Archive: Issue No. 117, May 2007

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06.05.07 Angela Buckland at David Krut Projects
06.05.07 Penny George and Karen Bareuther at Gordart Gallery
06.05.07 Paul Boulitreau at Artspace Fine Art Gallery
06.05.07 Billie Zangewa at Afronova
06.05.07 Carl Roberts at Gallery on the Square
06.05.07 Joan Abrahams at Rabbi Cyril Harris Community Centre
06.05.07 Happy Dhlame at the Johannesburg Art Gallery Project Room
06.05.07 Tracy Lynch and Francois van Reenen at the Premises Gallery at the Johannesburg Civic Theatre
06.05.07 Colleen Alborough at Outlet, Pretoria
06.05.07 Cheryl Gage at the University of Johannesburg Art Gallery
06.05.07 'Collaborations: an exhibition of young artists' at Wolmarans Gallery, Wits
06.05.07 Majak Bredell at Fried Contemporary in Pretoria
06.05.07 Harold Rubin at Goodman Gallery
06.05.07 Dungamanzi/Stirring Waters at the Johannesburg Art Gallery

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

04.02.07 Various exhibitions at the Pretoria Art Museum


Angela Buckland

Angela Buckland
Untitled (Seven Fountains Primary School,
Shayamoya, Kokstad) 2005
digital pigment print

Angela Buckland at David Krut Projects

David Krut Projects hosts an exhibition of photographs by Angela Buckland. Buckland achieved international recognition in 2003 with a nomination for the Daimler Chrysler Award for Creative Photography. The installation for which she was nominated, entitled Where's Nikki, explored life with a disabled child. The honesty of this approach is carried through into her current show, where she investigates the daily toil involved in the building of the Constitutional Court. The show features her images from David Krut Publishing's recent release Light on a Hill: Building the Constitutional Court of South Africa, and also includes images Buckland took on other building sites.

Formally the works are a departure from the grainy introspection of Where's Nikki in their saturated colour and inclusion of the detailed minutiae of the building sites. Conceptually the works offer a fair social commentary on the process of nation-building: this results from the subtle but powerful juxtaposition of the harshness of working conditions on a construction site with the splendour of the public building being created.

Nonetheless the work still functions as a measured celebration of the values the Constitutional Court embodies: David Krut Project's press release for this show states '[Buckland's] photographs of the Constitutional Court go deeper than mere superficial documentation by focusing, often in a metaphorical way, on elements of the building that make clear its tarnished past and memories but, simultaneously, its ability to transcend all of this to become a symbol of hope for all South Africans'.

Opens: April 21
Closes: May 6

Penny George and Karen Bareuther at Gordart Gallery

Two essentially separate shows go up at Gordat Gallery this month: Penny George's show entitled 'DK', and a body of work by Karen Bareuther called 'Periods of Pause'. George's prints - tonal aquatints, drypoint and engravings - convey sensitivity and solidity. Her versatility is reflected in the images produced, which incorporate discarded, banal found objects, often loaded with intimations of decay and degeneration. Redundant items each at different stages of decay become the protagonists of death. In these works, the hypothesis of the formerly valuable item comes into play, another metaphor for the status of death. George's current work reveals a growing range of techniques and materials by coalescing life and death, beauty and corrosion, organic and inorganic, bringing us face to face with the essence of humanity.

The title of Bareuther's print exhibition refers to periods and cycles of reflection, and introspection, of being suspended in fear or time. Her work explores the way society, and the individual within that society, deals with the aftermath of sexual abuse and how the victim (or rather survivor) negotiates normality within the parameters of social perception.

This work is an investigation into the relationships of power that enable and perpetuate sexual and emotional abuse in the first place. Figures, diagrams and maps are combined and superimposed, and the meaning changes depending on what is inferred by the observer.

Opens: April 29
Closes: May 24

Paul Boulitreau

Paul Boulitreau
Angel Dream 2007
mixed media on paper
75 x 105cm

Paul Boulitreau at Artspace Fine Art Gallery

French-born Johannesburg-based painter and printmaker Paul Boulitreau presents a show of works entitled 'Facing Distortions' at Artspace Fine Art gallery in Fairland, Johannesburg this month. Gallerist, curator, lecturer and artist Gordon Froud will open the show.

The artist's work is based on line and colour vibrations, with no desire to create illusion through perspective or other paint effects. The accidental becomes a source for formal abstractions in his work. His painting coupled with either the cold, hard transparency of glass or the opacity of wood, shift in possible meaning. Through his work Boulitreau leads his audience into a cruel and fragile private world. He offers a new way of looking at the mirror.

Boulitreau has exhibited extensively both locally and internationally. He is a permanent artist at the Galerie Brun Léglise in Paris, and has also shown in Köat;ln, New York and Johannesburg.

Opens: May 5
Closes: June 2

Billie Zagwena

Billie Zagwena standing with one of her silk tapestries

Billie Zangewa at Afronova

Billie Zangewa made a mark with her début solo exhibition in Johannesburg in 2004 and has since consistently produced striking artworks and developed her unmistakeable visual language. Since 2004 she has travelled and experimented extensively, working and showing in Africa, Europe and the USA.

Her intimate universes meet the public realm in this series of daring and original silk tapestries with strong narratives and presence. The cut-silk collage and cotton embroidery explore rich, precious textures and sensitive palettes, feminine but never quaint or decorative.

Zangewa has been feeding on her experiences and brings a whole new bag of stories revealing her appetite for life and awareness of the world. With her new silk tapestries she emerges as a triumphant African woman, revealing a consciousness of her roots and remaining fully in touch with her environment.

Opens: May 2
Closes: June 2

Carl Roberts at Gallery on the Square

Sculptor Carl Roberts presents a show of work at the Gallery on the Square this month. Roberts works in the vein of automatic Surrealism in the sense that he trusts his subconscious to generate ideas, emphasising the magical, the accidental and the dreamlike. Roberts states 'Like the Rorschach (ink blot) test, the material often suggests images, and sometimes presents them in unusual ways. The images made depend ultimately upon what lies in the subconscious, elements of chance and the spirit of the times.'

Opens: May 30
Closes: June 23

Joan Abrahams at Rabbi Cyril Harris Community Centre

A selection of paintings spanning the last 10 years of Joan Abrahams' career is on show at the Rabbi Cyril Harris Community Centre this month. Former Gauteng Editor of ArtThrob Robyn Sassen said this about Abrahams' work: 'Close up, it is as though a mischievous graffito has been at them, drawing and scratching layers of symbols in the paint work. At first, these notations seem whimsical, but on closer examination their meanings, giving the works visual and conceptual wealth, are unmistakeable.'

Abrahams is represented in private and corporate collections both locally and internationally.

Opens: April 22
Closes: May 16

Happy Dhlame

Happy Dhlame
The Bread of Christ 2006
mixed media
101.5 x 101.5cm

Happy Dhlame at the Johannesburg Art Gallery Project Room

Employing what JAG curator Khwezi Gule calls 'a counter-aesthetic aesthetic', Happy Dhlame creates works that draw attention to that which lies beneath the surfaces of the gadgets, buildings, macinery and furniture we use every day. Working with paintings and installation, Dhlame reminds us simultaneously of the fragility of the built environment and the transience of existence. Though seemingly playful, this approach operates on a metaphoric level to suggest aspects of our lives that often remain hidden, including memories. Dhlame's work also seeks to reference the many unskilled, underpaid workers of the cities that make comfortable life possible without participating in it.

Opens: April 25
Closes: July 1

Tracy Lynch

Tracy Lynch
Boy with finger puppet no.1 2007
oil on canvas

Francois van Reenen

Francois van Reenen
Monster Love 2006
mixed media

Tracy Lynch and Francois van Reenen at the Premises Gallery at the Johannesburg Civic Theatre

'Headroom' is a collaboration between artists Tracy Lynch and Francois van Reenen. Each are exhibiting canvasses and various props in the form of van Reenen's sculptures and Lynch's found objects. In addition Lynch's portraits of children and van Reenen's paintings of puppies deal with the concept of vulnerability and innocence in a benign universe.

Lynch's portraits engage with wider themes, they are not about the subject as an individual but rather they embody a general state of mind, there is a sense of random identity in their simplified facial features. The smooth surfaces of the faces are whitewashed and remote with a powdered finish, reminiscent of Geisha or manga heroines. These surfaces are then dissolved with layers of pattern applied cosmetically over their stylised features. These images of beauty are questionable in a society disempowered by fear and violence.

Van Reenen's loosely painted black and white portraits of puppies deal with the 'cute' and helplessness of the newly born. These characters are juxtaposed with vibrantly coloured flat cartoon characters based on his sculptural pieces. The painted canvasses co-exist with CG animation displayed on screen. The animation generates a fast-paced energy that is locked in a dialogue with the static image on the canvas. The sculptural pieces of toy-like entities are the props that feature in the mixed media paintings.

Opens: April 28
Closes: May 19

Colleen Alborough

Colleen Alborough
Before the Time 2007 (detail)

Colleen Alborough at Outlet

Colleen Alborough presents an artist's book at Outlet during May. Before the Time(2007) is a limited edition, concertina book. It is an exploration of a solitary journey along a melancholic yet painterly stretch of road. The images search into the distance, trying to see beyond the isolation and apparent silence of the passing veld. The work attempts to capture traces of life in the land that momentarily reflect within our field of vision whilst on such journeys.

Opens: May 5
Closes: May 31

Cheryl Gage at the University of Johannesburg Art Gallery

Cheryl Gage will exhibit a body of work, entitled 'The Wolf in the Forest', at the UJ Art Gallery from during May. This show presents a symbolic narrative of her cultural and environmental heritage and will be addressed through paintings, drawings, graphic works, installation art, video performances as well as artist books.

Over the past two years Gage has been concerned with the issue of personal histories and her place in the rigorous changes inherent to the process of a developing South Africa. She has resonated with the notion of alien or outcast, the endangered species, because of her colonial history and the urban environment in which she works and resides. The dilemma of acculturation and national identity, and the debate of indigenous versus exotic set the scene for her visual narrative.

The artist has been prompted to celebrate the histories of the 'alien' trees that make up the canopy of Johannesburg. The recent felling of street trees for the development of the Rosebank node of the Gautrain Project, has allowed her to collect remnants of these tree species, which then serve as objects of advocacy in the installation of her current exhibition. Another contribution comes from a recent exhibition of her work at the Florence Biennial which deepened her awareness of heritage and change.

The artist has positioned her observations and research within the context of the symbolic narrative of the fairytale of Little Red Riding Hood. Her forest is the Jozi jungle, and the wolf is the African wild dog, lycaon pictus or 'painted wolf'. Having already explored the psycho-dynamics of the little girl's maturation in previous exhibitions, she turned her attention to the symbolic environment of the journey.

The forest that she has to navigate in her journey is translated into the context of the alien trees in Johannesburg - and, in order to parallel her African and European references with regards to the wolf in the forest, she looked for a South African equivalent. The urgent plight of the South African wild dog determined her choice. Her research prompted a genuine delight in the characteristics of this endangered life form, as well as sympathy with its disappearing history.

The exhibition also incorporates a collaborative project to which Gage has ties. Gage's involvement with the Boitumelo Womens' Group in Hillbrow has been hosted by Erica Lüttich since January 2006 with the intention of showcasing the artwork that the women have produced, in conjunction with her own, as a parallel cultural narrative, as well as a skills sharing exercise.

A lecture/walkabout will be hosted by the artist at 10am, Saturday May 13. Call (011) 489 2556 to book.

Opens: May 9
Closes: May 30

Collaborations: an exhibition of young artists at Wolmarans Gallery, Wits

A group of Wits students have come together to put on a show that is significantly more sophisticated in its conceptualisation than the average undergrad exhibition. Entitled 'Collaborations: an exhibition of young artists', the event is being put together independently of university structures, although it does have the moral support of the Wits School of Arts.

The primary focus of this group exhibition is the idea of collaboration: the prerequisite for young artists participating is that they must collaborate with another person across disciplines. This is to encourage the merging of the various media, so that painters may collaborate with photographers, sculptors with videographers. Beyond this, the young artists are encouraged to forge relationships with students and specialists from outside of the realm of Fine Arts, so that musicians, writers, lawyers, scientists and even accountants are potentially included in creative endeavours. The primary purpose of this, say the organisers, is to change a public perception of visual art as 'inaccessible and elitist'.

The opening event, which will encompass performances and interactions of various sorts, takes place at 6pm on Thursday May 10. The exhibition venue will be open on Friday May 11 and Saturday May 12 from 10am -4pm. Monday May 14 - Wednesday May 16 by appointment only.

Opens: May 10
Closes: May 16

Majak Bredell

Majak Bredell
Male Effigy 1985-86
mixed media on canvas

Majak Bredell at Fried Contemporary in Pretoria

Majak Bredell, resident in New York for about twenty years, returned to South Africa in 2002. This month she presents a show of work at Fried Contemporary in Pretoria, entitled �Majak Bredell, 2 Decades +�. This retrospective exhibition is accompanied by a catalogue, which contains an introduction written by Fried Contemporary curator Dr Elfriede Dreyer. In it she states that Bredell �abundantly explores the complexities of her subject and manages to evoke a sense of fragility and transience in her depictions of being in the world.� Dreyer also observes that the work on display, which spans twenty years of artistic production, �articulates female experiences of differing disparities, but also transgresses the boundaries of patriarchy from the inside.�

Opens: May 12
Closes: June 2

Harold Rubin

Harold Rubin
Family I 2002
acrylic on paper

Harold Rubin at Goodman Gallery

Veteran South African artist Harold Rubin presents a show of new work at the Goodman Gallery entitled �Diary Pages�. The show comprises both large scale paintings and smaller works on paper based on pages from the diary that Rubin has been keeping since childhood. He describes creating these works as the result of �an urgency to make a mark that will take me into a process of discovery about�the human animal and our amazing spirit for survival.�

This exhibition will be accompanied by the documentary of a one hour film that will be partially filmed on this exhibition. The film, entitled �A Magnificent Failure�, tells the story of Harold Rubin's life and work. After more than 4 decades of artistic creation in Israel, the film follows Harold Rubin back to Johannesburg, the wellspring of his art. This is where he grew up as a man and artist; where he sneaked into Sophiatown to play jazz with the best, printed the �Sharpeville� drawings, and was finally put on trial for�an anti-establishment work called �My Jesus�. In a strange twist of events, this trial pushed Rubin out of South Africa and into Israel. The film�s director is Rubin's daughter, Jasmine Kainy, an Israeli film-maker who grew up on his stories of Johannesburg of the early 1960's. �The film will be on distribution after October 2007.

Opens: May 26
Closes: June 16

Roger Ballen

Dungamanzi/Stirring Waters
catalogue image

Dungamanzi/Stirring Waters at the Johannesburg Art Gallery

Dungamanzi/Stirring Waters� is the tipped as the first exhibition to comprehensively celebrate and showcase Tsonga and Shangaan art, called �some of South Africa�s finest heritage objects�. This show brings an awareness of the richness of creativity, innovation and the high degree of artistic skill in the Limpopo Province and surrounding regions. It represents a geographical and cultural segment of SA�s population that have been largely absent from museum and gallery displays. With the input of artist Billy Makhubele, who collected many of the treasured pieces � particularly the colourful sangoma items � this exhibition and its accompanying catalogue are believed to create a 'living' archive. In particular it presents the Makhubele family whose story is one of resilience and survival through the political turbulence of the late nineteenth century and the difficulties of the apartheid era. Their beaded art works form a permanent record of South African history over the past few decades and capture the joy of liberation after so much suffering.

The curators of the show are Nessa Leibhammer, curator of the traditional collections at the JAG; Natalie Knight, gallery owner and art collector who has researched Tsonga-Shangaan material over the last 30 years; and Billy Makhubele, an artist and experienced field researcher.

Aside form the full colour catalogue, an educational supplement and an accompanying DVD, written by Joni Brenner of Wits University, will be available free to under-resourced schools and art institutions. It is based on the school curriculum, and can be easily integrated into classroom syllabi.

Opens: May 13
Closes: August 19

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

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.