Anthony de Klerk’s latest exhibition was inspired by South African icons such as Chris Hani, Nelson Mandela and Steve Biko, as well as everyday people who are hoping for a better future.
His exhibition, Dreamers, Heroes and Monochrome Dreams, opened recently at the Luni Art Gallery in Salt River and will run until Tuesday July 31.
Anthony, from Hout Bay, said his journey as a fine artist had been defined by a stop, a start, a twist and, recently, a turn.
As a young adult, he was inspired to become an artist while studying graphic design at Wits. His influences were lecturers – up-and-coming young artists of the day like Willem Boshoff, who taught him to think conceptually, Mark Enslin, who awakened his love for painting, and Ryno Swart, who showed him the seduction of life drawing.
This was followed by a “hiatus” of sorts.
“Although I never gave up painting, my energy was, for the next 30 years, mostly consumed by a demanding advertising career. Despite it being a successful and award-winning career during which I produced much loved and well-known work for famous brands, I still felt unfulfilled creatively and constantly yearned to return to my original passion – to be a painter,” he said.
“The ‘start’ of my artistic career therefore overlapped with the end of my advertising one. I began to commit more energy and intent to being a painter. I picked up brushes again, slowly but surely becoming more impassioned and prolific.”
Anthony said his search found real answers in 2017, during a visit to Greece.
“It was on the flight home, however, that I had the strong sense that my life was about to change. When I arrived back in Cape Town, I started to see, in my mind’s eye, very strong images of dreamlike portraits and figures, in a style that came to me as if by divine intervention.”
During the opening night, Anthony, spoke about the paintings and where he drew his inspiration from. He said his “show piece” was inspired by one of his students who came to his art-for-beginners class at his Bright Studio in Salt River.
“His look and outlook on life inspired me to do a series of paintings on him in this style that I have developed over this past year. And this continued to happen over the course of the year,” he said.
“I began to meet new people who moved me from all over Africa, and I felt compelled to tell their stories. They don’t have much by way of worldly possessions, but they have much spirit, inspiring dreams, an abundance of optimism and an inspiring outlook on life.”
Another such inspiration was Sibusiso Ngwazi — who attended the opening. Anthony said he had been the subject of a few of his paintings and was a top seller — with paintings sold in Germany and the UK.
Anthony said he was on a mission to showcase young African people with a positive outlook on life, in a positive light.
The Luni Art Gallery is open from Monday to Friday from 10am to 6pm.