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Tina Skukan Gallery 2006

EXHIBITION: OIL & CERAMIC TEXTURES, Eric Duplan & Rebecca Tetley
- Professor Ora Jobert

It is indeed an honour to open today's remarkable exhibition, although I want to point out my profession – with the double “f”- is far more of a personal nature than anything remotely, academically profound. Instead, my insights are based on my personal association with the artists ,whom, foremost, happen to be close friends.

Any combined exhibition is difficult, because of the diversity of medium and subject matter. To me, the challenge was to find similarities, which initially seemed daunting, but after I, yesterday visited the exhibition, became increasingly obvious.

Both Rebecca and Eric where born outside South Africa: Eric in France , Rebecca in Swaziland, but soon moved to South Africa; in Eric's instance, via the Congo and Rwanda, and in Rebecca's via Witkoppen to Broederstroom. And yet, they both share a deep love for this land as exemplary in their work.

Both attribute their appreciation for the arts entirely to their parents. Apart from a musician and an amateur artist for a mother, Eric's civil engineer father introduced him at an early age to the wonders of perspective, hence his interst in line and technical excellence.

In Rebecca's instance it would not be too far fetched to suggest similarities between her sensuous vessels and the animated house sculpted by Tatti – Michael Fleisher – or with the creative exuberance of her talented mother, Tessa, an esteemed jeweler.

Rebecca and Eric attended the same Art, Ballet & Music School in Johannesburg, but although slightly acquainted, they more recently became friends.

A career in the arts an obvious choice for both. Rebecca obtained a degree in Fine Arts from the University of Stellenbosch, whereas Eric – initially intent on becoming an architect – attended a course in stained glass-making and interior design, but soon moved onto a career as a free-lance illustrator in adversising.

Both are strongly motivated by their paths of heart, which took Eric from Johannesburg to a farm on the West Coast and ultimately brouhgt him to Pretoria.

Rebecca's emotive journeys took her to a farm outside Stellenbosch, in time returned her to Broederstroom and then moved her on to Cape Town, where she currently resides.

Finally, both are adverse to overt theorizing, and hugely reluctant to talk about their work, which under no circumstances, distract from the dedication with which they practice their art; from the seriousness of their artistic pursuites. But which leaves us to draw our own conclusions.

Apart from Eric's autobiographic portraits, his so-called 'Clumsy Kings', his paintings are mostly landscapes. He extends the boundaries, though, far beyond the confies of excellent draftsmanship and super realism. Instead, his landscapes are hugely personalized; they are mindscapes, given the highly original manner in which he combines the typo- and carographic with ancient markings and archetypal symbols.

In so doing, Eric creates a highly original work that are spiritually-loaded and intensely moving.

His images are so powerful – even haunting – that they linger in one's own minds' eye long afterviewing them.

Rebecca – together with her able assistant Zo Mpheka – also extends the boundaries of the ancient craft of pottery beyond the narrow confines of form and decoration.

In Rebecca's instance, the process of making, of material, structure, of space, light and other tactile sensatins are, by her own admission, the true artistic challenges.

In a world of over-commercialization and glut, the honesty of the work on display resonates deeply; and yet they are hugely familiar; they are place-responsive, imbued with all the sensations so pertinant to the experience of the African landscape; paramount, its unadulerated, timeless sense of beauty.

Although a sign of discernment, to me, the only frustration is the fact that there are almost too few works on display. This exhibition is like an aperitif, leaving one with a craving for considerably more. But on the other hand, as mature and as excellent as the work may be, it signifies an ongoing artistic exploration, forecing us to look forward to numerous exhibitions in the years ahead.

Notwithstanding, I thank you for sharing your creative journey with us, and I commend you both with superb work and a profound exhibition.

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