Wisdom from my mother

True strength is being able to HOLD it together when everyone is expecting you to fall apart, to fail….

Don’t be a victim to anyone or anything… you control your destiny.

Don’t quit now… then they all win. Your future does not lie in front of you, it lies deep inside you – and nobody (and I mean NOBODY) can make you feel inferior without your permission – LET YOUR DREAMS TAKE FLIGHT AND CREATE THE LIFE YOU’VE ALWAYS IMAGINED!

Be strong, your time as a caterpillar has expired – your wings are ready…


The loudest silence

Its been months since I last had the courage to sit myself down and face the changes, face the reality and ultimately come to terms with the fact that I have entered the next chapter of my adult life.
There are certain milestones we all need to reach in order to move from one space of our life’s into the next. The crux is we are never quite ready for these changes; these changes are colossal, these changes come with sets of difficulties, but ultimately they lead us into the life we aspire to live. The milestones I have conquered in the last few months were once just dreams; simple wishes thrown into the universe, prayers made to the Lord and quite frankly, a shit load of hard work that turned into something.
You know, I sit in my very own apartment right now; I am surrounded by things I have accumulated by the money I have earned from my very first job. I sit here alone. Utterly surrounded by the silence that has become my only companion. And it’s so typical of my disposition to think form this perspective: instead of being so enthralled with the life I have dreamed about and now posses, I rather get encompassed by the sadness. I let the hurt, the past and the that-which-I-do-not-yet-have move in, pack out and set up permanent home. The silence is so deafening that I can hear my heart in my throat.
For a long time silence has scared me. I would try and fill it with any sound possible. The thing is, this silence can be heard even through the loudest of noise. Once you have become drained by the silence, and then finally build up enough courage to endure it, soon enough you start welcoming it. And it is at this point that I promise you the secret is revealed: once you welcome the silence, you become one with it.
It is only when you get quiet with life that you can hear what it is trying to tell you.
It tells me that life is simple and we make it hard. It tells me that if you want to say something, speak up before its too late.
It says to tell that person how they make you feel – whether that be good or bad.
It tells you to keep on being quiet and just, listen.
We try so hard to make sense of things and compartmentalise it all that we build up such strong resistance against the natural flow of things. Everything is as it should be. Nothing is out of place. The lesson from all of this can be sumed up in one single, powerful word: ALLOW.

They were never a match to the relationship you tried to create.

Thank those who have left; thank them for being a catalyst that came along to gift you with the ability to sharpen who you really are. Those that leave your life were a catalyst in the creation of who you are and what you want (and don’t want), and who you ever evolve to be.

There is somehting so much bigger in the future than anything you ever left behind.

Let it go.


The reminiscent cup

It is often said that photographs lie, and that portraits do not, as portraits reveal the character behind the face. It is also said that only if a photographer knows the human being in front of the camera can the character be captured, and a picture be made into a portrait.

It is demanded from a good portrait to understand the subject, it will just be another photograph unless a statement is made about the person being photographed. Bert Steyn, a renowned photographer whose subjects included Marilyn Monroe and Elizabeth Taylor, said it perfectly when he meant that “when a portrait evokes a feeling, you’ve got something. All you want is a believable moment”.

With this portrait we notice the natural light and how there is no background, all the attention is fully focused on the physical aspects of the subject – suggesting character and expression by pose. It is a seemingly natural pose for a natural expression, which is, in this case, the sipping from a tea cup. But, since this is not just a photograph capturing a moment or a part of life, but a portrait capturing character and a glimpse into the eyes of a soul – it is far more than just the sipping of yet another cup of tea.

If we had to pay attention to the pose of the subject; looking away, holding a tea cup up to the face, a deliberate pretense and exaggeration is displayed. That very tea cup represents, to the subject personally, much more than the monetary value of its porcelain base and gold plated rims suggest.

The cup will be inherited, passed down from my mother to me. Originally a wedding gift to my mom and biological father, it suggests the significance of things passed down, of the new generation doing better than the previous.

If the gesture of the hand and body can emphasize or help to express a thought or feeling, we have already established this to be more than a photograph, but a portrait. For the face, eyes and their expressions reflect character – the only thing that permits the viewers to see the inner person.

Seemingly it was a moment of complete contentment being captured, and could not have been done by anyone but the sitter self. For when taking the portrait I would be the only one knowing that this was just a pretense, a moment frozen, and captured, hoping that the eyes will tell a different story than what surface value suggests.

Thus this is a portrait of a girl, taking a sip from this tea cup with so much family history, with equal future promises, the gaze she has – one of gratitude, a distinct moment of happiness, and most importantly, hope – that this tea cup might bring her more luck than it ever did its original receivers.






China’s art

If we consider China’s art history, and where it would fall in within the history of Western art, China is as an example of a country considered by the West as the ‘other’. It was a generation of artists that emerged in the mid-1990s, uring the time China was still mostly a rural nation, under Mao Zedong, and experienced the decade-long Cultural Revolution that started in 1966.

Art was prolifically propaganda-oriented paintings, prints or portraits reflecting not only conditions at the time, but also a Chinese identity formed when the country was isolated from the rest of the world and its influences. Leng Lin, an art critic and curator from Beijing, thinks China in the 21th Century is now luckier: “for this younger generation, Chinese identity is not the most important thing, because the artists exist in a globalized world”. There is a surmountable difference that has slowly evolved from artists in that generation, to the current generation. Chinese artists might have an innate need to be within their own, but their work is still very Chinese-culture oriented, despite Western exposure through education.

“They [artists under Mao] experienced the Cultural Revolution and the expression after such suppression. But for our generation, our reaction would be more concrete, more prosperous, more various, and more heterogeneous. The reality we are facing is not a post-revolution situation. We are more connected to a materialistic world. We have different actions, more subtle” is how Li Qing, one of China’s most successful artist sums it up.

China has reportedly been the biggest art market in terms of art revenue. Sotheby’s Institute launched an Auction House in China and the auction earners’ revenue has far surpassed some of the West’s greatest artists like Andy Warhol and Picasso.

The auction house is for timeless, provenance-rich pieces that guarantee an investment turnover a good 10 years later. If Chinese artists are producing pieces that sell at auction for over $100 million, yes, $100 million, then why is there a significant decline in investor interest?

Authenticity has long been a debate within the discourse of art; what is authentic, who creates what idea, did Warhol ever have any of his own ideas or did he simply just create a commodity out of already existing consumer products? When it comes to Fine Art, and the multi-billion dollar market that is High Art, counterfeits is an act of forgery. China’s forgery of art dates from at least the Sung Dynasty (960-1280) when the wealthy began to collect art. Forged paintings were mostly made by students seeking to imitate the masters, and those who can’t buy the originals, will settle to buy the imitated ones by the students. And this created the market for fakes.

Picasso highlighted the notion that the name of the artist would become more of a commodity than the art he produced. By the time Picasso reached his popularity, this is exactly what happened – the artists name on an art work can increase the value tenfold, and Picasso inspired this notion to carry on into Modern Art today. But this also saw the breeding of counterfeits, because people want to see the name on the painting and pay less for it than an original. This is why the market for ‘genuine fakes’ is rapidly growing.

China’s work ethic to create mass production in the cheapest, fastest way is directly reflected into the art market. But these counterfeits of high-end pieces are becoming a major problem. When these get exported and sold in other countries, a huge collection of counterfeits are globalized. And this is a problem for foreign investors interested in innovative and creative pieces not seen yet. This is not only happening in China though. All over the world there are people looking to buy great art works, but don’t have the six digit bank account to do it. So they settle for fakes. It’s why people buy the ‘Made in China’ copy. They buy for the name. Not the quality. Catering for the domestic market.

The world’s art market is in dire search for new artists’ work that can topple the Old Masters. The art market now sees itself wanting a change, an injection of new movements and artistic minds. It’s a risk that has already paid off. Chinese artists have created works of art that sold for triple that of a Warhol or a Picasso. The world is interested in China, and more so, in Chinese Art. Art could become the front runner in the Chinese economy.

Chi Peng, a Chinese artist, says that “China has the attention of the world on it, so you think it is lucky. But China is really naked in front of the world, so it actually is unlucky.”

Although the smaller art market sees some success in the selling of counterfeit artwork, it is not a sustainable practice. It is only a matter of time that it blows up and those creating and buying fakes are exploited. The smaller market of selling counterfeits is slowly affecting the larger, global art market. These works need to be eradicated so that the Fine Art market, which is dominated by galleries and auction houses, can claim back the reign of being spaces where art as a commodity is respected and appreciated for the skill and intelligent matter it is.

If China continues the production and distribution of counterfeit art, over that of producing authentic Chinese art, foreign investors are going to develop a sense of ‘Caveat Emptor’; a Latin phrase for “let the buyer beware”. If China can turn this practice through adversity, the growth of their economy means continuum prosperity in the economy for the rest of the world. The wealthy sees the art market a solid investment as a result of the works selling for well over the $100 million mark. There is a melt-up in the art market; meaning a tremendous surplus of capital. Todd Levin explains that high-net-worth individuals are investing their surplus capital in assets that will appreciate. And these assets are authentic, high end works that include some of China’s new-generation artist’s. In China, any art work over 50 years old is ‘ripe for the copy’. China’s wealthy commission Chinese artists to create copies of Western masterpieces. This takes away from them reaching their own artistic excellence. An archeologist would agree that art is fundamental to understanding generations and civilization. Each artist of its generation should represent the generation and its changes they find themselves in. China must let their artists create more of their own art pieces. It’s imitation versus imagination.