townie the art dealer

Beauty is in the eye of beholder, the saying goes.
Issue date: 28 September 2007

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Beauty is in the eye of beholder, the saying goes. I suppose it depends what you’re looking at. A scantily-clad nymph on the beach would appeal to most hot-blooded males. Her bronzed Adonis companion would get a raised eyebrow from the fairer sex – and possibly a few hot-blooded males as well!
A sunset sky evokes wonder in those of an aesthetic disposition. Icicles on a wire fence do it for others.

Nature shows us beauty wherever we look. Man-made art, however, mostly fails to emulate nature. Sure, there are exceptions. But then there’s the genre of modern art where anything goes and true creative talent is questionable. In the cities, galleries decide who’s in and who’s not. If you’re in buyers will fight to possess your work, no matter the price tag. In the platteland, however, art is not a high priority.

“Why doesn’t your wife hold an exhibition of her bronze sculptures and paintings?” neighbour Jan suggested over morning coffee on my stoep. “With her gallery-acquired reputation and judging from her work I’ve seen, it would surely be a sell-out.” “You try and persuade her, Jan, I’ve had no luck.”
Well, he did!

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On a Saturday, with braai and booze included, they came in their droves. Probably for the braai! After a cursory glance at the work on display, the men, true to form, assembled around the bar and braai. I eavesdropped on their conversations. “I could buy a pedigree bull for the price her sculptures go for,” said one. “And a pedigree ram for one of her paintings,” said another. Their wives were taken with her pastel portraits of children, saying they’d try to persuade their husbands to commission one.

“Any sales yet Townie?” Jan asked. “Only one. There’s a ‘sold’ sticker on her latest bronze, the elephant mother and baby, but I don’t know who bought it – and it’s the most expensive and admired piece on the exhibition!” Speculation about the buyer was still going the rounds when the crowd left. Jan and Hettie joined us for a drink. Jan handed Wifey Dear a cheque. “For the elephants,” he said. “These Philistines around here don’t recognise talent when it bites them in the butt!

Your wife’s next exhibition we’ll do it by auction, Townie. Farmers don’t understand city art sales, but they can’t bear being outbid in front of their neighbours!” “Who’ll be the auctioneer?” I asked. “Me!” said Jan, “My commission will more than cover what I paid for the elephant bronze!” – Derek Christopher |fw