AVA Gallery 18 February to 7 March 2008 written by Estelle Jacobs

This exhibition of specially selected work, entitled Joe’s Choice, brings together the experienced, discerning eye of long-established art dealer, artist and collector, Joe Wolpe (born 1922) with the creative talent and artistic vision of renowned Cape Town artist, Jill Trappler (born 1957).

Fundamentally it showcases a tight selection by Wolpe of works, in a variety of media from acrylic on canvas to etchings, made by Trappler over the last three decades. It is borne out of a studio showing by Trappler in July 2007 and Wolpe’s abiding, strong interest in her extensive oeuvre.

For this show, Wolpe, himself an artist with a dedicated following, has made a strict choice of quality works sourced from Trappler’s prodigious output. Wolpe’s only criterion for inclusion is the standard and quality of the works themselves. Hence this exhibition does not conform to current curatorial paradigms and has neither a definite theme or subject, nor any chronological restrictions. It does not represent a particular body of work made for a specific space. Works have been selected across decades and past exhibitions highlighting a number of Trappler’s investigative art making interests and concerns.

Trappler is well-known as a committed and serious artist of integrity who has pursued her changing vision by exploring many modes of non-representation in her art. Trained at the Johannesburg Art Foundation (founded by her late uncle, Bill Ainslie) Trappler has relentlessly followed her creative impulse, producing primarily non-figurative acrylic pieces which examine her relationship with colour, scale, structure, shape, surface and texture, the last three being clearly of dominant interest. A weaver by training, she sometimes threads her canvas into shaped configurations not often found in more traditional painting practice. In general, she refuses gimmickry and is not seduced by hype or short-cuts, but concentrates instead on the materiality of the painted plane.

In addition to her dedicated, ongoing work for numerous art communities, Trappler has exhibited extensively throughout South Africa and also abroad in Africa and Europe . Her work is represented in major corporate and public art collections which include SANG, Vodacom, SABC, Boland Bank and UCT. She continues to participate in art workshops ands conferences, both local and international, and is currently working on a book about Bill Ainslie.

Wolpe shares with Trappler an inherent distaste for hype of any kind. He has the rare ability to ascertain the basic worth of any work of art, be it an old master or a highly contentious contemporary piece. In his art dealings since the 1950s he has handled many great works of art (including, amongst many others, some by de Vlaminck, Kitaj, Kandinsky, Klee, Hockney), has broken international art auction records for George Segal and Ben Nicholson, and was personally included in a documentary made in London in 1982 by the BBC, entitled “A Day At Sotheby’s”. To a great extent Wolpe was responsible for introducing South Africans to international art through finely chosen works which were shown in his gallery, while simultaneously exhibiting local stars such as Stern,  Skotnes, Higgs, Page and Gassner, inter alia.  Although slow to produce his own art pieces, Wolpe is represented in several public collections, including SANG, the Arabella Sheraton and Abbey Holdings, as well as in numerous private collections world-wide.

In March 2008 the Jewish Museum in Cape Town is presenting an exhibition focusing on Wolpe’s significant role in the art life of the Cape during the second half of the 20 th C. Given his discernment and taste, no-one is more qualified than Wolpe to make this    special selection, having as he has a lifetime of experience and expertise, and a highly practised eye.