FRANS HALS AND JUDGING GREAT IDEAS

FransHalsLoerie

Great teachers help you see with more understanding. A history of art lecturer in Cape Town advised me that if I really wanted to understand what genius looked like I should take myself off to the Old Townhouse on Greenmarket Square in Cape Town. Starting with the Old Flemish paintings on the ground floor I followed his strict instruction to only look at the hands in the portraits and nothing else. Folded hands on shiny and dark fabrics all looked difficult to paint and some were better than others. Most looked a bit like pink sausages with some rings and highlights. As someone who likes looking at peoples hands there was no one in this bunch that I wanted to shake hands with. Going up the stairs was more of the same until I reached the last piece I was to look at – the Frans Hals. And there above the beautiful fireplace was a pair of hands that are full of life, not one outline filled in with volumes of flesh tone, but many gestural flicks of colour that have form and vitality. It is a breathtaking demonstration of genius that text book description cannot match.

Having judged many design competitions I find it is exactly the same with really good ideas. They jump and sparkle and you feel them in your chest. Before you read the crafted agency description about the problem and how clever they were at solving it, an award winning idea just grabs your attention. In the many discussions around the work I have never (OK maybe once at Cannes) debated a gold medal. Most of the discussion is around the finalists or shortlists and the volume of the wrangling is in the bronzes and the silvers. Great ideas are as breathtaking as the Frans Hals hands. They have form and vitality and professional confidence that makes me always feel wistful and a little jealous that I hadn’t done that piece of work. So as we once again go through the pain and suffering of submitting our entries by the end of May for the Loeries I would urge anyone who is interested in talent to spend a few moments in the calm, quiet, Old Townhouse and celebrate genius that sparkled 400 years ago. At the very least it’s a good place to nurse a Loeries party hangover.

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