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SA Art Times Business Art Aug 2010

SA Art Times Business Art Aug 2010

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SA Art Times Business Art Aug 2010
SA Art Times Business Art Aug 2010

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Published by: Art Times on Jan 13, 2011
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O� 25
A 2010
Tel: +
27 21 418 4515
email: greig@intekom.co.zaWebsite:
West Quay Rd, V & A Waterfront
 AUGUST 2010 | E-mail: subs@arttimes.co.za | Member of the Global Art Information Group
Published monthly by Global Art Information Editor 
: Gabriel Clark-Brown editor@arttimes.co.za
: news@arttimes.co.zaPO Box 15881 Vlaeberg, 8018
: Eugene Fisher sales@arttimes.co.za
: show@arttimes.co.zaTel. 021 424 7733 Fax. 021 424 7732
: Bastienne Klein subs@arttimes.co.za
: art@arttimes.co.za
Newspaper rights: The newspaper reserves the right to reject any material that could be found offensive by its
readers. Opinions and views expressed in the SA Art Times do not necessarily represent the of cial viewpoint of the
editor, staff or publisher, while inclusion of advertising features does not imply the newspaper’s endorsement of anybusiness, product or service. Copyright of the enclosed material in this publication is reserved.
By Michelle Solomon from The Daily HeraldArt auctioneer Stephan Welz made a stunning announcement at theAnn Bryant Art Gallery when he valued a painting brought in by a private collector at R1.3million. “He (Welz) was joking with me,and asked me how much it was worth,” Terry Flynn, of the EastLondon gallery, said.“Off the top of my head I said it was worth R70000.”Welz then revealed the value of the piece, surprising the socksoff Flynn. Even more astounding, according to Welz, was that hefound another rare painting by the same artist in Grahamstown onWednesday which he valued conservatively at R600 000.“(These works) are very, very rare,” Welz said. “It is highly unusual
to nd more than one or two in a year.” Flynn spoke to the Dispatch
on behalf of the owner of the East London artwork, who asked toremain anonymous. “The collector is quite knowledgeable aboutartwork,” he explained, “but the painting is worth at least threetimes more than she thought she would get for it.” The artist, Pieter Willem Frederick Wenning, died in 1921 and is considered a SouthAfrican master. The untitled painting depicts the Pretoria landscape,including a representation of the iconic Union Buildings in thedistant background. The painting is thought to have been completedin 1915, as it is not dated. It was appraised at the Ann Bryant gallery
 by Welz, a renowned art critic of Strauss and Company ne art
auctioneers. Welz and his colleague Vanessa Phillips have been trav-elling across the province in order to appraise private collectors’ art,as well as take in entries for the Strauss and Co auction in Johannes- burg later this year. Welz said this year’s trip had been particularlysuccessful due to the discovery of the two Wennings.Wenning’s work is a foremost example of Cape impressionist paint-ings, characterised by a “preoccupation with denoting the landscaperather than light on the landscape”, Flynn explained.Additionally, the use of broad, bold brushstrokes representing tonal
changes in colour, rather than ne detail, also indicate the work of a
Cape impressionist. The painting will be auctioned by Strauss andCo in Johannesburg on November 1. “Maybe it will sell for morethan R1 million,” Welz speculated.
Rare art nd in East London
maybe worth more than 1m
Great nd: Stephan Welz and Vanessa Phillips from Strauss & Co
(Fine Art Auctioneers and Consultants) chat about the untitled paint-
ing depicting the Union Buildings by Pieter Wenning (about 1914-1915). The painting belongs to a private collector and was valued at
between R1million and R1.3million. In the background is Terry Flynnfrom the Ann Bryant Art Gallery. Picture: Alan Eason
Dylan Lewis expands his work to the human form in his latest work, on show at the ‘Untamed’ exhibition at Kirstenbosch.Read a rare exclusive interview with the reclusive Dylan Lewis by Steve Kretzmann on page 2 Photo: Steve Kretzmann
By Steve KretzmannIf there was any doubt that contemporary South African sculpture couldhold its own in the international art market, it was blown out of the water 
by the spectacular prices Dylan Lewis’s works fetched at Christies three
years ago.A 2007 auction of 75 bronze sculptures of wild cats and animals by theStellenbosch-based artist sold out, fetching an astonishing R28 million in
90 minutes, an achievement that made the art world sit up and take new
notice of a sculptor who might have been derided by critics as little morehan a wildlife artist with an interesting technique.But whatever purists might have had to say, the public pockets applaudedhe wa his rouh masculine raw alication of cla translated in bronzeand complemented the way he seems to sometimes defy the laws of physics to freeze the kinetic energy contained in the movement of hisbeasts.Though he is among the most sought-after sculptors in South Africa and
abroad, he is rather modest about it. “I’ve been fortunate to have ‘some’
success,” he says. “I had no idea the Christies auction would be so suc-cessful.” And while the fortune and attendant fame is not rejected, he’sambivalent about it.“It (commercial success) is a double edge sword. It gives me the re-sources to pursue dreams and ideas that I might otherwise not be able to.But the shadow side of that success is that what makes you successful
becomes difcult to break away from, it becomes difcult to pursue ideas
which might not be so successful or well received.”But he appears to have dealt with that shadow. His latest, and growing,body of work, as seen in his latest exhibiton Untamted at Kirstenbosch isa departure from the animal form that has dominated his output, toward
representing the human gure.
This “probably had something to do with wanting to express things at adeeper level which couldn’t be expressed through the animal form alone”.It is not a hasty move. Just because he made millions and commands
high prices does not mean Lewis is going to indulge in misguided ights
of fancy. But neither is he sticking to the tried and tested, and attemptingto milk the market for all it’s worth.
In fact everything about Lewis, excepting the wildness contained in
his sculptures, suggests a thoughtful person. His commercial success,and how art and the business of art interact, is certainly something he’spondered. Art as a good investment is something he feels the recent andongoing economic crisis has highlighted.“Investors are not so sure about investments that once seemed verysecure, and art, in comparison, seems a more secure thing than it mighthave once appeared.”He believes that although art was not insulated from the economic crisis,it is survivin with a better track record than man traditional investments.
“High quality, agship work”, particularly, has held its value, he believes,
and there are still buyers who are willing to pay for it, although less of them perhaps than previously.
 And sculpture has also beneted from an increase in popularity – al
though the reason for its popularity he cannot account for – that “certainly
has lifted the prices it fetches, not by 100 percent, but by about 30percent or so”.He has also thought on the philosophy of what is popularly viewed to beart’s nemesis: the commercial realm. On the one hand, he says, there’sthe “fairytale ideal” that art is an expression of true freedom, and thatbusiness is it’s polar opposite. But the reality is that life consists of “pushand pull” factors and one has to continually balance opposing forces.Finding the balance between the need to sell in order to survive, and notlet that need affect your creativity, is not the sole province of art either, he
says, it exists in many elds of endeavour to a greater or lesser degree.
 And the commercial imperative is important, “it imparts its own energyand offers a reward, it makes things possible”.“The art world would like to see commercialisation as a pariah, full stop.But I think some of the greatest art work occupies the middle spacebetween the commercial imperative and artistic expression… evenMichelangelo, he had his arse kicked because the client (the church) hada deadline.” An example of how expression can lie idle if there is no deadline or 
rumbling stomach demanding to be lled, is the changing attitude to state
support for artists in the Netherlands.He said his interest was piqued by an article he read while in Holland“about four years ago”, which stated the government were thinking of scrapping the grants and social support provided to artists to relieve themof commercial pressures in the belief they’d create better art. Instead,they weren’t producing much art at all.“The commercial imperative is necessary but too much of it also takesaway the integrity and passion of the artist, but alternatively, without it, theartist lacks the resources to work. You’ve ot to walk that line.”
Dylan Lewis: “success is a double edge sword”
Dylan Lewis who is one of the most successful SA contemporary sculptors, chats to Steve Kretzmann in Kalk BayDylan Lewis appears to have the uncanny ability to freeze motion andenergy in bronze. Work at Kirstenbosch Gardens Photo: Steve Kretzmann
Hazel FriedmanIf sport is the opiate of the masses then culture is their social currency.And if there are any lessons to be learnt from football, it is that the teamwhich cannot adapt, falls; and that one must always keep an eye on theball. So what does this Fifa-esque homily have to do with the successfuloperation of an art gallery? On a prima facie basis, not much, apart fromhe fact that at the Everard Read Gallery in Cape Town the polite tones
so typical of the sanctied art spaces are being violated by the collective
rumpet of the vuvuzela brigade outside.hese unexpected punctuation marks in the otherwise staid syntax of theart gallery provide the Cape Town ER with a refreshingly serendipitous
identity. And in the fteen years that the Cape Town gallery has been
open for business, the art of dribbling and handling curved balls areskills Charles Shields and David Tripp have obviously acquired.
Launched in September 1996, the gallery was established as a satel
-lite version of its Johannesburg counterpart — occupying a small shop
window at the V&A Waterfront.“We were little more than a cave,” recalls Shields. “We had no pristine
white cube in which to work, no mailing list. And, quite frankly, our com-petitors were cynical about our chances of success.”Adds Tripp: “The art world in Cape Town was much more parochial and
conservative than it is now. But despite the odds, by 1999, when we
moved to our current premises, we had evolved from shop window modeinto a dynamic art destination with a separate identity and life of its own.”
Bordering the V&A Waterfront, in Portswood Road, the gallery still
maintains a synergy with the Johannesburg ER, while embracing themotley constituencies of tourists thronging the area and a client-base thatincludes blue chip collectors.
“We provide a niche service to a buying public who enjoy coming hereand like what we do. These collectors sustain the gallery. We also try to
demystify the aloof, sometimes alienating environment of the art galleryby making it accessible to everyone and encouraging visitors to feelcomfortable in the space.”“Make no mistake,” cautions Tripp, “art buyers are generally sophisti-cated creatures with their own opinions, who choose to be guided by our 
authority. We adopt a temperate, measured approach, providing a gauge
of what the market will pay. “
hile the Cape Town ER’s principal mandate of showcasing gurative
contemporary art hasn’t shifted, Tripp and Shields don’t suffer from riskaversion when it comes to artists they believe in. Although they “inherited”a substantial stable of established and emerging contemporary artists,hey are always seeking new talent.
“We look at images all day” says Tripp. “We hate to discourage any artist
who crosses our threshold, even those whose work we cannot exhibit. “
Adds Shields: “Both of us have an emotional response to the art. We
want to be moved by great work and move others in turn. And we will goout on a limb for artists in whom we believe, even if they are commer-cially risky.”Included on their belt of recent risky ventures are curated shows like
he quirkily titled ‘Sex, Power, Money’ — a satirical riposte against the
excessive consumption that precipitated the global economic recession.
he exhibition’s press release reads: If ‘Sex, Drugs & Rock ‘n Roll’ typiedhe 60s and 70s, then it is fair to say that more recent decades will beremembered as the time of ‘Sex, Power & Money’.”
Despite a bearish economy Sex, Power and Money enjoyed a bullishresponse.“The show reinforced the fact that in a recession we have to surviveon the success of local sales”, says Tripp, “and that our sustainabilitydepends on our ability to adapt to the times.”And nowhere is the symbiosis between art and economy more delicatelynegotiated than through the complex relationship between art-makers— the artists — clients and the intermediaries who close the deals.
“We stock a wide repertoire of artists and works because our clients’
astes change,” explains Shields, “and as dealers we have to be more
uid than traditional gallerists. We don’t simply market exhibiting artists
but constantly seek out and showcase individual works by both new andestablished names - even those who do not exhibit regularly.”He adds: “The relationship between the artist and dealer is tantamount toa marriage and it is predicated on compromise and sometimesserendipity.” The marriage metaphor is apt because, while they mightnot exactly complete each other’s sentences, the synergy between Trippand Shields is unmistakable. Theirs is clearly a partnership spawned in
gallerists’ heaven. They jokingly refer to themselves as Laurel and Hardyand share an ofce, probably spending more time together than with their 
respective spouses.Tripp is the gregarious, jocular corporate lawyer-turned-dealer,while Shields earned his art stripes by literally licking stamps for exhibitioninvitations at the Joburg Everard Read, and trawling the townships insearch of undiscovered talent. Tripp provides business acumen; Shieldsan impressive understanding of art history.
“We’ve had occasional disagreements but generally we’re pretty much in
sync in our choices and vision for the gallery, Tripp insists. “This is a no-ego zone and neither of our names will ever be exclusively on the door.” Adds Shields: “ There is no single model for success. But doing it rightentails attaining a balance between diplomacy and guidance,
mollycoddling and maintaining a rm grip on artistic reins.”
Not to mention juggling, dribbling and catching curved balls.
Art Leader:
Charles Shields and David Tripp
Cape Town’s Everard Read Gallery
Join Joshua Miles for a two day colour reduction block woodcut workshop fromSat 07 to Sunday 08 August at the famous 7 Arches Gallery in Prince Albert.Contact Brent Phillips-White 0827492128, karoogallery@intekom.co.za or The
Prince Albert tourist ofce at 023 5411 366 for more information on prices and
what to bring, as well as the many beautiful places you can stay in thisexquisite part of the Klein Karoo.
Join Joshua Miles for a refreshing Woodblock Printmaking Class, Prince Albert
David Tripp and Charles Shields at their Cape Town Everard Read Gallery Photo: Jenny Altschuler 

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