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Nine year old artist reproduces famous Vincent Van Gogh self-portrait

The Gallery was very lucky to have the work of young Eli Williams on exhibition recently as part of our In With The New Exhibition.

At the young age of nine, Eli is set to make a stir in art circles in the coming months and years if his current level of talent is anything to go by. Eli, who has only just celebrated his ninth birthday, is an extremely talented grade 3 pupil at Sweet Valley Primary in Cape Town

who has been drawing and painting since he was three years old and is demonstrating rare skills at such a young age. This pint sized artist, who aspires to become a professional artist, and a robotics engineer, when he grows up, says he first started working with pencils and paper and then water colours.

His most recent artwork is an exceptional oil on canvas painting of Vincent Van Gogh. In With The New required that the participating artists put their own contemporary spin on classic artworks found in museums and collections around the world. It was this, coupled with his love for Vincent Van Gogh’s work that inspired Eli to recreate Van Gogh’s self-portrait of himself without a beard.

In the artists words, “the painting is about the size of my little brothers, Charlie and Sam – if they stand next to each other.” “I like the way Van Gogh paints – you don’t blend in each brush stroke. He’s just free in the way he paints and I love that,” says Eli, who also says that he is inspired by seeing a pencil and blank piece of paper and being able to use it. “I wish I had more spare time to draw and paint.”

Eli’s talent seems to be a family trait as his grandmother is Therese Mullins, a renowned Cape Town based artist who has been a top achiever in the Sanlam Portrait Awards and most recently was a finalist in the 2017 Living Portrait Master Competition. Eli’s grandfather, Allan Mullins, has been a friend of Astrid’s since childhood and Astrid says it is wonderful to watch such talent developing in Eli. “I suspect he will go far and hope that The Gallery can form part of his springboard.”

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Latest art trend revives centuries old photographic technique

Young South African artist Chloe Obermeyer is standing out from her contemporary peers through the use of an unusual 174-year-old photographic printing process called cyanotype, and using the technique to creative unique artworks with her own distinctive twist.

Obermeyer, who is a recent graduate of the Michaelis School of Fine Art, creates once-off artworks in a distinctive blue which portray her fascination with the natural world, especially the ocean.

I am intrigued by nature’s ability to perplex scientific conclusions and its tendency to inspire human imagination and fiction,” says Obermeyer. “This outlook was sparked during my graduate research, which was focused on creating an exhibition inspired by the serendipitous discovery of Coelacanths in Southern African waters. Currently, my works have often become a means of navigating my interest in Southern Africa’s oceans. I often touch on ideas surrounding scientific discovery, wonder and environmental concern.”

The process explained
Making a cyanotype involves placing a negative image — which could be an item or photographic negative
on treated paper or fabric. After a light sensitive solution is brushed on, the paper is placed under ultraviolet light, or in direct sun, to develop.

Basically, two light sensitive solutions are mixed together in a 1:1 ratio to form a work chemistry. This is then painted onto a surface such as paper or fabric and then left to dry in a place that contains no UV light. Once the surface is dry, I arrange the chosen items above it in a composition that is to my liking. If I am working with a printed photographic negative, I will make use of a glass pane to add pressure so that I can get accurate prints. This set-up is done in a UV safe environment before I move the whole thing outside into a bright, sunny spot where it can be exposed to UV radiation from the sun. After the print has been exposed, it is rinsed and developed in water followed by a hydrogen peroxide bath to bring out the rich blue,” explains Obermeyer.

The history of cyanotypes
The cyanotype process — from the Greek “cyan”, or “dark-blue impression” was invented around 1842 by the British astronomer and chemist John Frederick Herschel. Anna Atkins, considered by many to be the first female photographer and the first person to create a book of photo-based images, blended science and art in botanical cyanotypes, starting in the 1840s.

A long dormant technique, cyanotypes started to reappear in the 1960’s, when people started to be interested in reviving old photographic processes. Cyanotypes are both unusual and trendy at the same time. “It almost has a sort of alternative, cult following, especially with contemporary artists overseas,” says Obermeyer.

Obermeyer’s work is exhibited at The Gallery in Riebeek Kasteel. Owner and curator Astrid McLeod says that she is passionate about representing the young graduate artists but is particularly impressed by the unique nature of Obermeyer’s cyanotypes.

Whilst the technique itself, and the process of applying it to art, is not unique, it is not commonly seen in South Africa and Chloe’s work stands out from others not only because of its unusual nature but also its appealing content portrayed in an undeniably alluring deep blue.”

McLeod goes on to explain that Obermeyer is one of the participating artists in an upcoming exhibition entitled “In With The New” where artists have been invited to submit an artwork which puts their own contemporary spin onto classic paintings and sculptures which stand in art museums around the world. “Obermeyer has chosen Gustav Klimt as her inspiration for the exhibition, which opens on 11 August at The Gallery and runs until the end of September.”

For more information or to view some of Obermeyers work for sale please contact Astrid on 083 6533 697.

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Buying Prints, Linocuts and Etchings

Advice for buying prints, linocuts and etchings:

1) Choose a piece that you love – It should speak to you personally, and stay with you long after you leave the gallery.

2) Get help from a professional – galleries play a crucial role in helping buyers to discover what’s right for them.

3) Choose from small editions – ensure that the size of an edition has been determined before you purchase.

4) Make sure your print is an authentic edition – an authentic edition will be signed and numbered.

5) Buy early – whilst limited edition prints, linocuts and etchings don’t set out to be expensive, they may end up that way.

6) Conserve your art carefully – if you buy an unframed print, linocut or etching and arrange for your own framing, it is important to check that the framers use conservation grade materials to fix the piece within the frame.