiding of the Second Anglo-Boer War, the Pierneef family returned from Holland to South Africa. (Read about Pierneef’s intriguingly formative years here.)
Whilst the 18 year old Pierneef had firmly set his sights and heart on studying architecture at university, the financial upheaval of returning from Europe and the unexpectedly exhorbitant resettling costs paralysed his father financially, and Pierneef was forced to take up work.
Pierneef’s godfather was none other than the acclaimed sculptor, Anton van Wouw – who had, like his godson, studied fine art at the Rotterdam Art Academy. The well-connected van Wouw was determined to see Pierneef succeed as an established artist, and lent him his whole-hearted support, knowledge and connections. And with this specialised support and his trademark tenacity, Pierneef made his impressive first mark on the South African art world in a group exhibition alongside his godfather and Hugo Naude.

Photographs of Anton van Wouw and Shangaan sculpture

Van Wouw organised for Pierneef to study under the brilliant Frans Oerder, a friend and colleague. Following his three years under Oerder, the Irish artist, George Smithard taught Pierneef the printmaking disciplines of wood engraving and etching – and imbuing him with a rich understanding of graphic design.
And so, with his richly diverse art education,  immense skill-set and undeniable natural talent, Pierneef built upon this foundation a career which has earned him worldwide acclaim and continued attention.
READ MORE next time about how his fine art career unfolded across the decades, encountering everything from petty jealousy to global applause!
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Have a He{art}

 

We’re excited to announce our Online He{art} Auction which we’re hosting to boost KIN Culture‘s online exposure, support opportunities and funding!

 

Absolut Art Gallery's Online Art Exhibition for KIN Culture

 

KIN Culture is no ordinary ‘children’s home‘ but a groundbreaking new concept in helping orphaned and vulnerable children:

KIN Culture is a faith-based organisation where orphans and vulnerable children are given a home and a bright future. We believe that a safe environment and a family atmosphere are crucial to every child’s development. KIN Culture will operate as a village.

Every child will be placed in a loving home with parents and siblings. Children will have access to world class opportunities and facilities through means of education, sport, culture and a community of activities. We will build a self-sustainable village that will be a model of excellence and community life.

Orphans and vulnerable children are a real issue in South Africa and the world. At KIN Culture we believe that collaboration between government, business and church could become a real solution for the plight of orphans and vulnerable children in South Africa and the world.

 

Be part of this exciting chance to make a truly he{art}felt difference to the lives of these children and those who are investing their love, time and hope into these precious little people → Join hands with KIN Culture and us on Facebook and stay up to speed with what we hope will be a wonderfully successful fundraiser!

 

 

PLEASE FORWARD THIS EMAIL TO THOSE WHO ALSO LOVE TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE!

 

Absolut Art's Gallery's Art Auction of South African Art for KIN Culture

 

Galleries: The Fine Art of Business

{ STAYING SOCIAL } Facebooking, Blogging & Educating!

As a business based on the marriage between tradition and creative, contemporary innovation, we make sure we continually evolve alongside current cultural and technological trends – which is why we are hatching a new look and approach to showcasing South African art online!

 

Julian Motau - South African Artist - Township Art - Apartheid Era - Absolut Art Gallery

 

One of our responsibilities as a gallery is to continue the celebration and honouring of our South African art heritage, and also providing rich educational resources online – for art lovers, art collectors and young art students alike. This is why we keep our Facebook page fresh with current art news and interesting posts about both old masters and contemporary artists. This is also why we’ve now added a Blog section to our website for you!
We are also updating all of our artist CVs to include videos, podcasts, interviews and more! Have a look at Julian Motau‘s CV and tell us what you think on our Facebook page. We invite you to share any facts, photos or intriguing snippets of information with us on Facebook which we can then add to the artists’ CVs!

 

 

We leave you with a moving tribute to Julian Motau after he was assassinated, shot from the back: ‘En Skielik is dit Aand‘ by South African composer Hendrik Hofmeyr, inspired by poet, Wilhelm Knobel: