Prepare to be spellbound by the Art Vibes Exhibition of Heinrich Pelser and a Live Performance by Lily and Bear.
What is better to do on a rainy summer’s day in Pretoria than to visit a cutting-edge art exhibition, listen to great live music, enjoy home-made gelato and smash a Leaky Tap Golden Ale while having a relaxed conversation with interesting people?
Heinrich Pelser is an accomplished South African musician and a much treasured music teacher. A classical guitarist by training and a rock player at heart, his first art exhibition, Art Vibes, explored the connection between art and technology in a modern world. Just like through his music, Heinrich effortlessly communicates playful and optimistic ideas, backed by what appears to be graphic simplicity. Heinrich has offered us the gift of a true artist, as the many layers of work and thought transpire in each and every one of his creations. Each piece of art on display vibrates with a story to tell; some by the use of lines and shadows, some featuring brightly colored shapes that kindles the art, giving it an impression of movement.
I had the great pleasure of asking Heinrich and Bianca a few questions. Here’s our chat on art, music, family and dreams.
Pat: Who is Heinrich Pelser and what would he normally be doing on a rainy Saturday morning?
Heinrich (inward smile): I am quite the day dreamer, imagining myself in various scenarios all the time, from being on stage with my friends at massive venues to thinking what a dragon would say if he had to be in a musical production. Rainy Saturday mornings will have me drinking coffee and being busy with preparing food. I love to write songs and draw when the weather is gloomy, but my wife’s influence also has me watching movies when the thunder comes for a visit.(he hugs Bianca) Bianca (with her warm, glowing smile): What he means to say is that I make him watch more television than he wants to! 😊
Pat: How do you balance art, music and your teaching job?
Heinrich: I feel it comes quite easy and as a necessity as well, diverting my mind and helping me to not fall into a routine rut. Teaching helps me tremendously because kids have pure and colorful minds that aids me with ideas and also to break the loneliness one can fall into while drawing or writing music alone for hours on end.
Pat: Tell us about the media you use. Heinrich (his fingers seem to have picked up an imaginary pen): I feel the media guides my style. With pen drawings the type of ink has a massive influence over the type of hatching I would use and the length of my lines. With digital drawing I took to the pen fairly easy and various programs have me apply different techniques. The tablet allows me the freedom to draw absolutely anywhere and that is super for when inspiration comes.
Pat: What is your creative process like? Heinrich: I draw a lot in my classroom at school in between lessons and then I will take ideas home and finish them on the patio outside. I love late evenings and listening to music while I do creative things. There are guitars nearby almost always so If my mind throws a lyric at me I would put that idea down. Whatever I feel the vibe for I would do, I never force myself to finish a certain idea if I am not in the groove to do so. Bianca (excited): It is amazing and very inspiring to see Heinrich while he is drawing or writing/composing. The creative process totally encompasses him and he gets in the flow very easily.
Pat: As a musician, you can take your guitar with you everywhere you go. Has this proximity influenced your choice of medium used in your art? Heinrich (nods while his fingers seem to drum a little tune) : It has indeed. I always carry small sketch-pads with me so quite a few of my drawings are rather small. The digital medium changed that due to the fact that I can store any canvas size on my tablet. It is different not to see the big picture when you step back but that is part of the fun waiting for the large prints to arrive at the print store.
Pat: How has this art exhibition come to life? Who supported you? Heinrich: Friso Woudstra and I were having a beer after a band meeting at Craft Exchange where he is an owner. The conversation steered in the direction of an art exhibition and I started planning. My father Willem was instrumental in everything, his arm was in a sling but he helped me with all the logistics and to build the various crazy things we attempted to have a decent display area. My friend Brenton Watt at Brand Inventors helped me with the UV printing for the bigger pieces I had on display and our experiments ended up being some of the key pieces on display. My wife is a legend and she drives me to do things a bit better every time. She is a beast when it comes to events so her planning skills and helping hands is an absolute blessing.(winks at Bianca).
Pat: What is the coolest part about being an artist and a musician? Heinrich: The fact that they feed on one another so well. Music can also be a visual medium that creates images with sounds in the mind of the listener. I think over the years the two amalgamated for me personally and in many aspects they cannot be separated.
Pat: Which artwork is your favorite and why? Heinrich: The Indulged Man is probably my favorite. I drew this at school so it was my first big project and it taught me so much of my own style and mind. I have fond memories of drawing this at my Mom’s dining table while listening to the radio. Bianca: I remember seeing one of Heinrich’s artworks up on the wall of the art class in high school. It moved me deeply and I had, up until that point, never seen anything quite like it. The intricacy with which he composed that piece and the amount of detail he put into every square centimeter was just amazing. He was the first graphic artist at our school and inspired me to major in that medium as well. I don’t think he has that piece anymore. My favorite work at the moment is Whaleybubsinthecity.
Pat: What’s next for Heinrich Pelser? Heinrich: I will keep on building my repertoire of songs and artworks. At the moment I am focused on creating and with the December holidays coming up I have ample time to create and consume fresh ideas and moments to feed me for another year.
Thank you, Heinrich and Bianca, for great art, good music and great company. I left Heinrich’s Art Vibes Exhibition with the enlightened feeling that anything is possible when one works hard, believes in one’s dreams and, yes, perhaps, “with a little help from my friends”.