Feminine Contemporary Art in the Heart of Cape Town
Based in the heart of Cape Town’s trendy De Waterkant, No 5 on Hudson is an elegant art gallery owned by former Country Living SA owner and former Miss SA, Sandy De Bruin. Sandy has always had a penchant for Fine Art, seeing her fervor for painting revived while living in London. Sandy spent her days artistically inclined, writing and painting. It was during this time that No 5 on Hudson was born. Sandy’s extensive education in the Arts started with watercolors and oil painting but is always looking to expand her training.
Sandy is drawn to contemporary abstract work, often leaning towards monochromatic pieces. As a result, No 5 on Hudson is filled with art portraying themes like Women and Art and Shade of Grey, using her platform towards the empowerment and upliftment of female Artists in South Africa. When speaking of how she has selected the gallery’s featured Artists, Sandy explains, “I have curated work from Artists whose work I have loved and admired.” Currently displayed at No 5 on Hudson are the contemporary works of Sandy De Bruin, Danielle Alexander, Fiona Rowett, Lesley Charnock, Nicole Pletts, Ronel Bakker and Anya Ramparsad.
Danielle Alexander is not only the Gallery Manager and Assistant Curator at No 5 on Hudson but she is also the youngest artist exhibited in the studio. Alexander draws inspiration from art historical references, specifically Neoclassism and Baroque imagery as well as everyday mundane objects, subject matter and materiality often putting those elements in conversation with one another. Her collection currently on display was inspired by Robert Rauschenberg’s White Paintings, 1961 and how mood and form could change depending on how light and shadow fell with a focus on monochrome painting and how she could communicate through a focus on texture rather than colour, reducing a painting to its basic elements to expose its raw essence. It is focussed even in its abstraction creating a moment of reflection, a pause. Drawing on images of imagined landscapes it looks at ideas of memory being ingrained or attached to place but also acts as a way of trying to map out internal thoughts and notions of positionality.
Fiona Rowett is a seasoned, mixed media artist with close to 30 solo exhibitions nationally and numerous group exhibitions internationally. A selected number of pieces showcased by Rowett at No 5 on Hudson is inspired by the primary importance of family and home denoting the symbol of a bowl or pot. Her more abstract pieces express a connection with the soul.
Rowett notes of local art, “Historically, art from the African continent, with its strong emphasis on design and abstraction, has fascinated international collectors.”
Lesley Charnock’s collection represented at No 5 on Hudson celebrates the serenity and beauty of Women in South Africa, with a focus on capturing not only the likeness of the model but, as far as possible, their mood and demeanour. In creating the collection, Charnock wanted the portraits to be contemporary in feel and yet be a contract to the more abstract works of the other artists featured in the gallery. Charnock elaborates, “The natural progression of the work following these paintings is to render these beautiful faces in a more abstract form with the colours more surprising.”
Another collection that can be seen at No 5 on Hudson is the ‘It’s Personal’ series by Nicole Pletts. Her work represents stolen moments of an ordinary life and its simple pleasure. Pletts noticed that the millennial generation were reared in the notion that they could be anything and anyone they wanted to be: famous, rich, high achieving, function, happy adults. The joys and values of an ‘ordinary life’ were neglected. A life of love, integrity, family, friendship and loyalty. Through her paintings, Pletts portrays the value in the average, in the normal and in the ordinary. When speaking of art in Cape Town, Pletts acknowledges, “Cape Town is leading the pack and setting an awesome example. The annual Cape Town Art Fair is always of an international standard, the many galleries, both commercial and contemporary are in abundance. First Thursdays all over Cape Town are always well attended and enjoyed. If the rest of South Africa could learn from Cape Town, South Africa could indeed be a player in the international art world.”
Ronel Bakker embraces beauty by honouring clay as her chosen medium, opting to interfere with the natural growth of the items she is building by steering away from from harsh lines, instead finishing her work with soft edges. Ronel is a proud feminist and strives to always celebrate women, curating a strong representation of woman in her work. Bakker considers South Africa, Cape Town specifically, to be cutting edge in its design and innovation. “We have waited and created for many years and are
now riper and readier than ever to express our extremely diverse backgrounds. With two brand new world class museums in Cape Town, A couple of annual Design shows and 100’s of galleries to choose from, we are surely right up there with the best when it comes to art and design.”
Born in Ladysmith, Kwa-Zulu Natal, Anya Ramparsad moved to Cape Town to attend the University of Cape Town’s Michaelis school of Fine Art where she obtained her honours degree majoring in printmaking and photography. Her work is best recognized by the blending of artistic practice and scientific practice around the themes of knowledge and knowledge production. “Having experienced a system where my needs as an artist were not catered for, I felt the gap that existed in my learning due to never having an art education before university,” Anya remarks. She interrogates the education system by combining disciplines and decentring intellectual barriers using process based practice to create innovative mark making techniques. Science here is used as a tool to make art and explores the themes of alternative ways of learning.