New Artist Spotlight: René George

Where I First Found You

We love our road trips, along unexpected roads – we truly believe that South Africa’s real charm is to be found in the small towns. They beg you to let your guard down, appreciate the simple things in life, breathe deeper, and take it slower. There are so many interesting characters with intriguing stories residing in these not-so-sleepy little towns.

Last year we took a detour through Kaapsehoop – where the wild horses roam the rocky grasslands. There is a magic in this town that we could not resist – from the picturesque setting to the quaint little timber houses that line the unpaved lanes. Everyone greets you as you pass them on the streets, and visit a little shop and you will have the owner inviting you to join them for a cup of coffee in their home. It is here that I first met René George – he describes himself as the ultimate introvert so doesn’t give much of his story away. What I did get from him though is that he’d done his time in the demanding corporate world, working a crazy 70 hours a week for a Dubai-based architecture firm. He had always loved design but found that the crazy deadlines had killed his passion for it and everything just needed to be done as fast as possible, for as little as possible. A retrenchment a few years back actually provided the opportunity he had long been seeking. He knew he didn’t want to continue with the crazy career, consuming all his time, energy, joy and creativity. He spent almost a year road tripping through the country, spending as much time as possible in the small hamlets of SA. This is how he came to Kaapsehoop and how he decided to pick up the brushes and palette knife for the first time in years.

Upon that first invitation into his studio – on the first floor of his home, with wooden floors, wooden walls, overlooking a canopy of trees – he had no art that he was willing to part with. I had told him that the Henry George Gallery was all about telling the story – the story of our artists and the stories behind their work. And he said that was precisely his reticence – he didn’t know yet what story he wanted, or rather, needed, to tell.

In December René asked if he could send me three paintings. His work is now being inspired by the music he listens to – the songs which tell beautiful, poignant stories that help him tell his own.

We have the pleasure of presenting to you “Where I First Found You” – inspired by the song of the same name written and performed by Forest Blakk. It is a song that pulls at our heartstrings with a moving portrayal of connection, experience, and memory everlasting. We all know time takes its toll, a reminder that nothing and no one lasts forever; that our loved ones will be taken from us too soon, and so we need to cherish what we have with one another because that bond and connection transcends the earthly realm. Take a listen to the song here: https://youtu.be/PGeaIdwJYYU

René didn’t tell me exactly who in his life this particular painting is about. All he said was that the little bench you see beneath the tree is the place he first found someone. But, the very intriguing thing, is that the artist has attached a sealed envelope to the back of the painting. In it is a letter that tells his story behind the painting. And as per his instructions, it is to be opened only by the buyer of the painting – if they wish to know. He says “if” because he is happy for someone to attach only their story to his painting, make it their moment and their place. Interestingly, René has only just got on to social media and after posting this painting on his Instagram and crediting the inspiration to Forest Blakk he got a comment from the singer/songwriter himself saying “I love this so much.”

The two smaller paintings have already been snapped up. But “Where I first Found You” is still available (with the sealed letter attached) – it is oil on canvas, 76 x 61cm and priced at R6,950 excluding framing. Please contact The Henry George Gallery if you are interested:

email: darryl@henrygeorge.co.za

phone: 011 880 2698 or 082 327 1158

We are very excited to see what song inspires René next!

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