Captured Moments: John Kramer's preserved memories - Times LIVE
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Captured Moments: John Kramer's preserved memories

Melvyn Minnaar | 2014-09-09 00:01:10.0
ON THE RECORD: John Kramer

At the back of the studio, which is cluttered from floor to ceiling, there is a row of old-fashioned, metal drawer filing cabinets.

John Kramer opens one and exposes photographic slides, carefully mounted and referenced.

The pictures are mostly of old country buildings. These are the source material for his art.

His fans will have the first opportunity since 1988 to view a full-on public exhibition of his art.

John Kramer - New Works, recently opened at the Irma Stern Museum in Cape Town, took two years to prepare.

John, the brother of musician David Kramer, is a slight, quiet man, and it is easy to draw a connection between his meticulous scenic paintings of buildings of yesteryear, the scrupulous archive material and his many years working at the South African Museum.

It is easy to describe his oil on linen canvases as "behind-the-scenes" paintings, for these images of shops and trading posts in farflung country towns are, in many instances, records of what has now been replaced, demolished or radically changed.

It would be simplistic to say Kramer's renditions are nostalgic .

A closer look reveals a starkness of vision, a condensation of the specific scene, far removed from what even a good photograph would document.

In fact, Kramer explains that he often works from a number of photographs, taken by himself on field trips, and sometime many years afterwards.

"If no one else records the building at that precise time, that moment is unique. The photograph preserves the memory and becomes the subject of the painting.

"I try to comment on a kind of building that expresses something of the people who built, lived and worked in it, but who themselves are not necessarily conscious of the image it conveys."

Kramer's photorealistic style has loosened somewhat since his early days. Nevertheless there is a remarkable presence to the imagery that he so conscientiously constructs.

  • 'John Kramer - New Work' is on at the Irma Stern Museum in Rosebank, Cape Town until September 27. Call 021-685 -686. There is an artist walkabout on September 13 at 11am


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