7:00pm Saturday night and a collection of people have gathered in the light of strategically placed burning torches outside Essensual Art Gallery in Clarens. A erudite gent clears his throat and, first in fluent French and then again in English welcomes us to the opening of Frances Lozear's enigmatically titled exhibition, “l’amour eternal pour venir” (the eternal love to come), and sings her well earned praises, lauding her as one of South Africa's foremost artists. Frances adds her welcome and thanks, and Mercia Deale, gallery owner and host for the evening opens the doors, and with a sweep of her arm welcomes us in.
We follow Mercia, arm in arm with Frances, into the gallery and the impact is dramatic! The decor and atmosphere is perfect; from the blood red cherry liqueurs at the door; the hauntingly beautiful music spilling out into the night; the floor carpeted with red and black feathers; the pink and white marshmellows kissed with chocolate, the walls scrawled with cryptic messages to us, the audience, and all with the specific intent of setting off the selection of Frances's carefully selected 18 masterpieces.
Frances Lozear's "Eternal Dream" Oil on canvas, and "When you're too blind to see, listen with your heart" Oil on canvas.
Frances is an artist is the truest sense. Her work is beautiful, but at the same time challenging to the viewer; not just pretty parlour art which is found in many of the Clarens galleries today. Haunting, tonal, dramatic and heartbreaking the work speaks of Frances's personal story in an intimate way, without giving away too many clues. Those who are looking for a pretty picture to hang on a wall will be disappointed... this is a real meal, not fastfood. Wandering around admiring and enjoying the work I overheard discussion at every point; not just the "ooohs" and "aaaahs" of an admiring viewer, but sensible discussion about what the story behind each of the pieces was. The titles were as interesting as the pieces and gave valuable pointers as to what was involved in each canvas we viewed. The buyers of these pieces, be they South African, or Canadian (Frances's usual market) are going to be ecstatic with any of these lovely (in every sense of the word) works. The evening? In short it was subtly glamorous, it was stimulating, it was interesting and it was deliciously fulfilling.
In the words of one well known Clarens personality that attended who's name escapes me at the moment (forgive me), "Mercia, you have raised the bar for Clarens with this exhibition".
Mercia, Frances, congratulations to you both on what was a flawlessly executed exhibition.