A
 
Web www.artsmart.co.za
A R T S M A R T
arts news from kwazulu-natal

visual arts
www.artsmart.co.za
enquiries@artsmart.co.za
 A current news
crafts - dance - drama - film & tv - literature
music - supper theatre - visual arts
miscellaneous news - festivals
letters to the editor
home page
archives A
crafts - dance - drama - film & tv - literature
music - supper theatre - visual arts
miscellaneous news - festivals
 

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

THE LIGHT OF ORIGINS : MARC CHAGALL (article first published : 2000-11-12)

My first main encounter with the works of 20th century French artist Marc Chagall came when I appeared in a production of Fiddler on the Roof and screened images of his Wandering Jew, complete with bag on back, were used as a backdrop. Waiting for my cue in the wings, I would often let my attention wander to the artist’s evocative interpretation of the Jewish community in a rural Russian town strongly bound in traditional ritual.

What a joy to be able to see the originals first hand – from the master’s brush stroke to my own eyes! With South African art lovers having to content themselves with prints of the world’s great artists in the past, it’s a privilege to be able to see original works. That in itself is a reason to visit The Light of Origins (La lumière des origines) which is on show at the Standard Bank Gallery in Johannesburg until November 25.

The exhibition is a joint initiative between Standard Bank, the South African National Gallery, the French Institute of South Africa, the French Embassy and Air France. One of the largest and highest profile exhibitions ever to be seen in South Africa, it has been specifically curated for this country and takes place concurrently in Johannesburg and Cape Town.

Most of the works are on loan from the National Museum of Modern Art in Paris; Bella and Meret Meyer; Indivision Ida Chagall; the Galerie Maeght in Paris; the Foundation Maeght; the Stuttgart Staatsgalerie as well as some private collections. This highly prestigious event is arguably the most important exhibition to come to South Africa and is presented under the auspices of Honorary Patrons: President Jacques Chirac of France and President Thabo Mbeki of South Africa.

The elegant Standard Bank Gallery in the Johannesburg City Centre is a worthy host for this fine show which represents work done between 1949 to 1977. On display are 31 original paintings, 21 works on paper and one tapestry. Also part of this Chagall “experience” is an exhibition of a hundred lithographs and two tapestries at the South African National Gallery in Cape Town until January 14, 2001.

Marc Chagall carried a lot of baggage with him as he went forward in life. Good baggage made up of fond memories, surroundings and experiences. These he incorporated into his work as ever-present backgrounds to the subjects he happened to be working on at the time. Thus his paintings feature recurring images such as the little houses of his Russian birthplace Vitebsk and the clock from his parents’ dining room. Also from Vitebsk come the chicken, fish and goat.

On his birthday, his beloved Bella Rosenfeld (later to become his wife) brought him a bunch of flowers and there are very few works on this exhibition where the bouquet image is not included. The Eiffel Tower, Montmartre, Notre Dame and the Louvre recall his life in Paris and his time in the circus and obvious fascination for trapeze work must surely have influenced his use of flying or suspended figures.

One of the most memorable aspects of this exhibition is Chagall’s wonderful use of colour. Whatever the subject, the works are vibrant and arresting. Accompanying the exhibition is a narrative on the artists’ life and some superb photographs. An extensive catalogue, with all the works in colour, is on sale at R250 per catalogue. Also worth looking out for is the informal resource book written by Helene Smuts (see separate review).




 A current news
crafts - dance - drama - film & tv - literature
music - supper theatre - visual arts
miscellaneous news - festivals
letters to the editor
home page
archives A
crafts - dance - drama - film & tv - literature
music - supper theatre - visual arts
miscellaneous news - festivals
a co-production by caroline smart services and .durbanet. site credits
copyright © subsists in this page. all rights reserved. [ edit ] copyright details  artsmart