Monday, July 18, 2011

Artistic Impressions

I had an artsy week last week, and I'd like to record some impressions here.

PJ has been going to review photo exhibits for a class this semester, and I went with him one morning to see a collection by Gary Van Wyk called Public/Private. The all photos in the exhibit were paired two-by-two, with titles evoking opposites (heaven and earth, wet and dry, up and down, etc.) Some of my favorites can be seen here.

I finally took myself to the SA National Gallery to see the Tretchikoff exhibit. I spent an hour and a half wandering around, but I feel like I need to go back. I love the color and vibrancy of the paintings; sometimes the blue-green glow around faces reminded me of the work of Frida Kalho.

Tretch had an interesting career. He was popular, and made money off his artwork, during his lifetime--and this made him suspect to art critics. He took charge of making prints of his own paintings, and became adept at this method of getting art to the masses. Again, this gave rise to criticism that he was a hack.

I don't begrudge an artist for making money while they're alive--in fact, I admire the desire to take ownership of the reproductions of the original work!

And maybe my admiration is selfish. I liked hearing that Tretchikoff and his family, upon relocating to Cape Town as WWII-era refugees, started off in a very small flat in Seapoint and gained success from there. As someone living in a very small flat in Greenpoint, maybe there's a hope for my artistic ambitions yet...

I also enjoyed two photography exhibits at the National Gallery, both honoring the cultural history of Indan South Africans. (One was a collection of photos that first ran in Drum Magazine, the other featured the work of Ranjith Kally. Some of Kally's work appeared in the Drum exhibit, as well.)

One subject appeared in both exhibits, and really caught my eye. Papwa Sewgolum was a natural-born golfer who rose from poverty and obscurity, and despite incredible odds, beat some of the world's best golfers of the 1960s. I was struck by photos of him sipping coffee in his car, because he was not allowed inside club houses. Another photo showed Sewgolum after a victory on the field; he stood in front of the shack he shared with his large family, including his aging mother. Sewgolum could not read or write.

It made me think that in a system where the state tries to regulate every action (in this case, with increasingly intrusive segregation laws), every act--any act--can be subversive. A peternatural ability at a sport can be subversive! Interesting stuff.

I spent my Friday night at the Labia Theatre, geeking out at the latest remake of Jane Eyre. I have always loved that book--I read it when I was 13, and totally identified with young Jane's out-of-control passion. I read it again when I was 16 (for summer book club at the South River Public Library), and loved the creepiness of the Brontes' English countryside. I read it for a third time when I was 19, in a Women's Lit course, and our class discussed the way Jane learns how to tell her story, over and over throughout her life, until she is an expert at explaining herself and can control the outcome of any situation. (We also read Wide Sargasso Sea, and I loved the reclaimation of Bertha's voice.) And now I'm a week shy of 25, and it felt so comforting to see that familiar story unfold. (In this remake, I liked that the terror of the Red Room was included. That was always a powerful force to me.)

So there is it--new sights and familiar stories.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the post, Laura! If you're interested in Tretchikoff, you might like to visit my blog about his art: