Johannesburg, South Africa – Reported by Elite Traveler, the Private Jet Lifestyle Magazine
More than 200 original artworks were sourced from 11 South African artists for the interior design of the 29 new suites in the three new villas at the Saxon Boutique Hotel, Villas and Spa. With a mix of established artists and up-and-coming names, the collection represents a spectrum of artistic visions, styles and techniques.
Ian E. Coester, art consultant with MasterArt, and PJ de Kock, interior designer with Blacksmith Interiors, assembled a collection that was not only visually stimulating and entertaining, but also enhanced the interior design space. The Saxon wanted to educate guests about South Africa by exposing them, through contemporary art, to a new way of looking at the country and its landscapes, colors, cultures, history and future. Additionally, collecting and displaying work from African artists served as a means of economic development for the community.
Coester and Kock were given a list of criteria for the artwork. The art had to fulfill a decorative function and adequately reflect the understated elegance and sophistication of the Saxon while also representing a connection to Africa. The pair selected 11 artists and reviewed hundreds of works. Many of the works selected were not readily available on the commercial gallery circuit.
When the artists didn’t have suitable artwork available, the Saxon commissioned artwork, including pieces by Sandile Zulu who produced a series titled ‘Milky Way Galaxy’ in his characteristic burnt and singed canvas technique. Not only famous in South Africa, Zulu was recently invited to participate in an art project at the Smithsonian Institute’s National Museum of African Art.
The Saxon also commissioned work by Beverly Watson who produced 27 multicolor monotypes symbolizing environmental concerns and the vulnerability of nature in Africa.
Other notable pieces in the collection include two large etchings by Dirk Meerkotter who is a highly awarded pioneer of abstract art in South Africa. The etchings depict a row of stylized figures that represent voters standing in line for South Africa’s first free elections in 1994. These etchings are of great value to the Saxon because of the hotel’s relationship with Nelson Mandela.
Up-and-coming artist Errol Westoll was represented in the collection with a number of limited edition photos printed in archival inks on Hahnemuhle paper. Westoll’s highly unusual and evocative photographs of pebbles on the beach and grasses growing on dunes are skillfully crafted in terms of composition, color and tone to produce intriguing abstract artworks.
Of the 11 selected artists, internationally renowned Hannes Harrs passed away in 2006. Because there were no new works available, his daughter Sue Winchester assisted the team in locating 23 pieces including Harrs’ well-known Kuba cloth collages. Harrs was a member of the Amadhlozi Group, which also included Cecil Skotness and Sydney Khumalo, whose purpose in the 1960s was to identify a distinctive African style of abstract art.