Project Description

REBIRTH

Aquarelle on paper
450 x 400mm (inner)
850 x 805mm (outer)
1994

As part of a solo exhibition titled ‘Drawing Attention to Transformation and Regeneration’, which she held at the Pretoria Art Museum in 1994, Michaletos conceived and executed a symbolical portrait of Nelson Mandela, titled ‘Rebirth’.

In the same year, ‘Rebirth’ earned the ‘United Nations Art and Philatelic Award’, which she received in October 1994, at the U.N. Headquarters in New York, USA.

The detailed thought processes behind the artwork as well as that of the two additional portraits, are as follows. (All three portraits were exhibited at the U.N. Headquarters in 1994.)

She found herself increasingly fascinated by the ‘conflict’ and paradox, surrounding Mandela. This political giant had spent 27 years, (during the prime of his life), jailed as a terrorist. Yet, the same man, earned the respect and admiration of the world …… he received the Nobel Prize for Peace!

In the painting, ‘Rebirth’, this mental ‘conflict’ is symbolically represented as follows:

7 Yellow ‘Doves of Peace’ fly from left to right and a ‘Black Hawk’, swoops from right to left. Mandela’s head (the features highlighted in green,) acts as ‘arena’ for the ‘conflict’. At last, here is a MAN in whom the opposing forces are reconciled! These images are superimposed, one upon the other. If it were not for the three colours that differentiate the separate images, green, black and yellow (the colours attributed to the ANC), the artwork would simply be an unintelligible jumble of lines.

On closer inspection one notes that this image of Mandela subtly suggests the outline of Southern Africa and the wings of the doves and hawk that crown his portrait could well be ‘laurel leaves’. The talons and beak of the hawk are just outside of the main portrait and suggest that ‘force and violence’ no longer plays a part in his life and only dynamic power and strength of character remain.

Her daily search for and collection of positive words for ‘Precious Circle’, installed a habit in her that became a ‘blue-print’ for the way she conducted her life. She named it her ‘catch-of- the-day’.

Part of her daily ‘catch’ was the ‘word-of-the-day’ which Wikipidea delivered into her Inbox every day.

On the 16th May 2009, the word was ‘GREEN-MAN’, which describes ‘a sculpture, drawing or other representation of a face surrounded by or made from leaves.

Primarily ‘GREEN-MAN’ is interpreted as a symbol of ‘REBIRTH’ or Renaissance, representing the cycle of growth being reborn anew each Spring Remarkably, she was not aware of this concept until she recently read about it! Uncannily her portrait of Mandela is predominantly ‘green’, the ‘feathers’ can be mistaken for foliage and most remarkable of all, it is titled ‘REBIRTH’!

Through these unexpected revelations she also becomes a student of her own work.

A comment made by a pastor from Soweto, moved her deeply. He was curious as to exactly how she had known that the ’Hawk ’was a symbol synonymous with Mandela. However, she had not been aware of it and she was delighted when he carefully stated: ‘A hawk does not eat what it finds…it finds what it wants!’

Provenance

2013 November-17 March 2014 Pretoria Art Museum, Pretoria
1994 October United Nations Headquarters New York USA.
1994 United Nations Art & Philatelic Award
1994 ‘DRAWING ATTENTION TO TRANSFORMATION & REGENERATION’ solo  Pretoria Art Museum, Pretoria

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