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Vincent van Gogh’s bright-yellow paintings seem at odds with the depressed and tortured life of the artist, suggests Sam Shendi. The Egyptian-born artist has particular insight into this paradox, as he too creates art that appears lively, bright and upbeat despite his difficult childhood and the darkness it cast over his adult life. "If I had to translate the life I had previously in my work, there would be a lot more dark colours and it would be less friendly," he says. The UK-based artist is showing his art in SA for the first time, at Graham’s Fine Art Gallery in Johannesburg. The collection of his large resin sculptures are "friendly", as he puts it. You could call them beautiful, even though this adjective is rarely used to describe art as it almost always implies it is devoid of meaning or any conceptual high-art nous. This is by design; Shendi wants people to like his work and maybe by extension him. Young people don’t respond to hard or unpalatable imagery, he suggests. "I a...

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