Frank van Reenen at Worldart Cape Town
“Icing sugar mixed with cyanide,” is how Frank Van Reenen refers to his work.
It comes as no surprise that this versatile artist, whose latest works will be on view at the Worldart Gallery in Church Street, Cape Town from 10 to 22 September, also happens to be an acclaimed animation artist. His art reflects his affinity for toys and an unashamed surrender to the colourful palette of our everyday existence. Apart from his obvious penchant for humour, his work is rooted in an appreciation for the absurd; and he is not oblivious of the darker side of life. But blessed with a sympathetic eye, and preferring subdued tints to primary colours, this dedicated craftsman manages to translate the flights of a quirky animation mind into pleasing sculptures, paintings and prints.
There is ample reason for looking forward to Van Reenen’s forthcoming exhibition. Here we have a multi-talented artist who, since his student days at the Stellenbosch University arts faculty (rubbing shoulders with Conrad Bittercomix-Botes), has been making it to the top. In 2006 he earned himself a well-deserved sojourn at the Cité des Arts in Paris, where his dog-watching inevitably led to the delightful series titled “Dog’s life”. Like his artworks, his awards and exhibitions are reminiscent of his animation stories – exciting, eventful and entertaining. A true prankster at heart, Van Reenen is nevertheless a serious artist and au fait with all aspects of the contemporary art scene. In his typical idiosyncratic style he conjures up images, forms and compositions to evoke smiles and giggles; even frowns of pleasant disbelief – and most probably all at the same time!
Van Reenen is fond of computer-generated images; for him a natural way of linking his ideas to the world of comic strips, animation and neo-pop. Fancy this coming from an admirer of August Rodin! Van Reenen appears to be in dialogue with other work produced by the young and vibrant global community. It has a decorative slant, sporting an ironic though friendly “bite” with instant appeal. From sophisticated art lovers to those who don’t see themselves as experts, but simply claim to “know what they like”, fall under its spell. This is the kind of art to keep track of.