The world turns
Posted on 26 February 2018.
In 1984 I finished my PhD and opened my studio which I had locked away for a year to keep me focussed on the enchantments of Hermeneutics and Art Discourse.
But once back in, I went nuts and made about 40 big oils that I showed in 1985 at the Karen McKerron Gallery in Bryanston. Among those bought was a diptych called Time Machine. It was later re-sold and spent the last 30 or so years in a collection in Cape Town. I got a call from the owner last year to say he was moving out of his big premises and into a small apartment and needed to sell off much of his collection. After some discussion, I bought back this and another (from my first ever show in 1982) and have had them in my gallery in Schoenmakerskop.
Now there is a third collector who is taking the piece and I have spent the last couple of days touching up and repairing a work that I last applied paint to when I was 34 years old - half my present age! I turned on LM Radio to set the mood sort of and am now feeling that Time Machine (1985) has been appropriately resurrected. It was odd doing touch-ups because I was so tempted to "improve" things, but I did restrain myself in deference to the young Greg and his wild brushes and big colour. Pics of the work and the studio this morning.
Greg Kerr Programmes and One-Off Courses in 2018
Posted on 9 October 2017.
Artists and art students are invited to participate in a variety of programmes and one-off courses I’ll be offering in 2018 in venues around South Africa. Johannesburg, Cape Town, Port Elizabeth, Stanford, Prince Albert, The Crags and Riebeeck-Kasteel are being negotiated.
The programmes involve a year-long commitment to four sequential 4-day workshops with tuition before, during and after the contact sessions.
One-off courses are four days long and will include technical and other specialist areas of drawing and painting.
Interested persons can contact me via email at firstname.lastname@example.org to get onto my mail list and receive updates on the planning for the year.
Greg Kerr Fine Art Short Courses in 2017
Posted on 6 February 2017.
4-day workshops in 3 beautiful venues: Prince Albert 21 - 25 May; Schoenmakerskop 27 - 31 August; and The Crags 29 October - 2 November.
The courses will concentrate on the use of (soft chalk) pastel as a versatile and expressive medium. As pastel has the reputation of being “difficult” and limiting, owing usually to poor instruction at schools and elsewhere, my approach (developed over many years of working with tertiary painting students) is to assist the student to use the medium with a scope nearly as wide as oil painting. Four pieces will be tackled and the source material will consist of a number of small animals or insects carefully observed and creatively explored in the context of the particular venue.
Fees & Expenses
The tuition fees for Prince Albert & The Crags are R2 800 and for PE R2 600. Other expenses are travel, accommodation and meals and art equipment. I will send details of all these once I know who is interested.
Schoenmakerskop is a little village on the sea just outside of Port Elizabeth. There is B&B and Self-catering accommodation available and the studio is within walking distance of most of these. The first session will be held in my gallery on Marine Drive.
Prince Albert lies at the base of the famous Swartberg Mountains and is famous for its history and its charm. The classes are held about 23kms out of town on the Kredouw Olive Estate, a beautiful farm with a number of eco cottages and other luxury accommodation available. Students usually have lunch (5 Star!) together in the farm dining room. The dates are chosen to avoid the extreme weather of the Karoo and May promises to be perfect. If the days do get a bit too warm, there is pool to dive into, if the nights get a bit too cool, there are fires and blankets!
The Crags lies 20 or so kms to the East of Plettenberg Bay. Classes are held on the grounds of beautiful Redford House. Some students commute from the town and surrounding B&B’s, but others use the luxurious accommodation offered on the property. The owners, Clive and Colleen Noble, offer lunches (also 5 star!) and dinners by arrangement. A swimming pool, tennis court and delightful countryside are part of the attractions.
On email email@example.com or cell phone 082 4111472 for more information
Book Review: The Mind`s Eye: An Introduction to Making Images by Judith Mason
Posted on 9 January 2017.
Review by Gregory Kerr
In the late 1960's I was a student of Fine Arts at the University of the Witwatersrand. I was not a good student; I tended to take the lecturers for granted or to get into conflict with them. I was a difficult student. I think I wasted some splendid opportunities to improve myself. I was a lazy student. It was not their fault I was indolent, but some of the indolence came from a refusal to buy into the current fashions, which were flat, hardedge, and to me, sterile and pointless. I was a cocksure little bastard, for sure, and deserved everything I didn’t get from the brilliant academics who ran the show.
However, there was at least one person on the teaching staff for whom I had nothing but the utmost respect and affection, and that was the astonishing Judith Mason. Judy was teaching senior students in the department, but no one objected if there were gatecrashers at her crit sessions and though very callow and junior, I was a gatecrasher of note. She stuck in the brain like a special kind of revelatory sage, speaking with the tongues of angels and art students. She was not puffed up; she got to the nitty-gritties of the everyday existential crises of being an imaginative painter (and thus a demonstrably frivolous and irrelevant person) in a world of conscientious pragmatism. And she was neither flat nor hard-edge! She took it for granted that we all wanted to slay the plastic beast of painting, to find the path and the truth and the way and the light. She was a shining example of the artist, the ham-fisted wrestler with the craft and sullen business of finding, but she was also something else, something so rare that it intoxicated. She could find the words and the images and the poetics to speak directly to the acolyte. She made sense that was not the elegant sense of the art historians and design lecturers, but the thew-and-sinew- sense of the maker.
Reading The Mind's Eye was to be taken back forty-seven years into that studio in the John Moffat Building, listening to the dark-haired young woman with the strangely plat accent and the twinkle - the inevitable twinkle - of anti-earnestness sweetening the stern seriousness beneath the monologue. In this slim but rich volume - a wonderful companion to art-making - Mason allows herself the freedom to write as she speaks; from the hip, from the heart and (you’d better believe it) from the head. She addresses all the departments - the neuroses, the need for discipline, the compulsion to form. How does one tackle the metaphysics of the human face, the living anatomy, the stagnant psyche that refuses to paint? What is beautiful? (the answer will surprise you, but you must first draw or paint shrouded things, shadowed things, moving things, harsh, gross and edible things.)
Since I left Wits and her diverse influences, I have been making a living as a teacher of art - theory, education, drawing, painting, even history - god help us - and have developed strategies that address a range of issues: conceptual, perceptual, technical, historical, philosophical and psychological. I am quite proud of the strategies. I didn’t know until I read Mason’s book how very much my well-worn ideas, theories and methodology must have been shaped by her. I kept saying, “but I say that!” and I do, but so does she and so well, and she probably said it first. I shall be setting her text as prescribed reading for my professional students because she says things that absolutely are required drumming-into-the-head stuff for anyone faced with the prospect of making art. She is gung ho on looking very hard at things and choosing things that do not immediately declare themselves to be lovely. She is stern with base matters like techniques and (contra mode) believes passionately in the dark and numinous power of the creative imagination expressed in a stern and controlled emotion - what Yeats called, "the rag and bone shop of the human heart".
Anyone who knows the history of Judith Mason, as do I - the clot-fisted schoolboy acolyte who saw her drawings in the 101 Gallery in 1967 (and had a damascene experience right there and then) and who has followed this straight talking mystic over fifty years of poetics, romance, religion, Africa and her place in it, who has learned from her what it is like to stand aghast and amused at the demented business of making paintings, despite all kinds of logic and reason - will recognize in this pearl of a book much of the commentary that has accompanied her artwork over the years; what she herself has described, quoting T.S. Eliot, as the fragments that shore up our ruins.
From the rich soil of a fabulously informed and intrepid imagination, Mason has grown a history of dark metaphors for our singular place in the evolution of Africa. Her book, despite her disclaimer, "this is not a how-to book. It is a how-to-think-about-how-to book," is the perfect concordance to that history. Read it, artist, and learn!
Workshops 2017 - The Baroque Theatre Box
Posted on 4 November 2016.
Next year's programme is more specifically rooted in art history - the Baroque - and the idea is to exploit the dramatic qualities of the style in the exploration of a variety of theatrical stage sets that can be manipulated and cross-referenced to generate a variety of idiosyncratic and unusual images. There will be an emphasis on the technical side of oil painting using the Baroque as a basic model but branching out later.
The Johannesburg and Cape Town classes are full but Port Elizabeth still has places.
I can be contacted on 082 411 1472 or firstname.lastname@example.org for details on the programme and registration.
Greg Kerr Fine Art Workshops 2016 - Old Masters, New Spaces
Posted on 3 November 2016.
Another year of amazing work from students around the country. This year's theme was partly formal, involving the manipulation of various kinds of spaces, including environments, and some Old Master images, all in the interests of extending individual ideas and interests. The two pieces illustrated above are typical of the kinds of exploitations that students tried.
The final workshop may be over, but the business is not. I am hoping very much that the impetus of the year's journey will take students into the next couple of months of consolidation, elaboration and completion of the paintings. As students send me pictures I’ll post onto this site and onto the dedicated Greg Kerr Workshops 2017 Facebook page.