Thursday 22 March 2012

Soaring in celestial auroras

Gustav "Jack" Kaltenbrun passed away Sunday morning (18 March 2012). He told me over a year ago that he was ill and not long for this world - but he lived life fully until the last, painting and exhibiting and viewing art. Last year he exhibited new work at Grahamstown festival and in October he toured the Prado in his wheel chair with his wife Pat, where he meditated on the work of Goya.

I spoke with Pat today. She was sad at the passing of a man whom she adored. But she also told me of Jacks enthusiasm for a new palette of colours he had discovered, and his plans for a new exhibition, inspired by his son Gus's seaside plot. She also told me of a painting he had made in his final days -  two figures walk along a seashore. I hope Pat will let her daughter Dirga show her how to use a computer so she can share some of Jack's latest work with us.

I imagined his spirit soaring free in the beauty of creation and was inspired to write a little poem. I hope you'll excuse my clumsy rhymes and allow me to share it with you. 

Poem for Jack
Early Sunday he left
This worn mortal frame
So he could soar: weightless, timeless, free
Ecstatic in eternity's aurora once again 

A gentle man determined
(In an age of greed and cruelty vast)
To live life creative and free of harm
He painted life til the last

Even after his final show was done,
He planned another for a seaside plot
Inspired by colours he'd not mixed til now -
He could not let his brushes stop.

His latest inspiration - in the final hours -
Shows two figures on the shore (where worlds meet)
Pat says she knows not who they are
Though it was to her he showed this final treat

Friday 27 May 2011

Exhibition of work by Gustav Kaltenbrun at Grahamstown Arts Festival - Symbols in African Ritual

 You are invited ………….

to view the work by Natal artist Gustav Kaltenbrun at the Grahamstown National Arts Festival from June 30 to July 10 at the following venues:

1. Main exhibition: Oatlands School Building
2. Arena Art Exhibition: Monument Building, Yellowood Terrace

Theme: ‘Symbols in African Ritual’ with particular reference to the Initiation Ceremony of the Sesotho Shaman

Medium: 40 Acrylic paintings and symbols in silver, bronze and copper

Open: 09:00 to 17:00

Reference: EX 11-0

Examples of Gustav's paintings, silver and metalwork 
Not necessarily all in show.
Silver and metal work

Some of Gustav's paintings

Artist's Statement
An initiation ritual is a sequence of activities performed in a secret secluded place, involving performance art, poetry, words, gestures, masks, costumes, drumming, charades and song.

The organizer of this important ritual is the specialist shaman (mosuwe).

Initiation rituals are seasonal and performed at puberty to demarcate the passage from one phase to another such as from child to adulthood.

The ritual symbol has multiple meanings and takes the place of lengthy statements and literature. Every symbol is a store of information

The circle for instance is the focal symbol in Sesotho girls’ puberty ritual (see no. ) it represents a novice undergoing intiation into mature womanhood and everything that it implies. Above all it emphasizes the importance of femaleness in Sesotho society.

In men’s circumcision rituals blood is a potent symbol

The Sesotho initiation ritual is based on a series of stages. Each stage is designed to instill fear. Charades are used as performance art, with masked ‘monsters’ from the underworld as part of the act that teaches obedience to the traditional customs of the people.

Shamanic creativity can be described in short, as “new and valid synthesis of ideas not by deduction but springing by ‘tuition’ from unconscious sources”. (Walters, 1971).

In this exhibition viewers can discern art forms that are shamanic (from ‘unconscious sources’) found in the metal work, and those that can be described as portrait studies inspired by African ritual.