artSPACE durban’s Annual Affordable Art Show, now in its 12th year. is the final exhibition of the year here in Durban. The gallery collects and selects a wide range of fine art, exhibiting them over the festive season. They keep the prices down for buyers and collectors, encouraging them to splurge out one final time. The Annual Affordable Art Show gives people the chance to start their collections at an affordable price and if you are already a collector there is plenty to choose from to add to your collection.
I have two works which have been selected to be exhibited and so I find myself being listed amongst names such as Andrew Verster and Jane Alexander. Never in my wildest dreams could I have envisioned that! I am so to speak, one of the “boys”! Jane Alexander is a personal favourite of mine and an artist who inspired me as a student. Her work, The Butcher Boys (1986) is extremely powerful and unsettling.
The trio of ominous, life-size figures are created from oil painted plaster with animal horn and bone details, and are seated on a bench. The humanoid beasts have powdery skin, black eyes, broken horns, deep gouges for ears and no mouths. The beasts seem to be devoid of their outside senses with their ears are nothing more than deep gorges in their heads and their mouths are covered with thick rough skin.
Ivor Powell calls the Butcher Boys, “images of brutalisation…they emerge from a specific time and place”: that time and place being a pre-democratic South Africa with Mandela still in prison and the ANC still banned and power in the hands of a white minority. The Butcher Boys allude to the psyche of apartheid South Africa mutated by atrocities committed and ignored, particularly by white South Africans. I can’t wait to see what work/works Alexander will have in the exhibition!
Just as a postscript: there was a fourth figure made and exhibited at the same time as the original trio. It was auctioned recently and fetched R5.45 million at a Strauss & Co auction in Johannesburg. If ever there was proof of the value of buying when an artist is young, this is it. “I believe it was bought off her Masters’ show by an undergraduate Wits student who used her pocket money to pay it off,” says Strauss senior painting specialist Phillippa Duncan. The seller became a millionaire, having hung on to the work for more than 25 years.
One wonders where she kept it? It probably lay in a garage somewhere covered in a dustcloth for all those years, certainly not in her lounge. R5.45 million! DAMN!!!