Veranda With Bicycle, Genadendal
Oil on canvas
Image size: 61 x 98.7cm
Framed size: 81 x 118cm
At first sight, Cape Town artist, John Kramer's paintings resemble those of the American photorealist painters of the 1970s, who also often used photographs as sources for their large, non-committal paintings. They concentrated on mundane, familiar subjects, such as cars, diners and shop windows, rendering details witn uncanny realism While Kramer is equally skilled at creating such illusions on canvas, he has a very difrerent approach to his subject matter, and his paintings are never altogether neutral.
Kramer is endlessly fascinated by the small towns of the Western Cape - its tasteless, nondescript houses, its banal shop-fronts, with their eccentric and naive signs, the seedy, corner cafes and general dealer stores from a pre-supermarket era.
'The kind of paintings I make', he adds, 'are not about architecture as such - structures that have been designed by particular people. Rather, they have to do with buildings that have grown and matured over time, that show the ravages of alteration, with all their little quirks and peculiarities, and the funny bits and pieces that get stuck on'.
'My first step is to see and compose through the eye of the camera: that can be a very satisfying process, for the photographic image has its own reality. If no one else recorded that image,it's as if it no longer exists. In a sense then, it's the photograph that becomes the real subject of the painting, and not the actual reality out there'.
'For me, this is the only approach that can convey the message I want to put across. With realism, you have to be very calculated - you can't just work from the heart or the imagination - because the weight of every element counts. For, ultimately, my aim is to create a painting that is a comment about a certain place that existed at a specific and unique moment in time'.
Excerpts from : Rose Korber: Leadership Magazine, Vol.10, August/September 1991