We doodle, we fiddle and we play. Here are some stuff from our sketchbooks...

Thursday, 24 June 2010 15:55

News Illustrations

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A small selection of weekly newspaper illustrations done since 1992. (Gallery below ...)

Says Vivian van der Merwe: "The work of Francois is distinguished by a rare marriage of innovative technique, potent yet subtle imagery, and a highly sophisticated sense of visual form.

Like the best traditional visual artists (especially painters and printmakers), Francois uses his digital medium and tools with impressive mastery. Unlike popular work by most of the younger generation of digital artists and illustrators, you never sense or see the medium. The medium, or visualisation process, never intrudes or "shows off". It never postures. Perhaps it is the fact that Francois has literally grown up with the various evolutions of graphics software and hardware that allows him to work almost unconsciously with his medium. Where imagery does pixel-ate, or textures do become digitized, or you do glimpse evidence of digital aesthetics, you always sense that these references to the medium are not accidental or unwanted. Many years ago, when Francois worked with oil paint, these same qualities of objectification of the medium and process were distinguishing features of his art too. This has become a hallmark of Francois' work."

"Whereas a studio painter would classically use a paintbrush, palette, canvas and approximately 20 oil colours, Francois works with Photoshop, Freehand, Illustrator, Painter, Bryce, Maya, Poser and Stratavision in conjunction with hand drawn images, digital photography, scans and 3-dimensional modeling. These have become the tools of Francois' studio.

One of the most remarkable, and "invisible" aspects of this exhibition is the process that has yielded these compelling and often magical images: the fact that virtually all of these artworks were executed in an almost impossibly short time (between 2 and 5 hours, from initial conception to final print-ready completion!) tells a story that most artists and illustrators would find difficult, if not impossible, to believe! It is this rare combination of technical virtuosity, an unstoppable imagination, and relentless creativity that makes Francois' art especially unique. Most artists and illustrators would find working within such constraints, week by week, for ten years, completely untenable, and yet Francois has developed a distinctive visual idiom that resonates with technical depth and artistic insight.

Francois' imagery and artistic style has not really changed dramatically since the "earliest days". His art has simply evolved to become increasingly sophisticated and much more complex. This refinement, or distillation, is something that can only come with experience and time, and something that is underpinned by a vision that is conceptually complex, often satirically humorous, sometimes forbiddingly dark, and always visually compelling. As has often been stated about Francois the artist, he treads the tightrope between contemporary narratives and a kind of universal iconography, combined in images of great pathos and beauty, in a way that few other artists and illustrators are capable of doing with such consistency."

- Vivian van der Merwe

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