Young Bay creatives excel

KITSCH OR FINE ART? Jonathan van der Walt with his series, 'The Warhol Affects'. Picture: BRIAN WITBOOI
KITSCH OR FINE ART? Jonathan van der Walt with his series, ‘The Warhol Affects’. Picture: BRIAN WITBOOI

SEVEN Bay artists have been selected as finalists in the prestigious Absa L’Atelier national competition to be held in Johannesburg in July. Tamaryn May Snelgar, Alhyrain Laue, Keri Monk, Lisa Ledwick, Jonathan van der Walt, Anva Chiazzari and Christiaan Kritzinger were named as finalists at the competition’s Bay regional event held at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU) last week.

Artists aged between 21 and 35 were invited to submit works at 11 points across the country, after which regional selections were made.

Monk, a printmaking student who while growing up had feared standing in front of the entire class to read, was selected for her photography series titled Read to Me!

She said her past experiences had inspired the images produced for the competition. “Through the edition of multi-transfer prints images, I explore what is private versus what is public. This is all linked to me feeling exposed.

“It was achievable through overprinting of the same passage I was asked to read in class to the extent that the text becomes unreadable and where hints of text, texture and patterns become visible in the layers of the print.

“The experience of ridicule can also fuel a desire to blind and ridicule others. I purposefully remove the viewer’s ability to read by exposing some words and obscuring others,” she said.

Van der Walt, who had two of his entries selected, said: “It’s humbling to know my hard work has been recognised for such a prestigious competition and I now have double the chance to win.

“The Warhol Affects, the first series, examines the blurred relationship between kitsch – low-art – and fine art – high-art.”

Using multiple sculptures of Andy Warhol he, much as Warhol had done in his own work, repeats an image multiple times and in different colours to convey messages of contemporary life, also asking questions about freedom, materialism, narcissism, consumption, individualism and equality in society.

“By repeating his image and not his artwork I draw attention to the decomposition of the role and perception of the artist in post-modernity and not just questioning the role of the art produced.”

Van der Walt’s other chosen entry, Marvel at the Avant-Garde, is an over-exaggerated action figure of surrealist painter Salvador Dali.

“It speaks of the decline of the impact of the avant-garde artists as their art gains popularity, and becomes copied both by artists that followed, or reproduced into prints, fashion, design and mass-produced items such as coffee mugs, bags and stationery that in turn inevitably become kitsch,” Van der Merwe said.

Head of NMMU’s studio art department and adjudicator of the Bay leg of Absa L’Atelier, David Jones, said being selected for the national competition was a fantastic opportunity for any artist. “Every single artist who has won in the past has gone on to make it big internationally.

“This year’s entrants showed a great deal of maturity and professionalism in presenting their work.

“Their subject matters not only depict their personal experiences but speak volumes of concern and consideration of the greater society.”

Jones said the competition was now in its 29th year and that there were four art residencies up for grabs this time as part of the prize package. The main prize was R150000 from Absa, a return air ticket to Paris and up to six months’ study and accommodation at the Cité Internationale des Arts in Paris.

Three artists from Buffalo City have also been selected for the finals in July.

The Bay’s entries may be viewed at the NMMU North Campus gallery until this Saturday while the East London exhibition, at the Ann Bryant gallery, ends on April 5. – Balisa Ntloko

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