Those looking for an outing of the artistic persuasion in Johannesburg should look no further than ‘Artists Under the Sun’, an open air ‘gallery’ which regularly brings together over 100 artists along the borders of Zoo Lake.
According to event secretary Val Landau, Artists Under the Sun - which is a non-profit organisation - has been going for 55 years and is the largest outdoor fine art exhibition of its kind in South Africa. Both professional and amateur artists from all corners of the country gather on the first weekend of every month to display their pieces to the public which makes for a wonderful alternate outing for families and art lovers alike.
Landau explains that artists are selected twice a year by a panel following which they are allowed to display their work for a minimal membership fee. Refreshingly, all types of art and subject matter are exhibited and prices vary greatly from piece to piece and from artist to artist. That said, most pieces are affordably priced with a view to making the works more accessible.
Marian Hammon was just one of the many artists who displayed work on the 2nd of August. Hammon has exhibited for 20 years and enjoys working predominantly with watercolours because of their “unpredictability”. Her whimsical watercolours featured beautiful flowers and scenes which wouldn’t be out of place in children’s books and can be bought at prices ranging from R295 to R5000 on average.
Artist, miniaturist and art teacher Leonora de Lange also had a collection of pieces on display which were particularly captivating. According to the Miniature Art Society of South Africa to which De Lange is affiliated, miniatures must be mounted on acid free board and framed and cannot measure more than 170x170mm in total. De Lange’s miniatures - which feature everything from old men, ducks and insects - have won awards in both the UK and America and cost between R800 and R1,500 each. When De Lange isn’t painting, she teaches art to others at various studios around Johannesburg.
Honourary Artists Under the Sun member Lenor Berry’s work had an Asian slant which is unsurprising given she was once instructed by a master of the Shanghai University. Many of her unpretentious pieces featured renditions of bamboo and poppies on handmade rice paper. Unlike many other artists, Berry’s images are created purely from memory.
Wim Kosch is arguably Artists Under the Sun’s ‘best seller’. Kosch, who is married to award winning opera singer Debbie Kosch illustrated an interest in drawing from a very young age. Over the years he has earned a reputation for his expert oil paintings of charismatic highveld landscapes and animals which are based on photos he takes at various safari parks. His works have also been successfully exhibited at galleries all over the world.
In terms of materials, Kosch uses paint and canvas from overseas which while expensive, make for better quality paintings he says. It takes Kosch between a week and ten days to create a piece from scratch which sell for around R15 000 each at Artists Under the Sun. He explains that no matter the economy, people will always find the money to buy good works of art. He adds that far from dwindling, South Africa’s art community is growing which he attributes in part to the fact that unemployment in the formal sector is on the rise.
Steven Jansen van Vuuren’s work couldn’t have been more different from Kosch’s. Van Vuuren (who also goes by the name Ewaldi) specialises in big, bold abstract oil pieces which are open to interpretation. Van Vuuren revels in free movement and colour and describes each piece as a “lucky packet.” Depending on the piece, many of which have been snapped up by upmarket golf estates and hotels, Van Vuuren’s work can cost between R2000 and R21 000 each.
In a far more controlled vein, Boderick Somana’s work depicted stylised forms comprising tiny, individual dots of acrylic paint which are painstakingly applied with a toothpick. Somana works as a fulltime artist and has been a member of Artists Under the Sun since 2007. His colourful pieces sell from R3, 500 each.
Of course there were numerous other artists and pieces on display. In a nutshell, there is something for everyone at Artists Under the Sun - including boerewors rolls, coffee and ice cream which is on sale for those who feel peckish. For more information on how to get to Artists Under the Sun and how you can get involved and/or donate to this worthy organisation, go to www.artistsunderthesun.co.za
Definitely add 'Artists Under the Sun' this on your list of things to do in Johannesburg