Huisgenoot, Hartgenoot, Kultuurgenoot – 100jaar

Art portfolio- my work

The annual KKNK (Klein Karoo National Arts Festival) came to an end yesterday. I was fortunate to be included in a group exhibition during this years festival.

The exhibition was called: “Huisgenoot, Hargenoot, Kultuurgenoot – 100 jaar” curated by Sandra Hanekom. With this exhibition the “Huisgenoot” was celebrated for bringing stories to South Africans for the past 100 years and artists were invited to re-interpret the art of South African Masters that used to feature in the Huisgenoot in the past.

I was given the artist Maggie Laubser to revisit. I chose this iconic Self-portrait by her:

Self-Portrait by Maggie Laubser 1928

Self-Portrait by Maggie Laubser 1928

Met Rubber en gare herbesoek Hannalie Taute die ou Suid-Afrikaanse meester, Maggie Laubser se werk. Sy put inspirasie uit Maggie Laubser se selfportret van 1928. Nou, 88 jaar later probeer Taute om haar eie self-portret te borduur met kleur gare wat min of meer ooreenstem met die kleure wat Maggie Laubser in haar eie skildery gebruik het.  Hiermee probeer sy nie net om die meester na te boots nie, maar ook om haarself te vervorm tot die eksotiese blik van die ‘ander’- om na haarself te kyk deur die oë van Maggie Laubser, en om ʼn “gevoel” te kry oor hoe die meester haarself met kleur gesien het en te vra….”wat het ek en Maggie in gemeen?”

work in progress

work in progress

So the biggest challenge was to try and re-create my Self-portrait with the same colours that Maggie used in hers, but instead of oils, I used thread. Sitting in the same position. Wondering what do we really have in common? I did realise that it is much harder to try and “be” someone else than I thought.

Self-portrait after Maggie Laubser 2016 (cotton thread and rubber)

Self-portrait after Maggie Laubser 2016 (cotton thread and rubber)


on being painted….

Studio news/blog

I had a terrible self-image when I was a teenager.  I used to hate my big bulky fore-head.  When I rode my bicycle to school I tilted my head so that the wind blew my hair over my face.  I used copious amounts of hairspray to keep my fringe in place for fear of exposing my bulky fore-head.  No matter what my mom or others told me (for example that a big forehead is a sign of wisdom, blah blah blah) I didn’t believe them.

I always wore a fringe, up until my oldest son was born.  I didn’t have the time or energy to tend to a hairstyle with a baby in tow.  5 Years ago  I shaved my hair and wore my big bulky fore-head with pride.

A couple of days ago an artist friend of mine let me know that she is painting my portrait:

A portrait of me painted by Vanessa Berlein

A portrait of me painted by Vanessa Berlein

I feel honored being painted by her! I admire her skill, technique and talent! check out her blog here for more amazing work by Vanessa Berlein!

I also feel kinda weird (self-conscious) being ‘watched’ and so closely examined in order to be painted by her.

And I feel super strange seeing that big bulky fore-head again! (Its different seeing yourself in a mirror than seeing yourself through the eyes of someone else).

I cannot help but wonder how others eg: Mona Lisa felt after seeing the painted version of themselves?!

Suddenly I am thinking about a snippet of this ‘story’ from the book= “Possessing the secret of joy, by Alice Walker”:

….”Days went by when the only voice she heard was her inner one.

Soon, she began to listen to it.

Lara, it said, sit here, where the sun may kiss you.  And she did.

Lara, it said , lie here, where the moon can make love to you all night long.  And she did.

Lara, it said, one bright morning when she knew herself to have been well kissed and well loved:  sit here on this stone and look at your beautiful self in  the still waters of this stream.

Calmed by the guidance offered by her inner voice, Lara sat down on the stone and leaned over the water.  She took in her smooth, aubergine little snout, her delicate, pointed ears, her sleek, gleaming black fur.  She was beautiful!  And she was well kissed by the sun and well made love to by the moon.

For one whole day, Lara was content.  When her co-wife asked her fearfully why she was smiling, Lara only opened her mouth wider, in a grin.  The poor co-wife ran trembling off and found their husband, Baba, and dragged him back to look at Lara.  When Baba saw the smiling, well kissed, well made love to Lara, of course he could hardly wait to get his paws on her!  He could tell she was in love with someone else, and this aroused all his passion.

While Lala wept, Baba possessed Lara, who was looking over his shoulder at the moon.  Each day it seemed to Lara that the Lara in the stream was the only Lara worth having – so beautiful, so well kissed, and so well made love to.  And her inner voice assured her this was true.

So, one hot day when she could not tolerate the shrieks and groans of Baba and Lala as they tried to tear each other’s ears off because of her, Lara, who by now was quite indifferent to them both, leaned over and kissed her own serene reflection in the water, and held the kiss all the way to the bottom of the stream.”


Check out some more amazing portraits here!


another version….

Studio news/blog

I cant help to want to share this re-telling of another sort of fairytale, by one of my favourite artists: Marlene Dumas……

And God Said – I told you so

On 09/09/2011

God saw that art was all alone,
so he put him to sleep and gave him kitsch.

Or maybe, kitsch started with the fall from grace,
with the first denial, with the first stupid lie,
the first camouflage after Adam and Eve had
eaten from the tree of knowledge of good and evil.
When they started to look for ways to hide their nakedness
When Adam , with tears in his eyes, looked up to the
Heavens and said – she did it.

And God said – Get out of here, couldn’t
you think of something more original!

So off they went, beyond the gates,
to colonize the West and all the rest.
But just as they started to enjoy dancing around
the golden calves; God struck again in all
His eternal wisdom and amoral jealousy
And gave them the no-image commandment.

-Deuteronomium 5 verses 7, 8 and 9
“Thou shalt have none other gods before me.
Thou shalt not make thee any graven image
or any likeness of anything that is in
heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath
or that is in the waters beneath the earth:
thou shalt not bow down thyself unto them or serve them:
for I the Lord your God am a jealous God,
visiting the iniqiuty of the fathers upon the children,
unto the third and fourth generation…”
(Holy Bible-the Gideons 1961.u.s.a.)

And there for us (the children of Abraham, the
Father of the christians, muslims and the jews)
the image – problem started. Don’t blame the
modernists. They just re-discovered our old
mystic, abstract roots. They didn’t mean to make
it difficult, they just wanted to make it simple.

The catholic Jesus, tried to appease God by saying,
“Father forgive them for they know not what they’re doing,”
but then Jesus never painted a picture or wrote a book.
His fans did.

I was always concerned about what God would want me to do.
I always wondered if art was good enough for God. And if so,
What subject matter would be worth pursuing. I knew sexy was low,
erotic a bit higher and sorrow the noblest.
( MD -light, 1999 – A true hedonist is hard to find)

Now in 2006 we know that all subjects are equally low;
or rather as Freud paraphrased Goethe-“the highest and the lowest
are always closest to each other in the sphere of sexuality.”
I’d add, the same goes for politics ,too.

Give God a break. Let’s talk politics.
Kitsch started as a German word, they say.
Although I could have sworn it was an American invention,
or something that they used to make in China.
But we should’t blame the Germans for kitsch.
The third Reich put one off kitsch, but also off art.
When it came to paintings they liked kitsch,
but when it came to music, they liked art.
The South African Apartheid (pre 1994)
politicians didn’t care about art , but also didn’t
even know that kitsch existed. They just censored
anything that moved.

Kitsch is not pink,
if you want to give it a color, make it white,
(repeat, all the good reasons for no equal rights)
If you want to racialize it, give it a hood.
If you want to give it a sexual preferance
don’t make it gay.
I know the Taliban is not o.k.,
but no one should have to look at
the National Geographic all day.

Kitsch happened when we discovered that we
could immitate and reproduce ,whatever we want
without having to believe in it; without having
to cry or die for it; we can represent
anything without paying for it ,emotionally
intellectually or spiritually, because others
have, or will, pay for it.

Gerard Reve – Free love does not exist.

Celine – You don’t do anything for free.
You ‘ve got to pay. A story you make up,
that is’ nt worth anything. The only story
that counts is the one you pay for.
When it’s paid for , then you’ve got the right
to transform it.

And God said – I told you so.

Marlene Dumas

Written for and previously published in:
Kitsch Unedited. Letters and texts of friends compiled by Jan Andriesse, 2006, De Pont Museum of Contemporary Art, Tilburg

found on her website- click here

and of course I cannot help but want to share her version of Snow White:

Snow White and the Broken arm painted by Marlene Dumas 1988

Madonna and child through the ages

Art portfolio- my work

“Mother is the name of God on the lips of all children”

The above line was said in the movie ‘The Crow’ I think it was in the second one and not completely sure that I quoted it correctly, but it made a huge impact on me, even before I had children.  I used to think how amazing it must feel to be seen like that, but now I think how impossibly difficult it can be.

I was raised in a very patriarchal version of Christianity, and although my religious views have gone through a lot of different metamorphic stages, I am very much intrigued by the catholic matriarchal version.  Apparently there are a number of apocryphal texts, (the infancy Gospels) which elaborates on His early years, but why is it left out in the canonical gospels? Is the following maybe the reason?

There is nothing particularly Christian about the stories attributed to Jesus; rather, the stories elaborate on the missing years of Jesus with reference to Hellenistic legend and pious imagination.

I wonder what happened in and after the stable.

Was the birth difficult as promised to be after the fall?  Was there complications? Was Joseph present? Did the baby miraculously slide out of the uterus like the way he made is appearance inside it?

Did the baby Jesus have problems teething?  Did he suffer from diaper rash?

Did the Mother Mary suffer from prenatal depression?

I suspect that I am not the only one asking these questions.

In all the depictions I have seen of the Madonna and child she always looks so serene.  Not a worry in the world.  I presume it is because the church commissioned those works and wanted it so, or maybe it is the same reason why family photographs are almost always portrayed as happy go lucky even though they might have had a quarrel just before the shutter went off.

After the birth, did Joseph and Mary finally manage to find a home to raise their child?  Did he ever fall and hurt his knees?  Did he have friends?

“XI. 1 Now when he was six years old, his mother sendeth him to draw water and bear it into the house, and gave him a pitcher: but in the press he struck it against another and the pitcher was broken. 2 But Jesus spread out the garment which was upon him and filled it with water and brought it to his mother. And when his mother saw what was done she kissed him; and she kept within herself the mysteries which she saw him do.” -(

What was it like to be a mother in those days?

If I knew more about it, would it change my perception of the Madonna and Child, or even motherhood?

Maybe it’s just another fairytale, but then again in fairytales the mother doesn’t really make an appearance.

I have read somewhere that

“Madonna’s are a common idiom in Renaissance painting.  There was hardly an artist who did not attempt this great theme.  We can understand why.  The wonderful thing about the Madonna and Child theme is that it appeals both to the specifics of Christianity (where the humanity of Christ is a central mystery) and to the human values on which all religion is based, through out the world.  Every painter had a mother.  Every psyche has been affected by this fact.”

The painters of that time were mostly men, and I wonder if women where allowed to paint, would that  have changed the ‘image’ of the Madonna and child we so often see?