A hero of South Africa. His time on earth may have come to en end, but his legacy will live on forever.
"For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland." Isaiah 43:19
I had the privilege of going to the launch of Holly Kavonic’s “Images of Africa”, display at the Artisan Gallery in Durban. I was able to meet her in person, and have a friendly introductory chat and catch a glimpse into her world by asking some questions on the techniques and tools she uses to produce such magnificent art. It was such a wonderful experience and thought I’d share a few of my thoughts.
To those who are unaware of who Holly Kavonic is, let me help you get up to speed. She is a hyper-realist painter, who currently resides in California, however was originally from South Africa. To read up on her complete biography have a peek at www.hollykavonic.com
In my own painting I have never felt drawn to paint realistic, but more impressionistic. I don’t have anything against it, but rather I just allowed my artistic style to develop in a way that felt natural rather than consciously decide on a style and force it out. Holly Kavonic’s art has, however, inspired me in new ways to pursue a more realistic approach basically because of the truth it brings out in her subject matters. She paints the truth, and not what her impression of it is, but rather she reflects perfectly what is in front of her. I admire this, because so often artists are trying to force on the world their impressions and personal view points rather than telling the world what it really needs to hear, in a language everyone can understand and that is the truth. I believe there is a place for expressionism and all the other art styles, but it is also so refreshing to see art that reflects the truth. Holly’s subject matters, which are predominantly portraits, are so realistic it feels like the people themselves are telling their own stories to us and there is such power in that.
There was one thing Holly said to me when describing her art style, that will always stick with me and that is..Its like a sum, a paint by numbers,(excepts its not) and while you are painting you are doing the sum; adding together all the pieces, and the end result, that is the answer. Such a beautiful analogy. She doesn’t have to come to the answer herself, but rather if she puts all the pieces together perfectly, then the answer comes out perfect.
"My goal is the Renaissance- the Rehabilitation … of Beauty, through a great deal of precision and detail. I believe that a return to Realism suggests a return to the “unseen truths” such as transcendence, God, spirituality, beauty, natural law, justice, truth, virtue, order, and harmony which I believe Modernism has stripped away." …Holly Kavonic
Some other things I learnt from her which were interesting:
- It took her 6 weeks to finish her painting titled, “Gogo” (look it up, its beautiful)
- Due to her experience as a Graphic designer she has used her skills there to assist her painting, so she loads up her chosen subject matter and then can zoom in to get up close to detail…brilliant idea.
- Only listening to music for years can get to you, so she shakes things up a bit with audio books while she paints.
- She make her prints using a high tech method known as Giclee prints.
- She does take photos for her subject matters herself sometimes, but she mainly has photographers she commissions to take the photos for her.
What an amazing artist, not only is she hugely talented, but she is also a wonderful person that oozes life, truth and purity. Loved meeting her and will definitely be following her artistic actions for future inspiration.
In Honour of Steve Biko ( Anti-Apartheid activist who started the Black Consciousness Movement) 18 Dec 1946 - 12 Sept 1977
“Everything is meaningless,” says the Teacher, “completely meaningless!
What do people get for all their hard work under the sun? Generations come and generations go, but the earth never changes. The sun rises and the sun sets, then hurries around to rise again. The wind blows south, and then turns north. Around and around it goes, blowing in circles. Rivers run into the sea, but the sea is never full. Then the water returns again to the rivers and flows out again to the sea. Everything is wearisome beyond description. No matter how much we see, we are never satisfied. No matter how much we hear, we are not content.
History merely repeats itself. It has all been done before. Nothing under the sun is truly new. Sometimes people say, “Here is something new!” But actually it is old; nothing is ever truly new. We don’t remember what happened in the past, and in future generations, no one will remember what we are doing now.
I drew this image that was so clearly stuck in my mind, of thousands of people busy piling rocks on top of each other in a desert like surrounding. Its almost humorous and yet very sad at the same time. We all find our little plot of land on this earth and start building what we think our lives should look like. We keep ourselves busy, but what are we really doing? What is the point to what you spend your day doing? I thought of this line that a lot of people say “I am so busy all the time, that there is no time to do anything”, I don’t think that when people say this that they realize what they are actually saying, because they are quite right in fact, they are so busy doing stuff but achieving nothing.
I think everyone who looks at this sketch will come to some revelation themselves, from building success for yourselves to the ineffectiveness of isolated living styles..and seriously feel free to let the metaphors flow But what I was trying to capture was a vibe, of these weird people working tirelessly; building ineffective structures in the middle of nowhere, and they are so oblivious to the craziness of what they are doing, but to them it seems so important. They are consumed in themselves and what they are doing, so much so that they have lost perspective of life, and so their lives have become meaningless and futile.
In their quest to achieve building their obscure rock pile, they have all isolated themselves and in their quest to find individual success they have all become the same and none of them are achieving anything worthwhile.
This picture serves as a plea to not become consumed with the unimportant things in life. When things seem meaningless, the only way to fix this is to remind yourself what the meaning is. Where do you get your meaning? There is only one place we as a human race can find it, and that is at the foot of the cross of Jesus, and the life He came to bring. We are not called to build with dead things like rocks, but rather with people who are living and breathing, and not for ourselves but for the Kingdom of God.
Without Jesus, our lives would all be meaningless, I know mine would. Though sometimes I still find myself with a rock in my hand, feeling exhausted with the idea of building another rock pile. This is why I earlier explained it as funny and sad, because its more like a laugh-cry that I usually have when I realize I’ve lost the plot again and start laughing because I see how funny it is that I’ve been building rock sculptures, and then I start to cry because of all the people still building their rock piles around me.
It is so freeing to know that I can put my rock on the floor and walk forward victorious, resting in the presence of God, not the abilities (more like inabilities) that I think I have.
Take at least one chance today, you only have this day once, so make it count. Or maybe its you giving another person a second chance, if you think you deserve another chance, then so do they. Take one, or give one, and either way a life will be changed because of it.
Well hello there…another beautiful day has stumbled upon us, and though studying my next module is a priority of mine, I have managed to beat the blues and found this hipster picnic blanket, a large-enough-cup-to-drown-in and filled it with green tea, an arrangement of highlighters (such fun) and a small pile of nibbles. So no time to chit chat, because I feel a highly productful day coming my way:)
One of my favorite quotes is “Nothing is ever as it seems”. Simple, but true in many ways. Just when I think I have an idea pinned down or a person described, then suddenly they do something so unexpected and I remind myself that actually, nothing is ever as it seems. There is a sense of uncertainty in this discovery of mine as Im sure you could understand. Its the lack of certainty that is so disarming. However, it is extremely freeing at the same time. Scary, but freeing. Its consistent in it’s inconsistency and that is something you can be sure of. There are quite a few things we can be sure of in this world, for example, the sun. Has it ever let you down? Did it just one day decide to take a break, sleep in, catch a little more shut eye? No ways! It is consistent. Perhaps you are thinking, “ahah” (said in a distinct Queen Latifah tone), the weather is the most inconsistent thing I can refer to. I se it this way, the seasons are consistent in their inconsistencies. Summer, then Autumn, followed by Winter and finally Spring, and round it goes again. The cycle is timeless. It never changes order. This week marks the first official week of spring in South Africa (where I live) However, I woke up on the 1st of September, and honestly didn’t feel like anything had changed, but as you know nothing is ever as it seems, and below the surface of the dry grass and the hard soil, lies the bubbling and rumbling of the promise of renewed life. The grass will begin to change form and turn green. Flowers will erupt out of nowhere in triumphant color. The spring rains will come and life is inevitable! Its not as if the plants were dead, it just wasn’t time yet for them to bloom. They were simply waiting for the opportune moment when they could all sing out together in a divine chorus of color.
The earth reflects us in many ways; a mirror of our own character traits. I read that flowers are the earths way of laughing. We all go through emotional up and downs, just like the earth finds a time to laugh through the celebration of spring, it expresses winters sadness, summers heated exuberance and the shock of death of autumn. Maybe you aren’t feeling the joy of spring at the moment, but rather things are a little heated such as summer, or are you sensing things are dying inside of you, or perhaps just being put to sleep, when winter creeps in, hope is dead and dreams are no more. But things are never as it seems, and weather is consistent, and so spring does come again. Just when you think you have your life pinned down, God shows you something unexpected, that you never saw before. It was always there, but simply hidden. It was rumbling below the surface of obvious death, but life was waiting for its opportune moment to reveal itself. Suddenly your joy is back, and you laugh like the flowers of the earth. Its time to reveal your colors. Dare to laugh and put yourself out there.
We all have plans
Jobs tasks activities
Cant’s want’s can’s
We all have hopes
Bills lists fines
Type sign notes
We all have dreams
Eat sleep wear
Run shop clean
We all have pain
Study read cook
Tweet bleed laugh
Walk stand sit run run run
Chug lug slug glug chug lug lug lug
Kick scream shout
I WANT OUT!
I have a dream…
A purpose and hope
I have desires…
Emotion, love hate
I breathe, I feel, I hope, I cry, I laugh
I taste, I smell the air…
I beat to the rhythm of life not the program of a performance
Up until this point I have been rather abstract and distant in the topics and images I have chosen to share in this blog of mine. So I have decided to bring things a little closer to home. I realized how I have been waiting around to go places, to see and experience beautiful things. In the mean time I have been missing the beauty all around me. I have been blinded by my own desires and not appreciative of the colour and life right in my reach. In a recent film I have watched, “Now You See Me” one of the magicians says this line… “Look closely, because the closer you think you are, the less you will actually see.”…while concentrating on the details one can easily miss the bigger picture, may I never become bogged down by the distractions of life and open my eyes to whats around me. The world is waiting to be explored, and Im keen for an adventure so what better place to start than at the beginning (cheesey line I know) but I mean it, because the greatest adventures and stories of life are those that happen at home.
"The need to restore the lost sense of beauty that the dehumanization of industry has forced upon society" William Morris
This cry of an artist of the past has been an echo of many people since…and continues to reverberate in the expressions of art and society. In my current series of paintings, entitled “Reflections” I search deeper into this meaning and attempt to discover what statement means to society and to myself.
When you look in the mirror, or catch a glimpse of yourself in a shop window what you are seeing is reality in another form. Its the truth of what really exists, and it does not lie. Reflections don’t hide anything, they just perhaps aren’t that clear at times. The question is, what does society see in the mirror and what is our response? William Morris’ quote answers this question from one particular view point, and that is a lost sense of beauty. Instead what is seen is a dehumanization of industry and a forceful, heartless society.
Aesthetic artist Burne Jones said, when commenting on his subject matter of predominantly women,. “The central motif remains the woman. In decorate works she is spiritualized to represent a pure and ideal beauty”. The beauty of women is a metaphorical parallel to the beauty of society, and creates a strong link in many realities. Women are the most obvious examples of dehumanization, and when women are hurt then the world around them turns dark and grey. Women are abused and taken into captivity under the deadly grasps of human expectations, leaving the women (beauty) to slowly bleed to death without her realizing its even happening.
In my series “Reflections” I want to capture a fairytale like ideal, by depicting women (the ultimate symbol of beauty) in a mystical dreamlike way, so as to enforce the pure and ideal beauty that has been lost into our human ways. Burne Jones said, ” I mean by a picture a beautiful romantic dream of something that never was, never will be - in a light better than any that ever shone - in a land no one can define or remember, only desire - and the forms divinely beautiful.” I want to capture in my paintings a dream, a wish and a hope that lives in our human hearts and a picture of perfection, purity and blissful beauty; something that we all know will never be found in its entirety on this earth, but perhaps in small pockets of divine manipulation.
At the same time I want to feed in the foreboding feeling of a deep darkness that tries to seep in to destroy this utopian ideal. The heartache of society is strongly evident. there are broken dreams, hopes, and struggles that weigh on the human race and suffocate any life that had the possibility of blossoming into something beautiful.
My first painting i titled “Transcendent” meaning…excelling, surpassing, excelling human experience, not realizable in experience, existing apart from, not subject to limitations of, the material universe. (Oxford Dictionary). Beauty is a heavenly reality, and earth fights for it, but the battle rages on between the mortality and immortality of its existence. Beauty exists on this earth as a promise to something far greater. We hold onto this hope, but the darkness wages on the borders creeping into, as can be seen in the painting, the women (beauty) carries this light and hope, but she has to exist in a dark reality that desires to keep her in captivity. There is a sense of a deep struggle in this painting, but at the same time “Beauty” carries a sense of hope and calmness and continues to walk into the future she has with courage.
My second painting is titled “Salvation” and is based on the scripture Psalm 103 :14-17 which says, “For He knows how weak we are, he remembers we are only dust. Our days on earth are like grass, like wildflowers as we bloom and die. The wind blows, and we are gone - as though we had never been here. But the love of the Lord remains forever with those who fear him. This salvation extends to the children’s children.”
This painting comments on the mortality of humans and how the truest form of beauty ever expressed is through the most purest act of love that breathes life and thus beauty into our souls. Although we are fading and withering away, through salvation we are being renewed and made alive through the love of Jesus Christ. This is the only way beauty can be restored into society.
The link of lace used in both paintings refers to the expectations of women’s beauty in society and although to some it may appear attractive it is a chain that keeps women captive. What we view as beauty on earth is not true beauty at all. We are not beautiful because of how we look but because of what we are capable of doing. Beauty is a description of an action, not a “look”. Its the ability to find restoration in what was once stolen and holding on tightly that no darkness can ever wrap its grasps around your truth.