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NB: as of 23 September 2008, all new artSMart articles are being published on the site news.artsmart.co.za.

NAF DIARY: DAY THREE (JULY 3) (article first published : 2005-07-4)

Today is overcast and cloudy – which is good for shows as festinos search for entertainment indoors but will affect crafters and pavement stalls.

This morning, I headed for the exhibition by Wim Botha, winner of the 2005 Standard Bank Young Artist Award for visual art. There are only six works on this exhibition but they range from the massive Pietà to two comparatively tiny bronzes. The works deal with war from actual conflict (the bronzes) to the grief of those who have lost loved ones through senseless carnage (Mielepap Pietà).

This exhibition will come to the Durban Art Gallery as do all the touring Standard Bank Young Artists exhibitions, and I urge art lovers to visit it when it does. Chatting about the exhibition to Andrew Verster, acclaimed Durban artist and one of the visual arts representatives on the 2005 Festival Committee, he mentioned that Wim Botha’s work is all about clichés.

This is why Scapegoat, which sees a half-goat/half-man in crucifixion attitude, is surrounded by beautiful chocolate box images of clouds, broken down into jigsaw pieces and placed in antique-styled frames. The Pieta is an accurate replica of Michelangelo’s original except that it is made from mealiemeal and marble dust. It is also a reverse image which means that the Virgin Mother holds her son next to her heart, in the same way that a mother holds her baby so it can feel and hear her heartbeat.

The same reverse psychology is applied to the bronzes – with Isaac attacking Abraham, for example. Using multiple media including anthracite and eco solvent inks on satin paper, Wim Botha looks at the symbolic imagery of power, religion and art history … and forces his viewers to look at the accepted norm with different eyes.

At a lunch held to thank the media for their efforts in promoting the festival, NAF chairman Mannie Manim corrected the perception that he was leaving at the end of this year> He will relinquish his position at the end of 2006, having given the organisation what he hoped was a good working period to find his replacement. His going will be a loss to the festival as he is such an integral part of it.

Mannie Manim paid tribute to the five major sponsors of the festival: Standard Bank, the Eastern Cape Government, the National Arts Council, The National Lottery Distribution Trust Fund and the SABC. He added that there was room for two other major corporate sponsors whose input would be greatly appreciated by the festival. All suggestions welcome!

This evening, I attended Mike van Graan’s new play Hostile Takeover and as always was impressed by his ironic and often biting wit. See the review on the Festival and Drama pages.




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