Luxury Artist – Grant Preston, shares his story with us.
May 15, 2017
South African Abstract Artist & Sculptor
April 2017 – A visit to Grant Preston’s home just outside of Hermanus is like entering a gallery specifically designed to house his art. “I really don’t know what genre to call my work. I think I more clearly identify myself with the ‘Art-Informel’ movement discovered by French writer Michel Topie. He organised an exhibition in 1952, which featured the work of Karel Appel, Jean Dubuffet and Willem de Kooning amongst others and called it Un Art Autre (Art of another kind.) Topie noticed that these artists showed a radical break from traditional notions of order and composition. Art Informel tends towards the gestural and expressive movements related to abstract expressionism and was often also referred to as Gesture Art, Tachisme or Action Painting,” shares Grant.
Grant has been involved in the art world for the past 35 years and has had several solo and numerous joint exhibitions here in South Africa and abroad. He started out as a ceramicist in Johannesburg before attending figure drawings lessons in 1982. After crafting his style of drawing he went on to a figurative period of work in oils. Grant nurtured his love of sculpting during this time and produced many abstract figurative works in wood. It was during this period that he also managed to acquire some large pieces of semiprecious stone from Namibia that he painstakingly transformed into a collection of female body forms.
He continued to develop his style after moving to Cape Town in 1990 where he added bronze to his sculptural mediums. Working in the ‘wax lost’ process Grant produced a range of faces and figures reminiscent of his original ceramic pieces. “I needed to work in a more permanent medium – something that didn’t break when you dropped it. It was also a pleasure to work in lovely malleable warm wax instead of cold wet clay in the middle of winter. It also meant that I wasn’t limited to the size of a kiln,” he explains.
Living in Hout Bay meant a constant source of wood was readily available so Grant was able to produce much larger wooden sculptures. He continued painting during this period and was constantly trying to ‘abstractualise’ his visions. “I love the absolute freedom of abstract art; the art of manipulating colour into a desired effect. Abstract art, like some foods, is an acquired taste. My objective in painting an abstract composition is to create areas of visual interest that intrigue the mind in a different way every time they are seen. Sometimes an optical illusion, sometimes a familiar shape; other times a colour. It’s an incredibly difficult concept to comprehend. Your brain keeps reminding you of what it’s seen. To go beyond what is in your mind’s eye is the first step towards abstract art,” he says.
Grant relocated to Vermont, an area just outside of Hermanus, two years ago with his life partner, Marie. He is currently thriving on the inspiration he has found living at the coast that is reflected in his style across each medium. His recent works include a collection of sculptures made out of Milkwood sourced locally in Hermanus and a series of paintings The Silver Ring, Mother of Pearl and Big Splash.
Grant is sponsored by local paint manufacturer Zellen Paints and has a series of lectures on youtube to help explain the process of his approach to this particular style of abstract painting.
A complete collection of his work can be found online at southafricanartists.com or visit his studio by contacting his agent at 083 650 5591 for a private viewing.
By Melissa Verhave