Monday, 27 June 2016

The Year in Art

Art influences society in different ways, and the best thing about it is that it keeps evolving. There is always something new to celebrate. Creative ideas spark from every corner of the art world. 2016 is halfway gone, and some trends have characterised the year so far. These trends are derived from different aspects from art sales to home decor to exhibits. Here is a look at what making waves so far this year.

Women and Art

The year so far has been very kind to women in art. They are having more than just a moment. Earlier in the year, the Saatchi Gallery had an all-female show titled Champagne Life. Women artists from all over the world took part in the show. The list included 14 artists with names like Mia Feuer, Mequitta Ahuja, Maha Malluh, Seung Ah Paik, Jelena Bulajic, Soheila Sokhanvari and Stephanie Quayle among others. From Malluh’s pre-Islamic suspended odes from the 6th Century to the telling portrait of the elderly done by Bulajic, the Saatchi Gallery wove a clear tale of the female creative mind. Earlier in the year, Victoria Miro put a showcase of Chantal Joffe’s works. There is also the Women of Abstract Expressionism show held in America and Georgia O’Keeffe’s July show in Britain. These shows looked to redefine the position of women in art and shatter the glass ceiling while at it.

Décor Trends

Art plays a significant role in home décor. A lot of people who buy art pieces do so to display them. When it comes to colours, blue and red are the two most searched, according to data. Street photography is growing in appeal largely due to the exposure on social media. Homeowners and interior decorators are using it on a large scale to add life into bare rooms. Statement art is also huge this year. Homeowners want to do it big and make a splash, exactly what statement pieces offer. Nude art was big last year, and it is still a hot commodity. Simplicity and elegance are the two traits most people will look for in nude art intended for wall hanging.

Non-Western Art

The year has also witnessed an improved appreciation of another art genre, and that is non-western. Galleries and collectors are discovering hidden treasures of art from around the world like Nigeria. Artists such as Yusuf Grillo and Peju Alatise are two that have put the West African country on the art map. The Asia Pacific Triennial is an annual event at the Queensland Art Gallery's that encourage cross-cultural exhibits in the Asia-Pacific region. The Fair of Contemporary African Art by Turia El Glaoui is another one that has been providing a platform for non-western art and finally, people are taking notice.

A lot can change as the year progresses and new trends will spring up but, for now, women and non-western are the hottest.

Wednesday, 18 May 2016

Art and Charity

An Overview of Nelson Mandela's Humbling Artwork

Great statesman and Nobel Laureate Nelson Mandela was incarcerated for 27 years, of which 17 were spent in the prison on Robben Island. Mr Mandela saw the fact that he and his fellow inmates had managed to survive the inhumane conditions as a victory for the human spirit, triumph that he has celebrated in his art – a passion of his that not many know about.

Art for the Wellbeing of Humanity

Although the exact value of Nelson Mandela's art isn't known, it is estimated to be worth quite a significant amount, with the proceeds of any sales to be used for charitable purposes. The Nobel Laureate started drawing after he was released from prison, in order to fund African charities for victims of AIDS and homeless children. According to Mr Mandela's wishes, the drawings are to be sold only to a buyer who will guarantee keeping them available for public display.

A Closer Look at the "My Robben Island" Series

Nelson Mandela completed the "My Robben Island" series in June 2003. There are 20+ charcoal drawings inspired by the time he spent imprisoned and depicting images that held great meaning to him during his incarceration.

Mr Mandela used simple black charcoal lines for his drawings, with certain chosen elements emphasised through pastel colours. The simple use of colour and line dominates all the sketches and holds a significant symbolic value. The whole series emanates a sort of childish innocence, which creates a uniquely interesting contrast with the subjects of the drawings.

Let's have a look at a few of the sketches in the "My Robben Island" series to better understand this great man's artwork.

• The Window

The Window represents a symbolic view of Table Mountain seen from behind the bars of a prison window. Although the mountain couldn’t actually be seen from Mr Mandela's cell, it is present in the sketch as a vivid symbol of the prisoners' hope for freedom.

• Hand of Africa

The work represents a drawing of Nelson Mandela's right hand. What has turned the sketch in an iconic symbol globally is the palm bearing a remarkable resemblance to the shape of Africa, as if Mandela were holding the continent in his hand.

• The Lighthouse

The Lighthouse kept the ships passing nearby safe from the dangerous rocks around Robben Island, but for Nelson Mandela and his fellow prisoners it was, most of all, a constant reminder of their incarceration and isolation, as well as of how impossible escaping the prison was.

Highly meaningful not only as artwork or a means to help Africa's charities, but as a symbol of this great man's immense inner power and disarming warmth, Nelson Mandela's drawings are of great historical significance and will always remind us of the awe-inspiring leader and his place in history.

Wednesday, 9 March 2016

Art Revisited

Nelson Mandela is without a doubt one of the most iconic figures in our times. Although this innovator has recently passed away, his life and art continue to pay silent testament to his struggles as well as his hopes. Having produced many of these pieces while incarcerated at Robben Island, viewing his numerous works provides us with a window into the soul of a man who was able to rise above grief and embrace the world around him.

The Robben Island Series

What is perhaps the most interesting feature of this series is the use of vibrant colour alongside what can only be called striking imagery that reflects both freedom and a lack of movement. Many feel that this unique synergy espouses an innate connection with the natural world even though Mr. Mandela was unable to leave his cell on many occasions.

Reflections of Robben Island

What is perhaps even more interesting is the fact that Nelson Mandela was able to express what can only be called a form of silent grief and a longing for the natural world. In contrast to the first series of Robben Island pieces, his "Reflections" are imbued with much more of a stark outlook. Perhaps this was his way to contemplate his own situation. Defined by sharper edges and portraying images such as a guard tower and barbed wire, the pain is evident within these works. Still, the warm colours seem to hint at a faith which lies far beyond the pale and forbidding environment.

Impressions of Africa

Shortly before his death, Mr. Mandela released a final collection of work entitled "Impressions of Africa". As he had always identified the continent with a certain amount of struggling and sadness, these pieces exude a silent and even haunting feel. Comprised of nothing more than hand prints upon a blank canvas, colours such as black, red and auburn once again reflect the very organic nature of his work and his personal connection to Africa as a whole.

As an artist, Nelson Mandela was somehow able to seamlessly capture struggle and triumph. This synergy is not easily accomplished and while suffering was certainly a theme throughout his creations, we are left with a sense of victory at the end. Offering a personal perspective on this maverick statesman, these examples are indelible illustrations of how human nature and past evils are able to find some form of reconciliation.

Tuesday, 23 February 2016

Nelson Mandela the artist

Nelson Mandela is described by some as the greatest and most loved leader of the 20th century. He died in 2013 aged 95, and in his lifetime he spent 27 years incarcerated, five years as the President of South Africa and his last years establishing the Mandela Foundation which continues to work towards a just society for everyone. In his 85th year, he began to create artwork which raised money for different charities. Nelson Mandela’s art captures his struggle, his hope and his motivation. Simple lines and a limited palette are used expertly to show the pain felt by many, but the changes that he believed were to come. Instead of being sombre and tragic, the pieces are filled with joy and show the artist’s ability to see good in everything.

In 2001 Mandela created five line drawings of his own hands in different positions portraying the poignant stages of his life. This collection was named The Struggle Series. Each piece has its own title: Struggle, Imprisonment, Freedom, Unity and Future. A motivational message in Mandela’s handwriting forms the last part of the series. They are humble images which say so much in a simple way. They tell Mandela’s life story concisely and poetically.

Mandela produced symbolic art using his hand print in 2002. The most iconic is entitled The Hand of Africa. Mandela made a print of his right hand in black paint originally to show the life and love lines on his palm, but he noticed that the void left in the middle of the handprint was shaped like the continent of Africa. This incredible image is a powerful one. He made two other pieces with children’s handprints surrounding his, one in black, and the other using shades of brown. These encourage the viewer to look into the future for Africa, and consider the next generation.

Mandela spent 18 years of his imprisonment on Robben Island which was, at the time, a high-security jail for political prisoners. He returned for a visit in 2002, and in the following year created 20 colourful drawings using photographs as a reference. These images are of places that meant something to Mandela, they represent the struggle he and other prisoners felt, or the hope they clung to. My Robben Island Series 1 includes The Window - a view from his cell through bars and across to Table Mountain, The Cell – a peek into his cell from the hallway, The Harbour, The Church and The Lighthouse. The pieces are all simple line drawings with three or four colours used to fill in the spaces. They are haunting images because they seem lifeless, empty and inhuman but yet colourful and bright. There is a motivational message with the collection penned in Mandela’s own hand describing his belief that things would get better.

Reflections of Robben Island Series 2 is a collection of five works produced a few months later. They include The Guard Tower, Mandela’s Walk, The Ward, The Courtyard and The Tennis Court. Again they are simple line drawings with a very limited palette of colours, but they are confident and powerful pieces. Mandela found something positive in every area of the prison, they meant something to him. For example, the prison hospital was an area where inmates could mix with other prisoners and share ideas or discuss thoughts, so he believed The Ward had some joy in it.

All of these work of art by Mandela had a limited number of lithographs produced, each numbered and signed, and these were sold to raise money for charities.

Tuesday, 26 January 2016

A History of Nelson Mandela's Art

Nelson Mandela was one of the world's leading political figures of the last 50 years, but there was something else he wasn't quite so well known for - his artwork. Coming to art late in life, in the early part of this century, Mandela's work was heavily influenced by his time in prison on Robben Island. After being released from jail in 1990, Mandela was elected South Africa's first black president in 1994. Mandela's many years on Robben Island inspired him to unite his nation, and his experiences there inspired his art too.

Mandela's drawings and paintings have not only become very important historically since his death late in 2013, but during his lifetime Mandela's artwork was sold to help raise money for children's charities in Africa. Highly valued, Mandela's artwork raised millions to help children on the continent.

One of Nelson Mandela's famous works of art is his pastel drawing from 2002, which was entitled The Hand of Africa. Part of Mandela's Impressions series, the drawing included a map of the African continent in the palm of the hand. While there were black and white and colour version of Impressions of Africa featuring many hands. The colour version represented the new 'rainbow nation' of South Africa - it was Mandela's vision to create a united South Africa that was free of the divisions of the past. Another very personal piece by Nelson Mandela is the drawing of Qunu, his home village. The village is also where the great man was buried.

Nelson Mandela created two series of works, which focused on his time on Robben Island, namely My Robben Island - Series I and Reflections of Robben Island - Series II. These are colourful works of art and not the bleak drawings we might expect. Though there are depictions of Mandela's cell and guard tower, there are also drawings of the lighthouse and church on Robben Island, as well as a drawing of the island's harbour.

Though many gifted artists have been inspired by Nelson Mandela enough to paint and draw him, artwork by Mandela himself will always be more valuable. Over the coming years and decades Nelson Mandela's artwork is also only likely to increase significantly in value. Mandela is arguably the most important figure in South African history, while few people have been a bigger instigator of positive change than him.

Monday, 4 January 2016

What you probably didn’t know about Belgravia gallery and Mandela art

Belgravia gallery
The Belgravia gallery is based on Maddox Street in the heart of the art district in Mayfair. The gallery has an emphasis on art for charity particularly funds for The Sebastian Hunter Memorial Trust. The gallery is run by mother and daughter team Anna Hunter and Laura Walford. 

The gallery offers advisory advice to both individual and corporate clients. The gallery works with clients to provide art which reflects personal style and taste and also that which captures the gallery’s ethos. 

The gallery offers advice on market trends to the established and upcoming artists. The gallery holds over 100 pieces of artwork including:

  • ·         Works by Picasso
  • ·         Andy Warhol
  • ·         Lithograph prints from Nelson Mandela
  • ·         HRH The Prince of wales
  • ·         CHARIE Mackesy etc.

Through the gallery’s state of the art ranking system, it enables works of art previously unseen or not part of the current exhibition, to be viewed all year round.

The gallery has a showroom just outside Guildford in the south east of England where works can be viewed in a more homely environment.

Mandela art
Nelson Mandela started drawing late in life. In his 80’s it was suggested to him that it would be a good way of him leaving a legacy to his family. He had an art teacher who helped advise him on colour and perspective and he returned to Robben Island where he took much inspiration for his drawings. 

The artworks are limited edition lithographs which feature many iconic images relevant to Nelson Mandela during his lifetime - the bars of his cell feature in one work entitled ‘The Window’, a piece called Key and Bars has been painted with his fingers and a replica of the key to his cell on Robben Island. 

Other works include the cell, the lighthouse, the church and the harbour.  His artwork captures his years on Robben Island with simple skill. Much has been said and written about these pieces - they have been drawn with strong, bright colours, not the bleak greys you may expect to find – a reflection of the positive light in which Mr Mandela was able to see many negatives in his life and that of his beloved country.

The artwork was drawn with a love which prevails over adversity and brutality that was experienced there. It shows the grace with which he triumphed over his past experiences and also offers viewers the opportunity to view the art and reflect on the message relating it to their own lives.

Other works were also launched after The My Robben Island series. These include The guard tower, Mandela’s Walk, The Courtyard, The Tennis Court and The Ward – a series known at the Reflections of Robben Island series. Other works by Nelson Mandela include: 

a)                 Key and bars- it contains two strong symbols of the 27 years of Nelson Mandela’s imprisonment. His fingers have slowly and deliberately drawn down the page in a heavy black paint to recreate the bars of his cell. The key to his cell has been replicated and cast into an edition of 3000, each numbered, which accompany this powerful edition. The edition has three thousand signed works worldwide each hand signed in pencil by Nelson Mandela. The signatures are verified by Cecil Greenfield, an eminent South African signature expert.
b)                 Struggle series- the piece is hand signed by Mandela underneath the artist’s motivation “these sketches are not so much about my life as they are about my own country, I drew hands because they are powerful instruments, hands can heal or hurt, punish or uplift. They can also be bound, but a quest for righteousness can never be repressed. In time, we broke lose the shackles of injustice, we joined hands across social divide and national boundaries between continents and over oceans and now we look to the future, knowing that even if age makes us wiser guides (it is) the youth that reminds us of love, of trust and of the value of life.” 25.7.2001 N. Mandela.
c)                  The Illustrated Long Walk to Freedom- this beautiful volume has been bound using the highest standards in traditional bookbinding methods. It is lavishly illustrated with 207 pages covering Mandela’s childhood in rural Africa, his move to Alexandra, a poor township of Johannesburg, where he learned about poverty and developed confidence and self -reliance. This highly collectible best -selling book comes in a lovely presentation box with a signed photograph of Nelson Mandela by Greg Bartley.
d)                 Impressions of Africa: black and white in this work, the imprints of the hands of children affected by HIV surround that of Nelson Mandela’s left hand. This image has a haunting sadness as it reflects Africa’s new and truly tragic dilemma. The numbers of those already afflicted by this disease are truly appalling. This artwork is reaching out to answer the new cry of those suffering in his country and Africa as a whole. It is valued at £9000.
e)                 Impressions of Africa: color – it is a colored art of the hand imprints.
f)                   Hand of Africa- the artwork shows the imprint of Mandela’s right hand. Throughout history, few have left an imprint on the international stage as Nelson Mandela. His courage, compassion, and humanity are among the qualities that led to his recognition as world’s greatest living statesman.
g)                 The tennis court- this artwork shows the transformation of the courtyard so the prisoners could exercise playing tennis which led to Mandela meditating on the perversity of being able to play such a civilized sport in a so brutal environment. It represents a two-year go slow strike which ended in 1977 and so did the forced menial labor.
h)                 Mandela’s walk- the colors Mandela use in this artwork show he is able to look at the brutally confining stretches of barbed wire in a positive light as he reflects on what the experience meant to him.
i)                   The courtyard in this piece he has drawn the courtyard that his cell looked onto. In was a grim wasteland where he eventually was able to cultivate vegetables. This piece comes in three parts; the color lithograph, the motivation piece and the photograph.
j)                   The ward- he drew the word on Robben Island. He says in the artist’s motivation that it was the only place they could talk and share information with other inmates and that it served as a vital link between the political and general prisoners who were kept apart. It comes in three parts; the color lithograph, the motivation and the photograph.
k)                  The guard tower- it is a symbol of the oppressive regime on Robben Island. Mandela’s vision of the tower conveys a sense of menace accentuated by the coils of barbed wire around the base of the guard tower. It comes in three parts; the color lithograph, the motivation and the photograph.
l)                   Artist’s motivation- it is a handwritten motivation by Nelson this piece, he says that Robben Island, as he sees it, is a celebration of the struggle and a symbol of the finest qualities of the human spirit rather than a monument to the brutal tyranny and oppression of apartheid.
m)               The light house- depicts the view of the light house on Robben Island.  To nelson Mandela, the lighthouse, which was used to ward off ships from the treacherous shores of the island, was both a beacon of hope and oppression.
n)                 The harbor- depicts the view of Robben Island where new prisoners would first set foot on the island. The landing stage would be their first contact with the prison island and the sea their last contact with freedom.
o)                 The church- symbolized a place in which they practiced and enjoyed religious and spiritual freedom. Although prisoners could never enter the church, it remained a powerful spiritual symbol. Color has been used throughout again indicating the powerful spiritual meaning of the church to Mandela.
p)                 The cell- depicts the view of his cell through the open cell door. The few possessions that prisoners were allowed are emphasized in color as they are symbolic of a link with the reality out of the harsh prison regime.
q)                 The window – depicts the view of Table Mountain thorough the bars of the prison cell. Since the mountain isn’t visible through the window, it idealizes the view by Mandela of freedom and beauty. The window is one of the sketches where color is used throughout depicting the deep emotional value and meaning attached by Mandela.