Rock Art Book Launch by Renaud Ego
On Wednesday 20th March, renowned writer and philosopher, Renaud Ego’s book launch took place. The book deals with Ego’s intellectual journey with art of the San and Bushmen in South Africa for the past twenty years. He referred to this journey as something that has been ‘beautiful’ to him. This journey of appreciating rock art started in the mid 90’s when he came to the realisation that biodiversity was disappearing.
Speech, language and beliefs were matters which were dear to his heart when he started writing this book. The book was influenced by the tradition of rock art in France after a cave was discovered in 1994. Ego saw the opportunity to write this book when South Africa was still banished from cultural exchange with the rest of the world because of apartheid. In 1998 Ego’s first journey began as he started discovering and writing about rock art. He figured that people from France would not have gone to the Brownberge or Drakensberg on a normal occasion to appreciate this art and saw this as an opportunity to share this with his fellow countrymen.
For Ego, to understand what an image is, it is first and foremost necessary to take into account what art does to the person looking at it. In this book, art is seen as a visual language connected to the present and to the past. He sees these paintings as a fantastic ability to express messages and freedoms and describes these paintings as something in which beautiful beings can exist. For him, the purpose of good art is to imagine the imagination of God. Professor Yunus Balim saw the art of the San and Bushmen as a connectedness with the past. He saw this as an important human condition where the art is more important than the artist.
Balim also commented on the political value of representational art. Going back to the art of these indigenous groups of South Africa, the question of identity emerged as well as the agencies involved in the rock art commenting on the descendants of the different Khoi groups. It is Ego’s hope that the reader will engage with all people in this ‘endless conversation of art.’ The conversation about this book honoured him with great privilege.
The book, entitled Visionary Animal is available at Van Schaiks bookshops.