Thursday, February 26, 2009

Concept for ceramic tableau titled,Trojan.

Trojan, (Detail of Eye) Ballpoint pen drawing; preparatory study in developing the concept for a ceramic sculpture that will be modeled, moulded and press moulded with hand built extensions.

The concept of this sculpture is based on the Greek Myth - the treacherous gift of the Trojan Horse. The story is well known - the horse made out of wood (an offering to Athena to render Troy impenetrable), encapsulates liberty within. Against this premise the initial preparatory drawings were made. The idea was to design and develop a form and shape of a horse that would symbolize power, anger and striving forward in great anticipation of the prize at the end of the race - total freedom. South Africans have accepted their new found freedom with great joy and pride, however many citizens are still bound by the stronghold of tradition. Fundamentalists and extremists are marching forth spurned on by the impact of globalisation.
Umberto Eco states in his new book, Turning back the clock, It is "almost as if history, breathless after the leaps forward made in the last two millennia, is drawing back into itself, returning to the comfortable splendors of tradition. (2008:4)"
Our extraordinary inclusive constitution paves the way for a free and open society, liberating itself from within - with every debate on topical issues such as marriage and abortion. This series of ceramic sculptures will explore the present dichotomy of our new found freedom (a precious gift)
in dealing with 21st century issues - challenging our ways, our beliefs and our world view. Within the horses belly lurks the true libertine army, ready to pounce on hypocritical dragons that fester our society.

Trojan, (complete image) Ballpoint pen drawing; preparatory study in developing the concept for a ceramic sculpture that will be modeled, moulded and press moulded with hand built extensions. With reference to the the entry Horse in the book, An Illustrated Encyclopedia of Traditional Symbols, documented by J.C. Cooper, the horse is both a life and death symbol. The horse has featured often in the development of my work. The most significant being the blog's main image titled, The panoramic view of the end of the age. The work is based on the well known iconographically significant eschatological image as described in the Bible's book of Revelations; the four horses of the Apocalypse - war, death, famine and pestilence.

Reference material, for developing forms and shapes of a new sculpture.

Ballpoint pen drawing for porcelain sketch.

In pursuit, (26 February 09) to be hand built in porcelain, slab constructed, modeled and assembled.

In pursuit, Detail (26 February 09) Ballpoint pen drawing.

In pursuit, Detail (26 February 09) Ballpoint pen drawing.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Porcelain hand built sketch.

Encounter. (Feb.09) 170x140x50 mm. Hand built porcelain piece. I have not hand built with porcelain for about 13 years. I decided to make work whilst teaching ceramic practice to the second years. They had to explore plasticity and rigidity; a project brief, introducing them to hand building. Working with slabs and modeling organic and related material, they had to create a piece that demonstrated the diverse properties of clay. Appropriate surfaces had to be developed (mainly textures) to compliment the two contrasting themes. I took the images of the piece, with my cell phone, when it came out of the kiln this morning. I gave a talk at Ceramics SA's AGM. Everyone there enjoyed the work, I therefore decided to post it on my blog. Below is a detail of the fish perturbed by the impending doom on the surface - a Hokusai inspired Wave's encounter with a shark. The same wave appears in two dimensions (ballpoint pen drawing) as a decal / transfer on the paper boats in the to be continued post below.

Encounter (Detail)

Sunday, February 15, 2009

To be continued!

The ships sail on and on, (1999) Private collection.
Hand built paper clay constructed origami boats fired to 1186 degrees with decals of my ballpoint pen drawings. I will be experimenting with colour transfers (colour ballpoint pen drawings) on porcelain shortly. The series of origami inspired ceramic statements will included water bombs & other related forms and shapes suitable to the evocative nature of literary sources to be investigated.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Old work new images.

Ceramic Installation, Market Theater Gallery (1989).
The ceramic works
that follow formed part of an installation of 30 pieces, held at the Market Theater Gallery in downtown Johannesburg in 1989. The work was in direct response to the political situation in the country (during apartheid era of the 1980s). There was a very strict ban on the media at the time - however photographs and the visual arts enjoyed some freedom; albeit locally. There was an International Cultural Boycott (instituted against all South Africans) and the work therefore could only be seen by the local community - even though numerous artists worked and exhibited whilst in exile. Here at home it was very much a situation of preaching to the converted.
Because very few people of the international ceramic community have actually seen my earlier work, I have decided to showcase a few ceramic statements sculpted during apartheid - some images are of my studio (at the institution where I taught), showing work in progress.
I have been asked to approach someone to write an article about my work for Ceramic Art and Perception. Hopefully some of these images will evoke interest whilst the article is being written.

The National Party, (ruling Party's Car of 1989). Collection JAG (Johannesburg Art Gallery).
The car is depicted boiling and looking worse for wear (taking strain), symbolic of the ruling party's endeavour to find answers in a losing battle with the ever so determined majority (International Sanctions and Boycotts). They are leading the procession of cars into an arena (a political rally of sorts before God). The cars are moving through a guard of honour, created by the left and right wing party's representatives and or pawns. On the outskirts (on the periphery of the installation) are the wild pack of dogs, smoke fired and ready to pounce and grab the spoils - they are individually animated (press moulded with hand built extensions) and reminiscent of the jackal headed Anubis (guider of the souls to the underworld - Egyptian Mythology) see images far down below.

Eugene Terre-blanche, The leader of the AWB, an extreme right wing political grouping in South Africa, whose political views were premised on the Nazi SS. They demanded a separate state within the new political dispensation, and to meet these objectives, many of them moved to a place in Central South Africa, called "Oranje" - a place where they could live side by side, share similar values; albeit one of the minority groupings in South Africa.

Conservatives, One of three cars depicting the major political groupings in South Africa, leading the procession is the National Party - the ruling party of the day, then the Conservative Party (The Conservatives - image above and below). One car represented black leaders, sellouts to the government of the day, for accepting to rule apartheid created black homeland states; organised round various ethnic groupings in designated areas, reminiscent of the present provincial system. Numerous black people, without the vote, were repatriated to these states; the ruling party's last resort to level the political playing fields and secure the majority of the land, the wealthy regions in SA for themselves (to protect minority rights).

Conservatives, Side view depicting the conservatives of the day and their offspring as Nazi youth. Take a closer view of the ossewa (ox wagon) paraphernalia, depicted as a mascot on the grill of the motorcar, reminiscent of Die Groot-trek (The Great Ox wagon journey of 1836). The Afrikaners, who objected to British rule (enforced English), moved in huge numbers in ox wagons up north to find their hinterland / promised land. The cigar in the farmers mouth is reminiscent of a barrel of a gun, whilst the woman wears a conservative hat. Every year, clad in these traditional clothing, they would attend a cultural festival at the Voortrekker Monument (built outside Pretoria). Every conservative Afrikaans speaking South African would attend the celebrations to commemorate the Day of the Covenant; God's intervention to safe them as a nation at "The battle of Blood River".

The Police,
Police motorcars were painted yellow and blue during the 1980's. The above image is reminiscent of the governments pawns of the day, the policemen and woman including informants and of course the military that enforced their presence when the ruling party declared a state of emergency, especially during major riots . Clad in copper (Copper Nazi helmet and buttocks) the piglet has a tail and horns symbolic of the devil and in it's mouth is stuffed a hot dog - see detail below.

Policeman (Detail).

Wild dogs ( Anubis inspired creatures)
On the outskirts were the pack of wild dogs (20 of them), smoke fired and ready to pounce and grab the spoils - they are individually animated (press moulded with hand built extensions) and reminiscent of the jackal headed Anubis (guider of the souls to the underworld - Egyptian Mythology)

Another pair of Wild dogs (Anubis inspired creatures); details of it's significance is explained in the caption above.

Wild Dog - closeup.

Saint George and the Dragon, (1988) Collection Carl Landsberg.

The ceramic statement depicts the ruling National Party (1980's) as the dragon like vehicle in confrontation with Saint George, the black liberation figure. He is the offspring of the acrobatic Peruvian inspired ceramic figurine (collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art), giving birth to the liberator. He is reminiscent of the boy in the movie Tin Drum, clothed in animal skins, whilst his arm is outstretched in the shape of a wooden club, ready to pounce the dragon. The Ice cream is symbolic of the boy's knighthood - god's divine intervention in support of his cause - black liberation theology.

Saint George and the Dragon, Detail (1988) Collection Carl Landsberg

The joy of a hypocrite is but for a moment, (1988), an edition of two; One in a private collection, the other in the National Gallery in Cape Town.
Earthenware ceramic sculpture; Press-moulded with hand built extensions, painted with Amaco under glaze colours, glazed and fired to 11:20 degrees, Acrylic painting in selected areas to reinforce a plastic feel. The work depicts the awkward situation of the white minority; also the government of the day - in a very compromised situation.

Working in my studio at the Technikon Witwatersrand in 1989.

Closeup of studio - work in progress in 1989.

Monday, February 2, 2009

The Pope sees Red

Bigot. (2005), Ballpoint pen drawing.
The Vatican's new Policy on China has a colour
by Sandro Magister. Its emblem, is the new cardinal Zen, Bishop of Hong Kong, The colour of my garments he said, " is the blood of the unknown heroes who have suffered for their fidelity to the church". Roma, March 28, 2006, Benedict XVI's first consistory with the cardinals, both old and new, will be remembered for it's vivid red colouring.
The pope strongly emphasized the significance of the cardinal's investments.
He assimilated this red of Jesus' blood poured out on the cross
"The sacrifice of one's life is the distinctive character of cardinals, as attested by their oath and as symbolised by scarlet, the colour of blood. And not only that, Benedict XVI associated the sacrifice of one's life symbolised by the red colouring with martyrs of the church commemorated that day and with the persecuted Christian communities in various countries throughout the world.

How can we forget !!! - the same colour red was ever present during the execution of gays (during the eighteen century); At the time in Holland, the almost religious ceremony, lasted three days.

Gilbert Herdt (editor) in his book entitled, Third Sex Third Gender, gives us a detailed account of these executions (in the 18 century) and insight into the pursuit of a third sex. (see book lists for details or click on the title above).

"Day one began with an almost religious ceremony in which the prosecutor delivered his requisition, following the next day (Day two) by the announcement of the death penalty to those who were to be executed as well as by prayers in the churches. On the final day (Day three) came the apotheosis at the scaffold.
Much of the ceremony that day- such as the guards of honour and the
blood-coloured robes and other paraphernalia the judges wore - was meant to underline the God-given nature of the power and the majesty of the authorities
, who resided over justice in full regalia.
Next to them and to the hangman, the convict (sodomite) was the important actor in the drama.
The drama's success - a victorious justice - depended to a large extent on the skills of the executioner and on how the convict (sodomite) behaved at the scaffold.

Those who accepted their verdicts as rightful punishment for their behaviour,
who showed an appropriate remorse and prayed to God for forgiveness, were the Darling of the Judges
( see ceramic sculpture below) and of the public.

In the days before the execution, church ministers spent much time with the culprit to prepare him for his encounter with God. .... Justice was victorious when the convict played his role, which was to convince the public that justice was done and that the judges had made the right decision.
In the 18 century the most common forms to carry out the death penalty were hanging, garroting, breaking on a wheel and drowning in a barrel of water. However different kinds of executions implied different degrees to which a person was robbed of his honour.

It was thus that a sodomite was presented at the scaffold and that
his punishment became part of a public discourse ( to educate the people); a sodomite was like a woman, he was a coward and he had committed high treason, in short he had betrayed every aspect of an honourable manhood - he had come to represent a third gender; a man who with free will had given up his male status, who has betrayed what his body ordained and thus had lost the prerogative of his sex".
(Herdt, G. 1994; 189)

Muscle-Mary Darling of the Judges (2008), for a symbolic explanation and the iconographic significance of the piece - visit the blog entry, ceramic art, with the title as mentioned above.