My first introduction to the world of Frans Groenewald was sometime in 2003 or so, when his work stood alongside Glendine and others at the Alice Art Gallery in Hartebeestpoort. I instantly loved the fun characters, the visual puns and the sophisticated colours.
The images in this post are the intellectual property of Frans Groenewald Please see the copyright notice at the end of the post.
Way back in 2011 I gathered all my courage to approach Frans for my first ever interview for SeethroughIt Mag (free download here). He was very kind and patient with a total newbie. In that interview, we spoke about being punny and keeping things fresh, what a ‘smile to the mind‘ feels like, and about his unique ‘decotainment’.
Four years down the line and Fran’s work is just as cheerfully energetic and fun. His distinctive style and reputation is growing, his RECI’PEA cookbooks are stylishly clueing in cooks, and he still has time to produce highly personalized commissioned art for both individuals and corporates.
I was very fortunate that Frans could spare the time to get us up to speed on his latest projects (and be so forgiving of my mistakes (oops!).
You’ve been really busy since our last interview. So what’s the latest news on the ‘decotainment’ front and your company, Vesphaghetti.
Vespaghetti (see your spelling :)) [oops!]
Since our last chat, we published a very good selling, The Lighter Side of Wine book. The style of images are much more muted and understated. [I] Also illustrated a range of famous quotes eg. Oscar Wilde.
Some [other] interesting projects [included]: a mural for a coffee shop in Toronto (Canada), a series of large paintings for a Swiss Bank that combines finance & wine (Raifeissen des Coteaux in Vetroz).
Much of my focus moved to painting people’s stories: Let me paint your story.
We designed a new website: http://www.vespaghetti-art.com, which includes an online gallery.
The market is quite tight and we have to stay fresh.
You’ve also brought out a cookbook ‘Cooking With Basil’. Is this the same Basil whose adventures you’ve illustrated since 2002(?) Tell us more about the cookbook.
No, the new book is called: Cooking with Rosemary & Benedict (chicken recipes). In association with Good Taste Magazine.
[Cooking with Basil is the first in the series, followed by Cooking with Rosemary and Benedict. Read a review here]
Will Lourensford Wine Estate be producing wines to go with Basil’s recipes as well?
No, I’m not that influential :). I simply have the privilege to have a studio on the farm and produce artwork in an amazing setting.
You’re also illustrating children’s books. Which books have you illustrated?
The Kachoo Range (8 books) and also ceramic mugs/plates/bowls to complement the series. Jacana Publishing is the client and the writer, Tina Scottford. Basically a fun book inspired by the Kruger National Park…also ‘edutainment’. A fun way to learn and read about our local animals.
Do you plan to explore more of the writing field in the the future?
No, I’m not much of a writer and prefer single concepts/words as opposed to narratives. But if an exciting story comes my way, I’ll gladly illustrate it.
I loved ‘Excommunication‘ although it took me a few moments to get the pun and humor (:-D) Do pieces like that get you ‘bad press’ at times? How do you handle situations like that?
Hardly ever get negative feedback (directly), but I also try not to be intentionally controversial or create unnecessary tension.
You once mentioned that your hope for the future (seen as a sinking ship) stems from your belief in Christ. Does this explain your ‘Ark’ series?
So far I have not dabbled much in overtly ‘Christian’ themes or content…rather a Jesus follower enjoying the creative arts.
You mentioned a few years ago that you would like to explore the more abstract. Since then, you have produced a few ‘abstracted’ pieces (sorry couldn’t help the pun :-D). Which is your favorite? Why that one?
I would like to one day do a more serious series of social commentary paintings. This would be presented under my own name and not a brand (Vespaghetti/Flambe), not displayed with the current quirky artworks… and mostly large paintings.
The social commentary would be painted in a semi-abstract way eg, colour/texture and minimal representation of content. Visual poetry… more sizzle and less steak 🙂
How would you like to be remembered in the distant future?
As someone that loved Christ more than his art/career. Someone that invested in people (relationships) and the bonus would be that the God-given talent was applied and developed to glorify Him. Not that I have reached this position :), but the aim is to live this way.
Are there any other new exciting projects on the horizon?
I am working on a black&white range of my best concepts. Also a very large mural for Mr Singh (owner of Le Quartier Francais, Leeu Estates, Mullineux Wines, etc). A daunting task.
You are known for your affordably priced and personalized artwork. Do you still accept commissions from individuals and companies? How do we find you and your work?
Yes, I do. These kind of projects are about 70 percent of my income/time. See [my] new website: vespaghetti-art.com.
Let me paint your story has all the details.
[Note: Frans is currently running a 10% special on your first order on this new site.]
Frans’ studio is at: Lourensford Wine Estate , Somerset West, South Africa
Thank you, Frans, for your time (and understanding :-)). Here’s to your work being even more grapely appreciated in thyme!
Copyright Notice: The images in this post are the intellectual property of Frans Groenewald (http://vespaghetti-art.com). Please do not copy/paste (except on social media) or otherwise reproduce these images without the express permission of Frans Groenewald.