​Breathtakingly inspired recreations of art have been emerging daily from the home of Dreamcatcher’s Frans Marais and Karen Germishuys as they treat us to their #artchallenges. From Vladimir Tretchikoff’s “Lonely Clowns” complete with vuvuzela to Holbein’s “The Ambassadors” or Chagall’s “Over the Town” with the gloriously detailed landscape made of groceries, they are quite simply, genius.

Frans and Karen were never going to spend lockdown just chilling but what they’ve been doing with their art recreations takes lockdown creativity to a whole new level. “An article we read on the Getty Museum Art Challenge led us to the @tussenkunstenqurantaine Instagram feed and we were really inspired by what people were doing” explained Karen. “I begged Frans to do just one but we got such a great response that we now do one a day!”.

Contrary to what many of us think, after seeing the art and knowing their ability to make show-stopping arrivals at fancy-dress parties, they don’t in fact have a huge dress-up collection. Part of the fun has been making do and improvising, as with Karen’s dress in Tamara de Lempicka’s “Portrait de Mme Poum Rachou” that is made of kitchen roll. Similarly, the cloaks in Gustav Klint’s “The Kiss” will have had many wondering how on earth they happened to have the exact coloured fabric in the house; it turns out that those cloaks were made up of a recycled bag, some yellow underpants and some dusters. “I had to watch out for all the pins sticking out everywhere” laughs Frans. “We’ve hauled sheets and tablecloths out of cupboards, used the weirdest things for hats, raided the larder (check the wall of Fitch and Leedes Tonic cans in “Over the Town”) and dug out cuddly toys. When we started on Tretchikoff’s “Lonely Clowns”, I slung a brown towel around my shoulders and put on a glove – and it took off from there”.

Their home is their studio and they’ve used every space including the bathroom. It takes them around 2-3 hours to set each one up – from getting the angle and lighting right to moving furniture around and herding the dogs when they are not being drafted in as props. “Our house has been turned upside down numerous times!” said Karen. “Sometimes, we take the picture and then realise that something isn’t right so then we stop and start again. As we work on a project and how to recreate it, we’ve discovered that a lot of the poses are really odd; bodies are twisted in crazy ways and trying to replicate them is almost impossible!”

Aside from the sheer genius in composition and lighting (Frans’ tools of the trade do come in handy here), there’s also the element of finding the art to work from. They spend hours trawling the internet, looking at their favourite artists as well as searching for specific subject matter. “We decided early on not to focus on paintings that lots of people have done and that self-imposed rule is making our choices more difficult because there are so many people doing the challenge” explains Karen. “Typically, one of us finds something, the other one says it’s too crazy and then we see how we can make it work and come up with the costumes and props. Now people have started sending us requests which has definitely added to the challenge.”

Some of the art even has a lockdown focus. Check out the mask in their version of Karel Appel’s “Hiep Hiep Hoerah” or many of their captions such as “Losing the will to live” (Degas’ Portrait of Henri Michel Levy) or “When you haven’t left your bed in days” (Mucha’s Portrait of Mucha’s daughter).

They are humbly amazed at the euphoric reception their work has been receiving. “An unexpected highlight for us has been the kindness and generosity from everyone who has commented, shared the posts or private-messaged us. It’s given us a wonderful sense of community. We’re reaching people from all over the world: the USA, Russia, Lithuania, the Maldives, all sorts of places.”

The routine and focus needed to create the art has played a vital role in feeding Frans’ creativity as well as allowing them to focus, if briefly, on something other than the human suffering and economic meltdown caused by this pandemic. “For the time that we’re busy with our projects, we’re in a different, more positive headspace,” says Karen. “We’ve laughed hysterically throughout each one and that’s helping us stay sane.”

Judging by the feedback on Facebook, it’s helping us all stay sane too as we wait impatiently each day for their posts. No pressure Frans and Karen but please don’t stop.

*Frans and Karen’s Dreamcatcher Productions is a videography and editing company that specialises in Behind-the-Scenes and digital content. For more information visit their website www.dreamcatcherproductions.co.za

* You can read about The Getty Museum’s original challenge here    https://blogs.getty.edu/iris/getty-artworks-recreated-with-household-items-by-creative-geniuses-the-world-over/

Beccy Kellond, Marketing