Getting there, A passage from one place to another
PRETORIA – I gazed into the suspicious eyes of a dishevelled African child wearing a ragged dress reflecting years far beyond her age. I am stifled by a sense of despair, not just for her but for a country suffocated by poverty. A painting titled “Sunday Dress” stares me head on, and I play with the idea that the subtle use of light shimmering on the little girl’s frame may indicate the potential of a new generation, a chance to free itself. The theme of a recent art exhibition was “Getting There”, a passage from one place to another, and the passage through life.
This expressed through the eyes and hands of 7 extraordinaire artists: Lance Friedlande, Wayne Vivier, Ronel Kellerman, Talitha Els, Katlego Modiri, Malose Pete and Cobus Haupt, each with their own style that expands our interpretation of what is meant by “Getting There”. The exhibit was mounted at 41 Library Bar at Kievits Kroon, an exclusive country estate in Pretoria, characterised by white-washed Dutch manors and ornately rounded gables.
Runette Kruger, acting Head of Department of Fine and Applied Arts at the Tshwane University of Technology opened the exhibition. She described “Getting There” as a unique art display depicting pilgrimage and journeys, the internal and external journeys directly influencing the other.
As soft classical Jazz played in the background, South African contemporary art seemed to almost exhale from the walls. I spoke with Ronel Kellerman, a strong portraitist who exclaimed, “I was excited to use this exhibition as an opportunity to explore images that spoke to me during a recent visit to Mozambique.” Her work revolves around moments in time and with her “Sunday Dress” painting she says, “I tried to emphasise the little girls innocence and the frailty reflected in what was once a beautiful dress through subdued pinks and subtle blue shadows”.
‘Getting there’ is not only about the journey, but the obstacles along the way and the attitude with which we conquer them. Malose Pete, a B Tech Degree Painting and Sculpture graduate from Tshwane University of Technology paints realistic portrayals of roads and pathways. He said that in preparing for this exhibition, he attempted to capture the journey from being an art graduate to being a practicing artist. He states, “Since art is a field without many interviews or internships I have been documenting even the smallest things that are usually taken for granted but that are essential on the road to recognition as a formidable force in the art world.”
We should define the maps we use on our various inward and outward travels. We can get to most places using the relatively safe pathways already trodden and documented by others. But we can also travel within and outside our lives with the sense of adventure that comes from choosing a different way.
Lance Friedlande, probably the most established of the participating artists, courageously depicted a different arrangement. His portraits reflect a revolution of pivotal points in South African history. His Ventersdorp series looks at the human condition in relation to itself, others and the South African landscape (Ventersdorp is a city scarred by the legacy of Apartheid, although now in a time of transformation.)
As I left, motoring through Kievits Kroon’s gate, eclipsed by the archway of tall ancient trees, I realised that not all our destinations are clear, and not all our milemarkers can be measured by traditional means. Life is an assembly of journeys, not the least of which is the journey between life and death. We pass many milestones travelling past personal destinations – some of them inevitable, others of our own choosing, many forgotten once we have arrived. Our journeys make us choose and our choices make our journeys. It is about how we reached where we are now – the story behind the story. In the end life is the journey of getting there.
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