Wine pairing is often associated with food. French marketer Christine Lundy challenges conventions by pairing South African wines with art. A descendant of well-known 19th-century French sculptor Charles Cordier, educated in the Paris museums and raised in the vineyards of Burgundy, she is using her knowledge and passion to draw comparisons and analogies between the two arts in South Africa, her country of adoption.
I have always been inspired by a quotation from French poet Arthur Rimbaud's letter. In a direct translation, 'I say, that in order to be a "seer", make oneself a seer. The poet makes himself a seer by a long, prodigious and rational disordering of all the senses: Je dis qu'il faut être voyant, se faire voyant. Le poète se fait voyant par un long, immense et raisonné dérèglement de tous les sens.'
Although it is intended to describe a new 'genre' of poetry, I consider that his statement can be extended to all forms of art. I believe that all artists are visionaries; their work of art tells a unique story or, as per a dictionary definition of art, 'simply express an aesthetic truth or feeling'. Through their imagination, artists create a new environment and share their vision with the spectator, the taster.
This observation can be clearly perceived in the work of painters, sculptors and musicians, to name a few, but I consider that winemakers and sometimes viticulturists and winery owners can also be regarded as visionary artists. I refer specifically to wines that have been handcrafted with special care to express their unique story. They may be linked to terroir, to a special way of farming or winemaking, or a special blend made from various varietals and origins, using different base wines in the same way a painter uses his palette. And in the way of wine... the palate.
Wines are not often easily perceived as works of art – knowledge and experience enhance appreciation of the depth and quality of certain wines. I therefore endeavour to showcase the art within South African wines by pairing them with artists who, in their essence, share similar history, skills, visions or passions.
Expression of individuality: Iona and Bruce Arnott
Art and wine are quintessential to Iona's new red blend: One Man Band, 'an endeavour to put the best possible red wine from Iona in a bottle'. This is no surprise when you find out that owner Rozy Gunn, a classically trained artist, sculptor and converted farmer, studied at the Michaelis School of Fine Art, under the mentorship of Bruce Arnott, a major South African artist with sculptures on permanent display at the Johannesburg Art Gallery (JAG) – The Citizen, the National Gallery, and the Baxter Theatre in Cape Town – The Sphinx. So when the decision came to market their new, unique wine, Rozy and husband Andrew decided to collaborate with Bruce to present to the market a blend of art and wine. One Man Band, say the Gunns, is 'a balancing act using many different instruments, aiming to harmonise, coordinate and integrate the separate elements'.
Rozy adds that artists have a 'duty to express themselves (through their art) with individuality', 'individual wines that lead to recognition' in the marketplace. Iona's unique character probably stems from the exceptional partnership between husband and wife, the yin and yang of winemaking, combining the art, personified by Rozy, and the science, through Andrew.
Andrew, a qualified engineer by trade, from Johannesburg, fought the odds and farming recommendation by deciding to plant a vineyard. His theoretical assessment of the terroir of Iona led him to believe that he would be able to grow vines in similar climatic conditions to that of Burgundy, in order to create excellent and balanced wines. Rozy has added to Andrew's sound structure and innovative farming, the feel, skills and passion of the artist.
The complexity, richness and variety of Iona are well illustrated in Bruce Arnott's work: the former professor in the Department of Fine Art and past director of the Michaelis School of Fine Art Professor Pippa Skotnes, director at the Centre for Curating the Archive, said during one of Bruce's exhibition openings: 'Arnott's sculptures carried a weight of meaning generated by decades of study, combining charm, lightness and irreverence to offer insights and idiosyncracies.'
The creative blend between two visionaries, a wine farmer and a sculptor, resulted in the creation of the One Man Band label: art from art.
THIS ARTICLE IS A PREVIEW OF HER COFFEE-TABLE BOOK PAIRING SOUTH AFRICAN ART & WINE, A BLEND OF VISION AND CREATION, TO BE PUBLISHED IN OCTOBER 2013 BY SCHREIBERMEDIA.
Download published article.