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A Portrait of a Young Artist Series: North vs South

Posted on 14 November 2012

Artcoza presents A Portrait of a Young Artist Series , a range of articles showcasing art student talent from various tertiary institutions throughout the country. Each review will investigate whether the final year students have what it takes to make a change to the South African art scene.

This week's edition features the talent from the capital city at the University of Pretoria and UNISA Cape Town talented student's abilities.

University of Pretoria presents Exhibit A

by Marilyn de Freitas.

The Fine Arts Final Year exhibition titled "Exhibit A" opened at the Rautenbach Hall, University of Pretoria on Tuesday 6 November. Twenty one students tackled various mediums such as painting, sculpture, print-making, photography, film-making and mixed media. Leo Haese, the president of the Convocation of the University of Pretoria was a guest speaker at the event. The works were presented in various themes that attempted to intrigued and entice the audience.

The students presented a series of works surrounding a theme into makeshift ?solo? exhibitions experimenting with various media such as video, traditional and conceptual art pieces. Libby Bell's series titled Home?Where? and This is my home, not yours were technically and compositionally strong. Justin Bergh's Untitled series of drawings show a mastering of the technique in dark and eerie images. Heidi Fourie's oils reminded one of primarily figurative and traditional still lives with a strong atmospheric quality achieved by the use of muted colour. Allen Laing's installation resembling an artist studio complete with dirty coffee mugs and empty pizza boxes created an interesting artist atmosphere of struggle and creation that is more or less artful to a degree reflecting a versatile and creative mind.

The honing of artistic ideas and technical skills in preparation for a professional fine art career was lacking in this exhibition. Themes of mass production, digital manipulation, philosophy and self-indulgent subject matter were attempted by the students but lacked the ability to inspire its audience.

The exhibition endeavored to present a spirit of new inventive ideas however the themes presented by some of the students were banal and uninteresting. The exhibition seemed to test the student?s artistic limitations of established disciplines where video works lacked thought and the large amount of digital works and prints presented either fear in mastering a technique or laziness in trying.

The culmination of four years of studying Fine Arts has come to an end for these students. The experience gained at this exhibition has perhaps left them enlightened as they become fine artists and enter the art market. Experience is that marvelous thing that enables you to recognize a mistake when you make it again ? Franklin P. Jones.

UNISA shines with budding stars

by Mandy Conidaris.

This exhibition comprises final year projects by six Cape Town-based UNISA Visual Arts students. It is at The Lovell Gallery in Woodstock and runs from 6 ? 17 November 2012.

Each student's theme has relevance in the contemporary world, some controversial, others intimate. These installations show diversity in visual form and individual approach, and the artworks invite engagement in an open manner. The common factor in this exhibition lies in each student's sophisticated technical skill, attention to detail, material choices which inform the concept, and a professional awareness in the setting up of the work.

Zyma Amien's Supreme Good was created during the time of the school textbook debacle in Limpopo Province. Her installation consists of a seemingly chaotic mass of abandoned school desks tumbling from the ceiling, while a mechanized kinetic sculpture makes random pencil marks on a sheet of paper. Questions are raised around the way education is used for purposes of social engineering and how we are all affected by it.

With Between pause and wait, Ingrid Bolton investigates the impact of copper theft on train commuters. Her materials, copper and glass, exploit light and shadow; one work, a figure 'drawn' in copper wire, fixed to the outside gallery wall and sprayed with paint was swiftly stolen, leaving the stenciled image behind. Here the shadows and traces represent residue and the stolen parts of the commuters' lives.

Noeleen Kleve explores verbal connection and disconnection through translation with Dialoguing dialect, motivated by her weekly art classes with youth from the Ocean View community. Using text drawn from confused conversations between them, Kleve has created her installation of sound, alphabet blocks carved with text and graffiti, prints and an artist book, linked visually with text elements on the walls and floor.

In Anatomy of branchless trees, Heidi Mouret responds to her own infertility through endometriosis. Mouret comments that, although on the increase, this is little spoken of. Her visually quiet works, created with stitched fabric, beeswax and photographs, are rich with subtle metaphor, such as the suspended tree branches with fabric hung as prayers for conception, alluding to the sense of rootlessness which often accompanies infertility.

With Broederbond, Pierre le Riche considers homosexuality within the context of Afrikaner masculinity, maintaining that post-1994, rugby was all the Afrikaner male had to cling to. Here he has subverted the traditional voorkamer by knitting pink covers for the furniture and TV, which soundlessly plays the 1995 World Cup Rugby Final, so creating a space for viewers to knit and discuss any topic, however taboo.

Mem Sevenster's Fivel Etter Words Other Sounds centres on her experience with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. Her own obsession is with the number five, and this installation, comprising a wall work, a video, two sound pieces and a series of five manipulated books highlight this fixation. The visually dense wall work is the focal piece, and contains elements of the other works.

These graduates should move forward with confidence into their professional careers. Already two have won top National awards this year with their third-year artworks: Amien was the winner of the 2012 PPC Cement Young Concrete Sculptor Award with her work The day they came for our house; while Bolton won the 2012 Sasol New Signatures competition with her work Un(sea)n. An interesting group, over their years of study a supportive network has grown between them, fostering a spirit of mutual respect and generosity. As individual artists their commitment and dedication, not only to their work, but to the issues facing the country and world at large, should prove an asset to the South African art world.

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