‘Onion in a Bell Jar’
Opening Address by Master Painter, Philosopher and Art Lecturer Andries Gouws:
‘It is an honour to be able to say a few words by way of opening Weyers’ exhibition “The Object Being”.
There are wonderful non-observational painters, such as Magritte and Guston. And then there are wonderful artists who work observationally, such as Manet, Lucian Freud, Giacometti (in his drawings) or Avigdor Arikha.
Weyers is an observational painter. So tonight I’ll make some remarks on observational painting, and try to indicate why he is so very good at this – a painter’s painter, I would say.
Detail of ‘Skulp, Ghoen en Skeerkwas’
His paintings look unpretentious and straightforward, and in a sense they are. But how difficult it is to remain so unpretentious and straightforward! Especially given a lot of prevalent misconceptions which tell us that observational painting is uninteresting unless supplemented by Something Else, such as a signature ‘style”. Everybody feels that they need a ‘style’, which as often as not degenerates into a collection of tics, automatisms and mannerisms, which dilute the purity of the essential process of looking and doing justice to what is seen.
People think observing and responding to what one observes is the easy and uninteresting part – if we did that, everybody would be painting exactly the same because we all see the same thing. The interesting part would then when one adds a second, separate element to what is observed, this is where the personal, expressive part would come in. People are wrong.
For, turning their eyes towards the same thing, no two people see the same thing. The expression of individuality is already there in what one sees. And, as there is no way to ‘literally copy’ what one sees, the rendition of what one sees is also inescapably personal. So, the loop between object, eye, brain and hand from which observational painting arises, is essentially personal, and revealing of the personality and emotions of the artist.
Detail of ‘Little Book, Big Fish, Little Big Boss’
Painting from life is very difficult, something full of pitfalls. Weyers avoids these pitfalls beautifully, and is highly discriminating in his observation of colour, tonality and the effects of ambient light. The whites and off-whites in a painting are something only the most skilled painters pull off. Here as well as in the cast shadows we see Weyers’ surefooted use of colour. Like me, Weyers loves what he sees when the light source is behind what he is painting – so-called contrejour lighting. I, however, usually desist from painting anything with this lighting, because I don’t manage to pull it off. Weyers does.
Weyers often uses the shadows cast by this counterlight as an occasion for some swinging from the chandeliers, a cadenza in which he as soloist can infuse the score with some virtuoso fireworks.
Many painters embrace a loose, fresh application of paint, without marrying this to a discerning grasp of colour, tonality and form. It often seems that the feeling is that the more arbitrary one’s painting is as to colour, tonality and brush stroke, the more artistic it is. With Weyers freshness and precision go hand in hand. Not only do the colours and the light seem lifelike (something without which one can still be a wonderful colourist); but when Weyers’ colours meet each other the sparks fly (something without which no-one can be a good colourist).
‘Ou Aflaaiplek, Elandsbaai’
As to Weyers’ subject matter, this tends to come from his everyday surroundings, things that no-one would consider beautiful in themselves. His paintings of them turn into celebrations, especially because of his grasp of sunlight and the loving way in which even the most humble object is painted. This lyricism does not prevent the paintings from also having a deadpan quality. This goes well with the fact that in person Weyers has an unpretentious, I’m just an unsophisticated boytjie from the platteland, attitude.
There is often a whackiness and playfulness in the choice of objects that are juxtaposed with each other, a playfulness also found in the titles and the way the image is cropped. There is a considerable amount of eroticism, often underplayed, in the phallic bananas (usually overripe, for Freud knows what reason!), the juicy tins of canned fruit, the fleshy tones visible through the slit in a seashell.
All these virtues may be invisible or seem unimportant to those who have not yet looked at a lot of paintings and grown to distinguish between what is run of the mill and what is exceptional. However, together these virtues add up to an art that is truly exceptional, something unlike that of any artist.’
Langverwagt Farm, 05/12/2016