Tag Archives: elephants

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SOUTH AFRICAN-BORN ARTIST HERDS WILD BEASTS INTO GALLERY 1313 FOR SOLO SHOW OCT.25-NOV.5

South African born and raised, and now Toronto resident Romi Samuels’ solo show “The Lion, the Watch and the Wardrobe” runs Oct. 25 to Nov. 5 at Gallery 1313, 1313 Queen St West in Toronto with an opening reception on Thurs. Oct. 26 (6-9pm) .  Romi’s floor-to-ceiling canvases illustrate the wild beasties that surrounded her family home in South Africa, painted in bold strokes of black and white. She also brings together a collection of colourful “portraits” of items found in her wardrobe, many of which belonged to her artist mother, plus a very special family heirloom – a pocket watch.

Her work features distortions, thick paint and strong colours. Her creative inspirations include the great South African painters Irma Stern, Wolf Kibel, and Maggie Laubser who were strongly influenced by the teachings of the German expressionists. To learn more about Romi please visit her website at www.romispaintings.weebly.comThe Lion, the Watch  - JPEGI recently had the opportunity of chatting with Romi when I asked her about her early artistic influences and her childhood in South Africa which has obviously informed many of the paintings in her upcoming show.

How did you become interested in painting?   My first introduction to the art world was as a newborn.  I have been told that my mother parked my stroller under the grapevine while she set-up still life paintings and give art classes on our patio.  Growing up, there were always paintbrushes in our house, palette knives, coloured pastels, twisted tubes of paints, batik dyes, lino boards, linseed oil, art books, not to mention the sketch books which were given to me even before I knew how to write – I still have a childish pencil drawing of my family relaxing in a train compartment, which I did when I was about 7 years old.  There were also outings to art galleries and of course my mother’s beautiful paintings (see below) which covered the walls in our home, and I always hoped that one day, like her, I would be able to decorate my own house with my paintings.20170911_142217What was the first subject of your painting?  Now that I think about it I am amazed to remember that my first painting which I did in nursery school was of a crocodile with its mouth wide open (probably inspired by one of our many trips to the Kruger Park – a huge game reserve in South Africa, almost the size of a small country).  And now, some 45 years later, I have, in my current show, a painting of a crocodile in that exact pose (see below).  My first oil painting which I did much later, was a still life with various objects including an African clay pot with a traditional Ndebele motif. So Africa has always featured in some way in my paintings and even now, living in Canada it continues to work its way into my art.Croc - croppedHow did your early years in South Africa influence your work?  As a child my most exciting holidays were our family trips to the Kruger Park. I have vivid memories of waking up at the crack of dawn, hopping into the car with a delicious picnic lunch, hoping to be the first out of the camp gates onto the dust roads looking for game.  I remember how we would suddenly stop the car at the slightest hint of movement and I’ll never forget the excitement of joining a whole row of cars, straining to see what all the fuss was about, or sitting for hours at a waterhole waiting for a thirsty animal to come and drink.  And then there was the thrill of eventually spotting a lion in the distance or of being dangerously close to an elephant crossing the road. So yes, these amazing images of the African bushveld have been subjects of my paintings since childhood.Two lionesses - croppedIn a previous series of paintings, I focused on the people’s struggle for survival in post-Apartheid South Africa which I did on large canvases. These paintings are of ragged children in the veld, mothers with babies on their backs begging for money, craftsmen, construction workers and security guards slaving for a meager wage.20170911_142232On a more personal level, some of my “Wardrobe” pictures also include sentimental items which travelled with me to Canada. So even though I have been living in Canada for 17 years, my paintings still reflect the bittersweet nostalgia of the ex-pat.Gloved hands - cropped Handbarg - cropped Pocketwatch - cropped Red tie - croppedDo you have a favourite medium in which to create?  For many years oils were my favourite, but now, I have also begun to enjoy acrylics mainly because they dry so quickly!  I’ve also started working with collage and mixed media which add a lot of interesting texture to my work.  For quick drawings, ink is one of my favourite mediums – I especially like the combination of a gentle washes and hard lines.20170911_142416What do you hope gallery visitors leave with after attending your upcoming show.   Firstly, because my paintings are so large and imposing, I hope to share that experience of being in such close proximity to the magnificent African fauna. Also, because my paintings are more expressive than literal, I want to communicate their intense emotion to which we as human beings can relate. I also hope that gallery visitors will see that even my “Wardrobe” paintings are not just still-lives, but rather expressions of the personalities behind them.  So basically, my intention is that that people will come away identifying on an emotional level with my paintings or responding to them emotionally or even just realizing that as human beings everything we see or create is influenced by our own emotional responses.20170911_144923What is next for Romi?  I never know in advance what I am going to paint. I usually start off playing around with something which develops into an idea and then becomes a body of work.  So my next series will be as much of a surprise to me as it will be to you. [laughs]

Opening reception takes place on Thursday Oct. 26th (6-9pm) at Gallery 1313, 1313 Queen St West, Toronto. For gallery hours & directions: www.g1313.org   Light (kosher) refreshments will be served so if you would like to attend and meet Romi, kindly RSVP to FordhamPR@rogers.com  Space is limited so email me a.s.a.p.

Although it’s not in this show, here is one of my fave Romi paintings – I just love chickens and Romi painted some of the hens that used to run around her childhood nanny’s property back home in S.A.20170911_141930

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STROLL WITH ME THRU THIS WEEKEND’S RIVERDALE ART WALK

What a beautiful sunny afternoon in Toronto…perfect for strolling the aisles of this year’s Riverdale Art Walk, visiting artist friends (like the fabulous Kelly Grace, above) and meeting new talented painters and sculptors. You still have another day to visit yourself – on Queen St East in Jimmie Simpson Park (details at bottom of this blog). Joining me on my artful trek was Erena, my BFF who is also an art collector who appreciates discovering new talent. I introduced her first to Sheila Thompson (below), a fibre artist whom I first met at the Artists’ Project a couple of months ago.

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Next, I was inspired by the beautiful, photographic quality of Marsha Strycharz‘s still-life paintings (below)

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I really liked the contrast in style exhibited by fine art photographer Felicity Somerset (below) who offered framed prints of industrial rust and weathering close-ups, as well as the delicate hummingbirds and flowers featured in her packages of notecards.

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Mark Glebersen is one of my Toronto art heroes – his MJG Gallery is fast becoming the go-to gallery in Leslieville and here he is (below) representin’ with some colourful, joyful pieces….

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As I watched visitors entering photographer Lorie Slater‘s tent, each and every one of them smiled, pointed to familiar scenes and spent a lot of time guessing locations of the subjects she paints. Behind Lorie (below) is a graffiti of Felix the Cat located in an alley near her home…she told me she took the photo only a day or two before someone painted over it so she was pleased she captured the scene before it was too late.

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Loved the crows featured prominently in Katherine Palmer‘s paintings (below). You could almost hear the caw-caw!

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I first met painter Karola Steinbrecher up at Schomberg a couple of years ago and fell madly in love with her chicken pictures (below). I find something very comforting and cheerful in her work which makes me feel a little guilty about eating KFC! That giant rooster on red background (below) is going to be MINE!

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Rob Croxford!!! Who doesn’t love this guy’s work? Great sense of fun, intellectually stimulating, conversation starters, locally themed…and affordable. Bravo, Rob, another great show for you.

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Another fave of mine is Ian Busher (below) – in fact, I have one of his pieces hanging in my place right now. I thought Erena would enjoy meeting him and seeing how he works in the different mediums.

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I love discovering new artists I’ve never seen before…like Roberto Centazzo (below) who works in marble mosaics. Stunning to view in person, sorry my pics don’t do them justice. His elephant mosaic is made completely from stones found down at the Leslieville lakeshore…wow!

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Sculptor Jeremy Guy (below) exhibited some of his more manageable pieces at Art Walk – I hear he has a sculpture garden with huge, over-sized pieces. Jeremy’s work is very tactile and you are encouraged to actually touch the artwork here.

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Walking into Jessica Masters‘ booth (below) was a very calming experience. Her soft pastels beckoned me in…I felt as though I could escape right into her pictures, onto the sands of Maine and chase the seagulls. A lovely talented lady with charming stories for each of her pictures.

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The uber fabulous Kelly Grace (below) was well-represented with her tiny perfect portraits as well as some new works (bottom pic). She was trying out a new hair ‘do which made me jealous…I so need a cut’n’colour!

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Atten…shun!  Brian Harvey strikes a pose between two of his Toronto streetscapes (below). Brian and Stewart Jones (who didn’t participate at this show) are two of my fave Toronto streetscape painters – each offers up pieces with great personality & atmosphere, and a colour palette that matches perfectly their real-life locations. Brian told me the diner was actually a New York City view, but the green-toned alleyway was a view not far from his home.

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Lois Shaw posed alongside one of her large format paintings of giant chili peppers…what a fabulous foodie picture! Can’t you just see this painting hanging in some classy Italian eatery? Lois has actually been commissioned to paint something just like that for a client’s new kitchen and needless to say, it was a big hit.

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Dog-lover Zoey Zoric (below) offered some striking poochie portraits that attracted a lot of 4-legged as well as 2-legged fans. I got to meet a lovely collie who came in for a drink of water and a cool-down with Zoey who was also promoting Happy Tails Rescue organization – they rescue, foster and adopt out small furry friends. If you’re looking for a new pal, drop in to her booth on Sunday and pick up some information or visit their website: www.happytailsrescue.ca

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The last booth I visited was that of Kari Serrao. Love love looooove her farmyard animals with their soulful eyes staring back at me. Another booth that made me think twice about my steak and eggs, bacon, lamb chops…. so Erena and I went for sushi after visiting show…thanks, Kari!

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Tomorrow looks like a nice, sunny day but go early as there is some rain coming in towards the end of Sunday. Check out the official website for details: http://www.artistsnetwork.ca/see-art-buy-art/riverdale-art-walk

Thank you for supporting Canadian artists!