Archive: Issue No. 116, April 2007

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01.04.07 Pamela Stretton at Gallery on the Square
01.04.07 Roger Ballen at the Johannesburg Art Gallery
01.04.07 'A Fresh Look at Impressionism and Post-Impressionism' at Johannesburg Art Gallery
01.04.07 Peter Schütz at Goodman Gallery
01.04.07 Lance Friedlande and Osiah Masekoameng at gordart Gallery
01.04.07 Erna Bodenstein-Ferreira at Fried Contemporary
01.04.07 Zonia Nel-Scheffer and Uwe Pfaff at Artspace Fine Art Gallery

04.03.07 Robert Hodgins at the Goodman Gallery
04.03.07 Bruce Backhouse at David Krut Arts Resource

04.02.07 Various exhibitions at the Pretoria Art Museum


Pamela Stretton

Pamela Stretton
Prime Cut 2006
digital ink jet print on foam
150 x 150cm

Pamela Stretton at Gallery on the Square

Pamela Stretton's work deals primarily with the female body and its relationship to concepts around popular culture, beauty, fashion, health and food. Stretton takes her inspiration from print, and her works manifest as inkjet prints, often combining photographic images and text. In these new works from The Encoded Body series the surfaces are enlivened with painstaking reworking. This degree of obsessive activity mirrors the vigilance with which eating disorders attempt to control the female body. The use of square formats, grids and pixels serves to reinforce and simultaneously question the imposition of conformity onto individuals. This rigidity is played off against the roundness of forms depicted, especially where Stretton tightly crops sections of her image. This is taken a step further says Stretton: 'Soft padding is used in much of my work to comment subtly on the notion of womanly curves, as well as to give dimension to what would otherwise be flat prints.'

The exhibition will be opened by Mary Corrigal.

Opens: April 18
Closes: May 9

Roger Ballen

Roger Ballen
Twirling Wires 2001
Gelatin silver print

Roger Ballen at the Johannesburg Art Gallery

Noted photographer Roger Ballen is given a mid-career exhibition at the Johannesburg Art Gallery this month. The show is sweeping, representing much of Ballen's prolific career. Of particular interest are photographs from the Platteland series, but more recent series and modes of exploration are well represented too.

Opens: March 8
Closes: May 27

'A Fresh Look at Impressionism and Post-Impressionism' at Johannesburg Art Gallery

The JAG presents a show of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist works from its collection during March, April and May. This continues a perennial focus on these movements: similarly-themed shows appeared at the gallery in 1988, 2003/2004 and 2004/2005. The current show features works on paper as well as a few late 19th century oil paintings and sculptures.

The exhibition not only explores the experiments with colour that preoccupied the Impressionists and Post-Impressionists, but also the drawing skill that underpinned their painting. Numerous etchings, lithographs and drawings are on show. A rare treat is a charcoal portrait study by Vincent Van Gogh, which, along with numerous other works by Post-Impressionist artists, counterbalances the naturalism at the heart of Impressionist works on show with a more expressive anti-naturalism. Other artists represented include Pierre Auguste Renoir, Edgar Degas, Paul Signac and Camille Pissarro.

Opens: March 29
Closes: May 13

Peter Schütz

Peter Schütz
African Daphne 2006
jelutong and oil paint
height 157cm

Peter Schütz 'Sentient Beings' at Goodman Gallery

The Goodman Gallery presents a solo exhibition of new work by Peter Schütz entitled 'Sentient Beings'. The exhibition's title refers to the individual's power of sensory and extra-sensory perception. These 'beings' possess the awareness of self and of the environments in which they exist. Focusing on a realm in which humans coexist with nature, rather than control it, Schütz's body of work echoes the Buddhist teaching which says that sentient beings are all beings that have minds and the mind is found in all beings that breathe. Teaching that a sentient being possesses a mind, whereas an automaton does not, it is therefore believed that any animal or living being whose survival strategy and behaviour appear to depend on the avoidance of suffering should be assumed to be sentient.

Although renowned for his jelutong wood sculptures, Schütz has various media to explore these ideas. The combination of a traditional carving technique and various forms of construction results in unpredictable works. This unpredictability also stems from the artist's use of colour on his wooden sculptures, altering the reading of the wood. Working alone, he sees his work as a means of personal expression.

Schütz broadly deals with the themes of nature, religion and knowledge, that which can be controlled and that which cannot. For this exhibition he has worked specifically with the idea of Christian martyrs, fusing the historic with current events. Using a combination of European and African visual references in order to forge a new mythology, Schütz's work reflects these contradictions; fusing the sacred and profane, real and imaginary, myths and reality. Working with the figurative, Schütz uses this body of work to express a oneness with the world and nature.

Opens: April 21
Closes: May 19

Osiah Masekoameng

Osiah Masekoameng
RDP 2006
silkscreen on paper

Lance Friedlande and Osiah Masekoameng at gordart Gallery

At gordart Gallery in April you can see painter Lance Friedlande's 'Passage' and Osiah Masekoameng's mixed media works entitled 'Life in the South'.

Friedlande's paintings are a celebration of the medium of oil paint and its capacity to both refer to the familiar and evoke novelty through unusual and expressive explorations of the South African landscape and the human figure. Friedlande investigates the use of paint as a representative medium but simultaneously celebrates the painterly quality of paint. His paintings are a relentless war between dark and light, line and mass, textures and intensities of colour. The works interrogate the opposing forces of balance and disorder, and a search for the elusive moment when the painting comes together in disorientated harmony.

Masekoameng will be showing his experiments with silkscreen techniques where he presents prints that resemble paintings. The exhibition is an investigation into the technical qualities of treating silkscreen in a painterly manner, while using issues of social responsibility as a tool to interrogate the poverty, unemployment and homelessness in an informal settlement. His painterly prints investigate the dynamics of survival there and celebrate the residents' ingenious and entrepreneurial skills as they go about their daily lives. He applauds their 'self-starter' attitude and self-reliance as they use found objects and natural materials to build shelters, recycle materials and using gleaning as a means to earn a living.

Opens: April 1
Closes: April 22

Erna Bodenstein-Ferreira at Fried Contemporary

Erna Bodenstein-Ferreira's 'Portraits from Beyond' explores themes relating to human frailty, transience and mortality, which she has explored in several previous exhibitions both in South Africa and in Spain.

These themes are explored through portraiture, mainly of women, based on the artist's own documentation of photographic images of females interred at Auschwitz and Birkenau during the Second World War. In these works the artist pieces together fragmentary and layered narratives, which reflect the selective nature of collective memory.

Opens: April 14
Closes: May 5

Zonia Nel-Scheffer and Uwe Pfaff at Artspace Fine Art Gallery

Artists Zonia Nel-Scheffer and Uwe Pfaff present a two-person show at Artspace in Fairland this month. Entitled 'Headspaces', the show sees each of these artists interpreting the theme in their own manner. Nel-Scheffer's colourful, tongue-in-cheek paintings explore the fast-paced, often chaotic nature of modern life. Nel-Scheffer comments on our stressful surroundings. The works play with idioms relating to the brain, considering how people tend to rely on energy drinks and pills.

Pfaff's works look at what goes on in his head while he is not asleep. 'Headspace' for Pfaff translates as a place he can run to and, paradoxically, to escape from. His works are described as 'metal creations'.

Opens: April 14
Closes: April 28

Robert Hodgins

Robert Hodgins
What's news on the Rialto, Antonio? 2006
oil over Indian ink
60 x 60cm

Robert Hodgins at the Goodman Gallery

This month, one of the most significant and consistently good painters in South Africa, Robert Hodgins, returns to the Goodman for another showing of recent work. Shifting away from his perennial interests in humour and satire, Hodgins delves into the darker side of humanity with this show, using legends around the 1368 Battle of Cascina in Italy to reflect on contemporary situations of war, terror and torture.

Working in oil on canvas as well as in monoprint, Hodgins considers the cyclic nature of war and terror. His exposure of today's war heroes reveals them to be as feintly ridiculous as yesterday's. This body of work oscillates between depictions of the humiliation of humanity, and a more traditional use of portraiture, using a series of 'Giants' to explore the way in which portraiture is used to turn people into icons.

Opens: March 17
Closes: April 14

Bruce Backhouse

Bruce Backhouse
The Great Cambdeboo ballroom 2006
51 x 78cm

Bruce Backhouse at David Krut Arts Resource

Bruce Backhouse has had an interesting involvement with the world of visual arts. Having completed two years of a Fine Arts degree at Rhodes University many years ago, he left to pursue a career in advertising. He remained there for 25 years, finally returning to fine art four years ago, once more taking up his ambition to be a painter.

This show sees Backhouse adapting his signature painting style of loose yet cartoon-like images for the medium of monotypes. Excited by the intensity of colour achievable within the process, Backhouse produced this series of landscape images in collaboration with David Krut Print Workshop. The works function to uplift the viewer, rather than deliver any overly profound messages.

Opens: March 17
Closes: April 21

New exhibitions at the Pretoria Art Museum

The Pretoria Art Museum is holding a number of shows in its various halls during this year. Until February this year is a 'Showcase of South African Art', with work arranged under the themes of portraiture, animals, interiors and landscapes. Works in various media form part of this show.

Also up, this time in the Albert Werth Hall, is an exhibition entitled 'Favourites from the Permanent Collection', catering to the varied tastes of the museum's visitors over the years. This show stays up until April 2007.

In the Henry Preiss Hall until May this year is a show of works from the Lady Michaelis Bequest. These works, donated in the 1930s, initially formed the core of the museum's permanent collection.

Until December this year is an exhibition of works from the museum's permanent collection under the title 'A Story of African Art'. The show tells 'a brief story of South African art from the time of the first San artists', including images from early 20th century painters, works from the period of Resistance art and 21st century contemporary works. This takes place in the museum's South Gallery.

Adding depth to this wide range of exhibitions is the travelling solo show by Andries Gouws, entitled 'Hiding Behind Simple Things', up until March 25. Gouws, an established Durban-based painter, lends an esoteric air to simple, everyday objects through the use of sensitive, highly considered lighting, a là Jan Vermeer.