Ledelle Moe shows at Axis
by Natasha Becker
The most recent exhibition at the Axis Gallery, well-known locally and internationally for showing African art, was 'Collapse IV' - the monumental and miniature sculptures of the South African artist Ledelle Moe. Moe studied sculpture at Technikon Natal, and travelled to the US on a scholarship in 1993, where she continued her studies. She has remained there ever since and has become increasingly well known for her large scale, bold work. She recently showed at Durban's KZNSA.
Reflecting upon her work, Moe wrote recently, 'The means by which I explore the emotional complexity of my experiences and my identity as a South African is through the symbolic language of the human and animal form. The violent treatment of the surfaces over exposed steel refers both to power and powerlessness.'
On entering the front space of the Axis, the visitor is greeted by Land, a huge undulating, textured, gray, concrete and steel sculpture. The artist's manipulation of these difficult materials is impressive. The concrete is rock hard to the touch, while retaining the appearance of malleability. It is a richly textured work, smooth in some places and rough in others. Chalk markings indicate that the sculpture is made up of individual pieces which are then assembled to form this fluid whole.
Land is more than a sculptural installation - it is a landscape in and of itself, and this is what makes Moe's large scale installations so exciting. I am reminded of the installations she produced for the group exhibitions at Socrates Park and Pratt Institute in New York, in 2000 and 2001 respectively, which also blur the lines between sculpture and landscape.
In the back space, her vast concrete and steel heads Collapse II(2004) and Collapse III (2005) rest peacefully on the gallery floor even as they reference colossi toppled, often violently, during our recent and distant past. The strength and vulnerability, power and fragility, erasure and permanence, of each monumental head is skilfully captured by the artist.
At the opposite end of the scale, Congregation (2006), installed on the south west gallery wall, is a collection of miniature heads resembling the excavated artifacts of an archaeological dig. Dug up, or knocked over from a position of preeminence, Moe's heads differ in size but carry similar messages about the frailty of the human condition.
Natasha Becker is a South African student currently based in New York, studying for a PhD in art history at SUNY, Binghamton
Opened: September 26
Closed: October 21