T H E S E D A T E D C O N S C I O U S N E S S
by Raymond J Westraadt
“Growing up in a city (old South End – Port Elizabeth) where the brutal and painful dismantling of an entire way of life was once deemed legitimate, I began to understand the careless disregard of man in an attempt to improve, irrespective. My way of protesting this action is to try and stimulate a remembrance, the conscience thoughts of people by exposing them to that which looks and feels familiar.
The buildings I paint reflect an attitude rather than an image, abandonment and despair, but with reference to hope albeit only in our minds-eye. The starkness of the buildings in a desolate background will serve as an intense focus on the story behind the lives that drifted through these buildings and not so much the building itself. Although the buildings are devoid of life, the observer is left to draw their own conclusions as to the many stories that the image may evoke in them.
Similarly, the figurative paintings are an encapsulated narrative and not so much a painting. I often leave large swaths of white in the background of my paintings, drawing the attention to the story and not the subject matter. The images may have been born out of my intense appreciation of Surrealism, but the approach adopted by artists such as Edward Hopper wherein discourse constantly nags at the subconscious, is a constant driving force in my work.”
As an artist my mission is to produce thought provoking and consciousness stimulating artwork that pricks at that which is familiar or nostalgic. Art must leave one wondering and curious. I will always strive to produce work that forces that viewer to develop his or her own narrative. I treat myself as a poet or a writer by committing to canvas the opening line of a play. The rest gets filled in by the viewers imagination. Paintings – oil on hand stretched canvas
To be exposed to a universal audience where the stories I tell could have a deeper meaning or understanding is what I strive for. To portray that which I have experienced in my life as a South African to the greater world is very important to me. I am proudly that which I am.
In 2022 I was acknowledged in the South African Parliament for my contribution to art globally and promoting art from the Eastern Cape.
ABOUT THE ARTIST
Raymond John Westraadt was born in South End, Port Elizabeth and after a lengthy stay in the Great Karoo, moved back to Port Elizabeth in 2012.
Raymond studied art at the then Technikon, but due to financial constraints only managed to complete Foundation studies. After a stint in his brother architectural practice, he entered the world of finance. After many years in the Financial industry, he built his own restaurant and eventually moved to Nieu Bethesda. This is where the passion for art was rekindled and opened an art gallery in Graaff-Reinet.
He focused primarily on painting buildings/architecture, but after an exhibition in New York he was challenged to produce figurative works, but in his own style. A solo exhibition in Manhattan New York lead to him being awarded a Top 60 Masters Award as well as an international Artya Award in the USA. Raymond has participated in numerous solo and joint exhibitions and has had his work extensively published in Europe and The USA.