Two very creative Simon’s Town residents teamed up to create a new experience for the public during the recent Simon’s Town Festival when Dr Steven van der Merwe spoke about his composing of his Requiem while artist Ryno Swart depicted the subject of the Requiem in oils. See http://scenicsouth.co.za//2011/09/dr-steven-van-der-merwes-eleven-a-requiem-for-a-parent/
Having missed the creative session, the exquisite weather and beckoning ocean keeping on my kayak instead, I cannot tell you about it but I can tell you a little about the artists involved. To get some insight into Steven see http://scenicsouth.co.za//2011/10/steven-van-der-merwe-of-simon%e2%80%99s-town-a-man-of-medicine-and-music/
And then, Ryno. Born in Springbok and raised in Bethlehem in the Free State, with a stint in Johannesburg and in Zimbabwe and some years in Paris before settling in Cape Town, Ryno has experienced a wide variety of landscapes and cultures, reflected in the diverse themes and moods of his paintings.
Art classes were not offered at the school he attended, but Ryno’s talent was recognised by his teachers who marked his doodle filled exam scripts! He studied a course which focused mainly on graphic design at Stellenbosch University in 1965, but in fine art he is self-taught. One of his first jobs was scripting and illustrating TV commercials in Harare in training for the introduction of TV into South Africa.
A year in Paris, a city he loves, where he frequented the art galleries and sketched in the streets, was a year well-spent. Visits to Greece, Holland, England and Venice inspired his art. He is particularly fascinated by architecture and the pervading sense of culture in Europe. In 1976, an era of turmoil and paranoia in our country, he returned to South Africa and spent much time sketching and painting at PACT Ballet.
Ryno moved to Observatory in Cape Town in 1984 where he exhibited some of his paintings at Gallery 709. Sadly, a fire in 1993 destroyed the gallery, along with12 of his paintings.
In 1994 he moved to Simon’s Town where he has had a studio ever since. His wife Anne is an artist in her own right, although her work as graphic designer allows her no time for painting these days. It is Anne who created the Scenic South’s beautiful logo!
In reply to my question about the effect of living in Simon’s Town on his creativity, Ryno said that every place has a huge effect. Simon’s Town is atmospheric and his house overlooks the moody waters of False Bay. He loves to capture the beautiful misty days and the moon- and sunrises seen so clearly from his home.
Ryno’s other love is teaching. He particularly loves teaching art to adults as they are usually self-motivated and keen to learn. Asked what advice he would give an aspiring artist, his reply was: “Paint exactly what you see – and then learn to see!” He says that one of the things we have to learn is that we see in confusion. When we see a beautiful tree we don’t see it in detail. “We need to capture it in its mass. Turner when he was very young painted every leaf and brick. It was only when he was older that he painted atmospheric paintings. We see atmosphere, mist, unclarity.”
Referring to his collaboration with Steven van der Merwe, he says: “Colour used to mean simply red, yellow, blue and green. In music it means something completely different. As an artist can we bring the same musical meanings of words like ‘colour’, ‘texture’ and ‘line’ to painting? Painting is a matter of getting in to a mood state. The mood state of the painting of Steven’s Requiem is reserved. It has depth to it and is emotionally rewarding.”
Ryno’s painting, “Requiem”, will be offered for sale at the premiere of Steven’s composition. See http://scenicsouth.co.za//2011/09/dr-steven-van-der-merwes-eleven-a-requiem-for-a-parent/
Visit Ryno’s website to view more of his works: http://www.artistvision.org