Initially, when you paint there is a perceived division between what you paint and who you are. The more you enter into the process the more you realise that we are the canvas and, as such, are both the creator and the creation.
We start realising that creation is not simply what we hang on the wall, or what we do when we have a paint brush in our hands, rather that we are the art work – we are the potential masterpiece and whatever we do in and with our lives, holds the enormity of our creative potential. What you paint then, is the microsim of your internal macrosim.
In the work we are currently doing, we are using the effects of rust and weathering on metal – It’s a pleasant relief from controlling the process and a form of surrender to reach a certain stage and then hand over the process to nature and divine intervention. Working with the elements is an integral part of the painting. It’s an alchemical process utilising the elements – earth (iron), fire (acid), water (creates the condition for the rust to occur), together with air. This turns the base metal into the rich lustre of ochre, yellows and oranges, (not quite gold!)
The outcome is often a surprise, as you cannot really predict what will happen, so no two paintings can ever produce the same results.
The metal paintings came about through trying to create a metallic feel on canvas. Later we moved to actual metal. Its rust properties gave it an organic and unique appearance. At first it seemed hard, strange and non-absorbent compared to canvas. As we experimented, we saw the different effects one could obtain, particularly when the unpredictability of rusting areas is involved. Many, many sheets of metal later, we came to understand this new media and to enjoy its special properties.
Anthony has taken sections of road maps of areas in South Africa as a basis for his current work with names such as Tembisa ext. 5 or Ezikhaleni. It interesting to see that the areas of maps in the townships produce far more organic, lively and less inhibited works, while the roads in the cities are not nearly as vibrant, being formal and more rigid in structure – a mirror of the people who created them. These areas traditionally have housing made of galvanised steel. The method of working with rust on iron carries with it the visual literacy of the surrounding countryside: – as if one was viewing the scene from an aerial perspective. Each road “map” is a metaphor for the question “where are we going what road should we take?”
I have taken inspiration from nature and transformed objects into simple shapes in colours that sometimes co-ordinate and occasionally contrast. Observing nature constantly means that previously insignificant shapes and things have potential. It is also mirrors the meeting of urbanisation and the natural environment.
The rusting mirrors the rich earthy colours in Africa. By combining the natural rust properties with different metallic effects and emulsions, as well as incorporating raw materials such as sand into the paintings, the paintings reflect the contrast between industrial and natural organic properties of the world, as well as being a space for the balancing of the four elements.
As well as working with metal, I have not rejected my love of bright colour and still paint various themes of landscapes, fish etc the vibrant colours.