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Voete van staal, hart van klei

deur Suzanne Venter

Rooi Rose Oktober 2006

Foto: Robert Hamblin

Op skool was sy rugbyafrigters bereid om R50 te betaal vir enigeen wat voor 'n groot wedstryd mans genoeg was om met die reus skoor te soek sodat hy aggressief konraak. Maar dit was nie so maklik nie, want die seun, wat toe net duskant twee meter in sy skoene gestaan het, is 'n geduldige ou. Hy was ook nie regtig mal oor rugby nie, hy het maar uitgehelp omdat hy kon.

'Ek moes altyd allerhande goed doen wat ek nie regtig wou doen nie omdat ek so groot is,' se die beeldhouer - wat 'n goeie dosis Skotse bloed in sy are het - terwyl hy vir ons in sy kilt poseer.

Al die gekarring oor sy standbeeld van hoofman Tshwane kon ook nie daarin slaag om hom verkeerd op te vryf nie. Ook nie toe een van die beelde wat deel is van sy jongste uitstalling, 'Deduct', onder 'n paar verveelde studente se verfkwaste deurgeloop het nie. Hulle het die standbeeld van 'n naakte swartman, getiteld 'Positive', se gesalgsdele met die ou landsvlag toegeverf. Hy het bloot vir die grafiese studente toestemming gegee om die ou landsvlag met die nuwe een toe te verf. 'Ek het die reaksie verwelkom, dit het baie mense na die uitstalling gelok, en hulle gedwing om betrokke te raak. Maar dit is tog 'n jammerte as die reaksie polities van aard is. Die verf is niks, dit sal bine minute afgebrand kan word sonder om die beeld te beskadig.'

Angus probeer om sy beelde vir Jan en alleman toeganklik te maak. So het hy onlangs as deel van die Sunday times se honderdste verjaardagvieringe 'n bronsbeeld van Brenda Fassie voor Bassline in Newtown, Johannesburg opgerig. Sy sit en sing op 'n kroegstoeltjie met 'n lee stoeltjie langs haar sodat mense langs haar die 'township Madonna' kan gaan sit. Die brons is al blink gepoets van almal wat kom sit, vat, soen, en selfs gesels. Hy was ook verantwoordelik vir die enorme marmerbeelde by Emperors Palace.

Sy 'Deduct'-uitstalling fokus op manlikheid en die wroegings van manwees, en bestaan uit reusbeelde van onder meer graniet, hout en staal. Die uitstalling het groot opslae gemaak, en nie net oor die geverfde geslagsdele nie.

'Toe ek beeldende kuns gaan swot, het ek besluit om op beeldhou te fokus omdat dit driedimensioneel is. Dis wonderlik om aan iets te werk en die eidresultaat avn alle kante te kan bekyk en bevoel,' se Angus.

Hy is in 1970 in Hillbrow gebore, die kind van ' skilder-ma en joernalis-pa. Sy ma het hulle van kleins af gedwing om daagliks 'n skets te maak wat sy nagesien het.

'Dit was goeie oefening, terselfdertyd het dit ons selfdissipline geleer en gedwing om basiese kunselemente onder die knie te kry. Dis jammer dat daar deesdae so min aandag aan die basiese gekenk word, soos om goed te kan teken. Baie studente dink dis nie meer nodig nie, maar dies nonsense,' se Angus, wat ook deeltyds klas gee by die Universiteit van Pretoria en die Open Window-kunsakademie.

Na skool is hy weermag toe en het dit veral geniet omdat hy daar aan allerhande sportsoorte kon deelneem. Hy is steeds 'n kranige driekampatleet.

Daarna het hy B.Com. gaan swot omdat hy gedink het dis 'n verantwoordelike keuse. Na 'n paar dae het hy besef dis nie vir hom nie. Daar was net een passie: beeldende kuns. Maar hy moes self betaal, en het dadelik deeltyds begin werk om aan die lewe te bly. So het hy by Eddie en Cathy Struwe beland waar hy hul gietery tot in 1997 bestuur het. Hy het die onderneming na sy finale jaar (wat hy met 'n onderskeiding geslaag het) by hulle oorgeneem, en in 1998 sy eie onderneming, Dionysus Sculpture Works, gestig. 'n Jaar later het hy sy eerste solo-uitstalling gehou.

Op die oomblik het hy twintig mense wat vir hom werk, ten spyte daarvan dat die eienaar nie 'n B.Com.-graad het nie.


Press Photo

Brenda Fassie

Sunday Times 2006

The making of Brenda

"Where there was a camera, she reacted to it like a magnet ... So she's engaging with the person walking past," said Angus Taylor of his sculpture of Brenda Fassie.

THE CONCEPT

As a starting point, Angus was presented with José Villa Soberon's sculpture of John Lennon in a park in Havana, Cuba. In other words, said Taylor, the idea was to create a sculpture which opened up a photo opportunity and with which the viewer could engage.

CREATING THE ARTWORK

Taylor started with research. "The better you understand the person you are working with, the better the sculpture will relay not just facial features but hopefully character and body language will come through too." For weeks Taylor's studio at his foundry in Pretoria was filled with photos of the singer, including one he blew up to poster size. A DVD of Fassie performing and being interviewed, released after her death, played continuously on a TV screen. Taylor also used a live model to perfect Fassie's pose and to position the muscles correctly. First he sculpted Fassie in potter's clay. Then a silicone mould was made into which he cast the oil-based clay copy of the sculpture. This clay was then finely modelled. Onto her body, Taylor added text - some of Brenda's most famous sayings - before making a second silicone rubber mould. Then a wax copy was made and invested into a ceramic shell mould. The wax was burnt out and 1 300° molten bronze was poured in.

When the now solid metal had cooled, the ceramic shell was chiselled off. Each part was cleaned, welded together and polished before being treated with patina. This is a process whereby the bronze is rusted to the desired colour. Finally, the sculpture was sealed with wax and transported to the site in Newtown, Johannesburg

The creative process is seldom without hiccups. One morning a Sunday Times team arrived at the foundry to find Taylor re-working Fassie's facial features. "I chopped her head off last night," he said. "And I turned her arms around … everything's changed!"

THE FINAL PRODUCT

The final product is a 1.570-metre lifesize bronze sculpture sitting on a stool, next to another stool and in front of a standing microphone. The piece is mounted on a bronze stage, 350mm high with a 200mm step-up. There is text superimposed on the body, all quotes by Fassie on her relationship with the media. Using words on sculpture is nothing new for Taylor. "Text is imposed on visual art quite a bit, and the text is important so I thought I'm sommer going to do it."

THE EFFECT

From the moment the Fassie sculpture started to be installed outside the Bassline in Newtown, Johannesburg, passers-by strolling along the paved walkway expressed astonishment.

"That's Brenda, isn't it? It looks like she is going to say 'Hello'. Is she going to stay here?" were some of the comments.

One man stopped to ask what was happening. "It looks exactly like her," he said, laughing. "Who knows if she would have liked it? She was so crazy."


“Replika van Dawid-beeld vorder vinnig”

deur Chris Smith

Emperors Casino

Eersdaags by hotel en casino te sien'n Presiese replica van die Dawid-beeld in Florence vorder vinnig in die fabriek na 'n Pretorianer, mnr Angus Taylor [29] Taylor, een van Suid-Afrika se voorste beeldhouers, het reeds 12 beelde voltooi wat al in die Caesars Hotel en Casino in Kempton Park pronk.|

Die dertiende een, die replica van Michaelangelo se Dawid-beeld kom eersdaags sy plek tussen die ander beelde inneem. Hy sal altesaam vyftien beelde uit die Romeinse tydperk maak.

Die Dawid-beeld is egter geen gewone beeld nie. Dawid sal in sy volle glorie 5.17 m hoog-drie keer lewensgrootte-pryk.

On dié kolos van 'n beeld te maak, is geen maklike taak nie. Taylor moes na Florence gaan om die oorspronklike beeld vir vier dae lank te bestudeer om foto-en fotogrammateriaal bymekaar te maak.

Van Taylor se beelde wat reeds hul tuiste in die hotel gevind het, is twee lewensgrootte Romeinse soldate, twee leus, ses borsbeelde van Romeinse gode wat anderhalwe keer lewensgrootte is en beelde van 3.2 m hoog van Marcus Antonius en Cleopatra.

Ná die Dawid-beeld sal beelde van 3.7m hoog van Keiser Augustus en Julius Caesar mense by die gewilde hotel en casino verwelkom.

“Om Cleopatra te maak, was die moeilikste,”sê Taylor. “Dit is altyd maklik om mans te maak, want hulle moer groot en fors wees. Dit is egter maar 'n gesukkel om 'n vrou klein en viets te hou as haar voete volgens skaal 40 cm lank is.”

Hoewel Taylor 'n geleentheid om die beelde te maak opreg waardeer, sal hy eersdaags sy eie groot beelde wil maak en nie volgens iemand anders se oorspronklike kunswerk nie.

Taylor sê hy het met kuns grootgeword.Sy ma was 'n skilder en sy pa, Bruce Taylor, was jare lank 'n joernalis by Beeld.

“Van hulle het ek baie gekry en toe ek klein was, moes ons elke dag saam met ons huiswerk 'n skests vir my ma indien. Ek het saam met my pa geleer sweis en dit is baie belangrik in my werk."

Nadat hy vir sy sestiende verjaarsdag 'n kwart ton klei by sy pa gekry het, is dit geen wonder nie dat Taylor eintlik as beeldhouer sy ding sou doen.

Hy het in sy tweede jaar as student in die beeldende kunste, 'n nasionale kompetiese vir beeldhouers gewen en verlede jaar 'n uitstalling gehou.

“Oor een ding is ek jammer,”sê hy,”Michaelangelo het sy Dawid-beeld klaargemaak voor sy dertigste verjaarsdag."

"Ek word more dertig en sou graag myne ook voor dan wou klaarmaak.”


“Giant David gets SA perspective”

by Myrtle Ryan

Pretoria sculptor, Angus van Zyl Taylor is putting the finishing touches on what he believes is only one of only a few replicas of Michelangelo’s renowned 16th century marble statue of David, the biblical slayer of Goliath.

It is earmarked for Caesar’s casino hotel complex in Gauteng, the nearest many South Africans will get to the world-renowned original which stands in the Accademia gallery in the Italian city of Florence, where Michelangelo lived and worked.

Taylor is involved in a race against time, “It took Michelangelo three years to shape the original, we have only three months to deliver ours,” he said. He has also had to rent a special warehouse to work because his own studio is not large enough.

Looking at art books was not enough. “I went to Florence to study the original,” he said. “First came the maquette, a model down-scaled to a quarter of the size of the original which is 5.17m high.The next step was the armature, a steel structure just like the sculpture, but 12 centimetres smaller all round.

This is filled with polystyrene, then wrapped with aluminium wire which doesn’t rust. This was all clad in clay, then the modelling began.”

A special lift was also required, with a two-meter platform on it, from which the sculptor worked.

“The platform is two meters away from the statue. From this distance you refine and define. You need that space in order to gain perspective.”

Michelangelo’s David, arguably the most famous sculpture of the Italian Renaissance, has only been copied a few times.

The original was placed in an open square in Florence, but was moved indoors because of concern about the deterioration from pollution of the marble. A marble copy now stands there. In addition, a bronze copy stands on a hill above Florence. An earlier sculptor, Donatello, also crafted David, the first free-standing nude sculpture in Western art since antiquity.

David is the 13th sculpture Taylor has completed for the casino complex.

Others are Mark Anthony and Cleopatra, six busts of Roman gods, two life-size Roman centurions and two lions.


“Free to be enterprising”

Africana and Other Baggage

Who said concrete was cold, grey and conventional?

Certainly not Angus Taylor, Vanessa Moore or Antoinette Murdoch- respectively first, second and third prize winners in the 1994 PPC Young Concrete Sculptor competition.

At the presentation of the awards, the PPC director: Cement Marketing and Distribution, Mr Tasker, said: ”The PPC Young Concrete Sculptor Award certainly goes beyond the realms of normal art exhibitions. It allows entrants to express their artistic freedom in an affordable medium.”

Mr Tasker also officially opened the Concrete Sculptor exhibition which will run until October 13 at the SA Association of Art. All the competition entrants display their work at the exhibition.

Angus Taylor, a second year student at the University of Pretoria, titled his winning entry 'Omdat dit nie voorheen moontlik was nie.' It is a larger than life sculpture of a man sitting in a chair “thinking.”

According to Angus it is not narrative, but rather gives viewers a sense of contemplation. Being a first time entrant, he finds concrete an affordable medium and enjoys working with the large volumes the medium is able to produce.

Beside the winning entries, there are host of other controversial pieces-certain to spark a debate in the art world-to be seen at this exhibition.

For more information phone Nandi Hilliard at the SA Association of Art on 346-3100.


Africana and Other Baggage

Taylor, for all his Scottish name, is a ware Afrikaner, and his excellent bronzes explore a culture in transition: in particular, the ending of the forcibly imposed Afrikaner hegemony, and the liberation of women.

In the punningly named S.A.L.EK? series, women are literally considering whether to fly. His Boeremeisies wear kappies, long black stockings and little else as they in search of new horizons. This is his first solo show: it won’t be his last.


Louisemarie Combrink - Commentary (Summarised)

Taylor’s work speaks to the viewer in gentle but determined tomes, creating a gradual confrontation loaded with subtle hints – a multi-dimetional plane. Inherent in Taylor’s work is an imminent sense of strength. It may seem paradoxical that he almost invariably chooses to convey this sense of strength using the female figure as vehicle of expression. Taylor’s women are fiercely aware of their active cor, and can in no way be confined to subjects of the male gaze who passively wait to be surveyed, consumed. Female figures, for Taylor, functions also on the level of the metaphorical – not the conventional Venus-type of erotic beauty, but rather conveyors of a range of emotions. These emotions he describe as liberation, calm, victorious, determined. The woman often suggests even a trace of arrogance, and as such there may be a suggestion of political satire as she evades the male territory of victory and power.

The artist suggests that this insistence on a strong female protagonist, may have been prompted by his patriarchal domineering father, whose overbearing manner created in the artist a desire to subvert the norm, and instead create a strong female protagonist

Taylor constantly refers to the importance of skill. He regards the ability to deal with materials as a crucial element in his work. Taylor uses materials with a deliberate awareness of their contribution to the content of the works. His range includes bronze, alumuminium, steel, stainless steel and concrete, often-in combination. In most words there is a marked contrast between highly finished, polished surfaces and rougher elements such as cement where one sees the imperfections of the unfinished surface next to the glowing polished metal. The artist indicates that this contrast is metaphorical of existence, where the yin/yang, good/evil, up/down and other such pairs of opposites create the balance of being.

Beauty seduces. Once the viewer has been gripped, the layers of suggestion will further seduce him or her.

Louisemarie Combrink


The woman is young; she is beautiful albeit with particularly firm feathers; she has long hair that coils elaborately outwards into horn-like headdresses, flies upwards with furious energy, or is contained by caps or bonnets and develops spikes, like those of the Statue of Liberty. She is athletic and muscular, yet tall, slender and sleek. She is, in each sculpture, not exactly the same women: here she is more delicate of feature and inward looking, more fiery and confrontational, although her face shows little emotion. Her dress is a simple tunic or fitted bathing costume, of no particular time or culture, a kind of generic or universal garb

Taylor’s woman has a certain presence and an aura of power and nobility. Although a goddess as well as a personal archetype, this figure is simultaneously undoubtedly contemporary, from the modern rather than the ancient world. This woman is furthermore sensual, even erotic, she is direct or looks inward, not coy, strong rather than soft.

Meaning in artworks can be discovered not only in images but also in the material used, as well as in techniques and processes, While parts of the torsos are made in cement, giving them solidity, weight and simplicity, the flesh is rendered in bronze or aluminium. Aluminium is an industrial material. Yet silver, the colour of aluminium, is associated with Selene and Hecate, the moon goddesses, and with fertility, and the passage from life to death and from death to life (Tresidder 1999: 136). It suggests the colder light of night, and makes the woman more mysterious and spiritual.

What emerges from the above is that these are complex artworks, with a layering of potential meanings that are diverse, fluid, even contradictory. Artworks such as these, like symbols themselves, “are unrestrictive because they crystallize ideas without confirming them, [and have] complex, sometimes ambiguous meanings” (Tresidder 1999: 6).

Ingrid Stevens


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