By Leenna Naidoo
I was introducing an acquaintance unfamiliar with South African artists work to a few that I know. I’m not an art fundi like my sister, so my choice was limited to my personal favourites and that of my sister. I was surprised to discover that my acquaintance (let’s call him Bob – who knew even less about art as I do) was indifferent to the classical and popular artists (Pierneef and Munro), preferring instead the whimsy of Glendine and the punny humor of Frans Groenewald. I did have to explain some of the more South African humor in Groenewald’s work, but the cuisine and vine references were very well received. We also briefly discussed the English Banksy and Scottish Vettriano, but they did not generate as much interest as our South African optimists. It was then that I realised that the word is once again ready for the whimsical and punny, the optimistic and cheerful, the childlike and the fun. Just to be sure, I asked Bob why he liked Glendine and Groenewald more than any of the others.
Bob, who had just returned from a trying experience abroad, explained that if he had to buy a piece of art he would prefer to have something he understood hanging up on the wall. He understood Glendine’s childlike view of the world – one he could share with his favourite kid. He also enjoyed the intelligent and not always obvious humor of Frans Groenewald. Basil and his companions would provide excellent talking points with any of his own acquaintances from around the world. He found most of the other artists too heavy in theme and perhaps dark in execution for everyday display, although he did appreciate their messages.
I also guessed that with all Bob had recently experienced, it was refreshing and heartening to see that there are people out there who are not caught up in exposing only the ugly and sensational (although such art is always needed too), but who try to share their joy in our daily experiences and who try to lift our hearts in a way that most other media tends to overwhelm with negativity, hopelessness, and often groundless fear.
So I reckoned, with there being two of us from such diverse backgrounds responding to the same art in the same way, that the world has got to be ready now for real whimsy, real intelligent puns (visual or not) and a good dose of fun to balance all the crashes we’ve lived through in 2014 alone.
Hooray (and many-coloured balloons) for Frans Groenewald, Glendine and company!
Read more about Frans Groenewald in SeeThroughIt Issue 1 and find him @ http://vespaghetti.co.za
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