Earlier today when I went outside to water my garden a delicious scent interrupted the idle chatter in my head: a reminder that the Jasmine climbing next to the patio door was blooming. We planted the creeper in memory of our friend, Ronnie Levitan, a South African architect and photographer, who was senselessly murdered in his Cape Town apartment on January 28th, 2005.
Jasmine grew outside the kitchen door of the house we shared with Ronnie in the mid ’70’s. When the perfumed air first hits my nostrils every spring, I see him in that big kitchen happily cooking his dinner at the old fashioned stove, still dressed in his warm coat with his camera bag slung across his shoulder, and oblivious to the hungry Labrador puppy and kittens at his feet.
Five years already! Dear Ronnie, I’ll never forget you, your big heart or your friendly “Howzit”.
Ronnie Levitan ‘Conceptual portraits’
50 X 30 cm
excerpt from Architectural Review June 2007: Architect Ronnie Levitan’s earliest photographs of shantytown domestic decor fleshed out his professional research into housing conditions under apartheid in the 1970s, and provided a springboard for an intermittent project that he continued until his untimely death in 2005. These vivid images, usually portraits, capture an internal world of ingenuity rich in branded imagery. Improvised wallpaper is made of advertising posters or foodstuff label overruns, like an Andy Warhol painting come to life. Surfaces are covered in catalogue pages or posters of Will Smith, Beyonce and the Kaizer Chiefs (the Soweto soccer team, as opposed to the popular beat combo). Dressing tables combine cleaning products and knick-knacks in arrangements reconfigured as shop-window displays, altars to lifestyle deities attended by feather dusters, ornamental dogs and cuddly toys.