In exactly a week, Oppikoppi Sweet Thing throws open its gates to deliver three days of the tastiest, sweetest music going.
With what's probably the best line-up in ages just around the corner, Rolling Stone SA got on the digital line with Gavin Rain, the Cape Town based pointillist artist responsible for Oppikoppi Sweet Thing's visual elements.
Rain is the latest in string of artists (among them Anton Kannemeyer) who help give Oppikoppi cultural clout outside the music – and he's been kind enough to donate an artwork worth over R15 000 for one lucky rollingstone.co.za reader to own. And to make this Oppikoppi Sweet Thing prize even sweeter, we've got our hands a pair of tickets to the festival as well.
To enter answer these two questions:
1. What kind of artist does Gavin Rain consider himself?
2. What musicians would be the perfect soundtrack to his art?
Send your answers to firstname.lastname@example.org with your name, physical address, ID number, phone number and subject line: "Oppikoppi Gavin Rain Competition". Terms & Conditions apply. Competition ends Tuesday, 7th August 2012.
To find out how the artwork came about, why the tea-drinking Rain loves Venice, why you might spot a very special couch at the 'Koppi and who best could soundtrack his visual work, read on:
Acclaimed South African pointillist goes pop - is that the best way describe your involvement with Oppikoppi Sweet Thing?
Hahaha no, but it's certainly an interesting question. I wouldn't describe myself as a pop artist but I guess this IS a pop project, come to think of it. I'll need more tea to answer that better...
You're following in some eclectic footsteps when it comes to Oppikoppi's official artwork - have any of your predecessors taken your fancy over the years?
Yes. Many of them. If I single some out though won't others be hurt? We're a sensitive bunch I tell you. Okay actually I have to tell you I love Anton's work. But it doesn't end there...
You've likened the experience of viewing your work to music fans going back to listening to vinyl. Are you a vinyl fan yourself?
Man, of course. I have a ton of records. I have no way to listen to them. There's something importantly tragic in this. We've pushed quality aside to serve convenience. Digital means 'distinct interval'. It's telling you right there that the range is missing. Why are we cool with this?
Creating your works seems to be a lengthy process. What's on your playlist - if anything - while you work?
Well when I start a painting I'm trying to be as energetic as possible. Tool, specifically Aenima tends to surface. I start running down after the first 5 days, and the music then changes to match my pace – I tend to turn to folk music at that point. Simon van Gend sees me through to the end usually.
Your visual works often reference people who came before the current generation. Why is this important to you?
I'm hoping it's important to everyone. We're shaped by those people. Yet we seem to have forgotten this. We really shouldn't.
Does this idea of memory and message come into the music world do you think?
Yes. Definitely. Certainly in the music I listen to. I can't think of anything greater than when music takes you on a journey: When images are conjured up and you drift away on them. Sometimes the story is in the lyrics and you connect to the musician in this way, other times a memory of what you were doing when you first heard a song gets woven into the fabric... either way, the texture of your life is richer because of it. That's fantastic isn't it?
Tell us a little about the artwork we're lucky enough to be giving away?
Well it's the test canvas I created when I painted the main work for the festival. I'll often do a smaller much simpler version of the work to test colours and composition. This is my version of a sketch. I'll share a secret with you: I ended up liking this piece more than the larger one – just because I tried to push the limit of recognition: How few dots could I use and still create visual information? Each dot usually comprises of 5 or so colours. When seen from a distance these colours become one and the image resolves. But what if I used areas within each dot to create information areas? This was the only way I could achieve a resolve with so few information sites/ dots. I've lost you haven't I? Ag, it's a funky little piece that's a big part of where the whole thing started for me and I hope whoever gets it really digs it.
You've got a solo show in Venice coming up this year. Scary? Exhilarating?
I love shows in Venice man. Love them. The Biennale last year was just the most affecting of experiences. It's one thing to be in that kind of international show, but the charm that comes with winding your way around the medieval streets to find your work in some ancient little gallery is just sublime. One of the main aims of an artist is to get your work OUT there. Venice is out there for me. I'm trying to set up a studio there. As soon as it's ready you can all come and visit. But I can't vouch for the tea... so you might have to bring your own.
Are you making the trek to the 'Koppi this year?
I wish I could. I'm right in the middle of a show so can't down tools. A trek sounds arduous though man - going to Oppikoppi would be a journey. I'd say my work is there so I'm there – but I'm really quite disappointed that I can't go. Are you going? If you are, can you do me a favour? A bunch of guys have painted up a couch in my dots and they're taking it along. Can you get a pic of it for me? Take a pic of yourself sitting on the couch and send it to me. There's tea in it for you...
Is there an SA artist who might provide the perfect soundtrack for your art?
Yeah a few actually. Simon van Gend obviously. Miss Texas 1977. Joshua Grierson. You know that imagery we were talking about earlier? Isn't it all the more potent when the images that drift out of the lyrics into your mind are actually local?