Archive: Issue No. 130, June 2008

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Zander Blom

Zander Blom
Untitled (48; Bedroom 2, Wall 1) 2007
photographic print

Zander Blom

Zander Blom
Untitled (60: Corridor, Corners 2 and 3) 2007
photographic print

Zander Blom

Zander Blom
Untitled (69: Bedroom 1, Corner 2) 2007
photographic print

Zander Blom

Zander Blom
Untitled (71: Bedroom 1, Corner 2) 2007
photographic print

Zander Blom

Zander Blom
Untitled (73: Corridor, Corner 2 and Ceiling) 2007
photographic print

Zander Blom
by Michael Smith (June, 2008)


Zander Blom is a Johannesburg-based artist who utilizes painting, drawing, assemblage sculpture, and, crucially, photography, to interrogate received ideas about creative endeavour and Modernism in Africa. Typically, Blom creates modular units of mark, shape and form in paint, printmaking and assemblage, which are configured, photographed, reconfigured and photographed again. These photographs are always staged in Blom's shabbily chic Brixton home, usually in the corners between the pressed ceiling and the white walls.

Blom's exhibited work seems to span the full gambit of his process: finished product photographs are exhibited alongside the printed or made shapes, as well as with piles of detritus that presumably echo those around his studio/home.

The visual elements of Blom's painted, drawn and printed images are undeniably slick: robust black dominates, and shapes are razor-sharp as if machined. Targets, blocks and rectangles are replicated, becoming base units in visual constructions. The constructed-ness of the whole is signalled by the iconic nature of its parts. Even the ragged, irregular shards of black that emanate from the centres of certain groups have a crispness that marks them as unmistakably Blom images. Yet this is no mere aesthetic tinkering: as What If The World gallerist Justin Rhodes states in an article by Sean O'Toole in the December 2007 Business Day Art Supplement, Blom's work is 'very identifiable and strong, well thought-out and conceived, not just edgy graphic imagery.'


'I'm interested in exploring some aspects of the avant garde art movements of the 20th Century that I find compelling. Examples of this include the super optimism, idealism and seriousness of Mondrian and De Stijl, the striving towards revolution and progress that characterises movements like Constructivism, and the glorification of modernisation which Futurism is know for.

My exploration has to do with trying to understand Modernism from the perspective of a young person living in Johannesburg, South Africa, at the dawn of the 21st Century - a position which is very much dislocated in time, space, and ideology from what it attempts to investigate. The works which I made in the last four years either directly mimic selected visual qualities of modernist related subjects, or comment in some way on the various ideologies of art movements of the 20th Century.'

Interview with Michael Smith, published in ArtThrob, September 2007


Emily Verla Bovino, writing on the Artforum website,, said of Blom's work:

'Withdrawing to an old town house in Brixton, Johannesburg-based artist Zander Blom makes and photographs installations reminiscent of Merzbau, Kurt Schwitters's destroyed �gcathedral of erotic misery.�h Complex collages of jutting foamcore triangles and cartoon clouds, as in Untitled or the Boulevard, Bedroom 1, Corner 2, 5:11 PM, Friday, 1 June 2007, climb the walls and extend across the tin ceilings of Blom's home.'


Mary Corrigall, writing in SA's Sunday Independent in November 2007, said:

'Blom... recounts how, as a young artist living in South Africa, his grasp on Modernism has been mediated, thus compounding his estrangement from this once avant-garde movement that turned the visual arts on its head at the turn of the last century.

His references to modernism are self-evident; using the walls and ceiling of his Brixton abode, Blom made bold experiments with form that mimic the art of the likes of Jackson Pollock and Piet Mondrian. These "experiments" are then photographed and, while they also appear in a book which he considers the final product, it is the photographs of his structural experiments that make up the exhibition. Blom explains that the artworks at this exhibition, entitled The Drain of Progress, are part of a process of trying to conjure up the experience of being the author of an avant-garde movement, thereby bridging the gap between the past and the here and now.'

Sean O'Toole said, in the December 2007 quarterly art supplement to the Business Day:

'Early in 2005, while mucking about with his ink and paper creations for a small group exhibition, Blom realised most of his youthful ambitions were "lame and redundant". He also recognised his dislike of "ambitious art" - being art that is "monumental or profound".

So he decided to spend more time at home.

"It was about living and working, about appreciating literature, music and art as much as it was about producing my own pointless scribbles," writes Blom in his catalogue, titled The Drain of Progress. "I was quite happy to lock myself up in my house and make random marks and words on paper."'


Blom has work on the major curated Winter show at Cape Town's Michael Stevenson, entitled 'Disguise'. The show, curated by Joost Bosland, deals with visual art explorations of strategies of revealing and concealing. Blom's photographic works on the show are from the same body of work as his 2007 blockbuster show at Rooke Gallery, 'The Drain of Progress'.


Work by Blom featured prominently on the Rooke Gallery stand at the Johannesburg Art Fair in March 2008, held at the Sandton Convention Centre. Work by Blom also featured on the '.ZA.Young Art From South Africa' exhibition at the Centre for Contemporary Art in Siena, Italy, during February 2008.


In September 2007, Blom's show 'The Drain of Progress' opened at Rooke Gallery in Newtown, Johannesburg. It proved to be a career-defining moment for this young artist, with Blom's work being featured on the next cover of the quarterly Art South Africa, and being named one of the magazine's 'Bright Young Things for 2007.

The show was accompanied by the launch of a book, The Drain of Progress: a Catalogue Raisonné. The show and book launch travelled to Cape Town's What If The World / Gallery in early 2008.


'The Drain of Progress' exhibition will also travel to Ferreira Projects in London during July 2008. There, it will show alongside Cape Town artist Julia Rosa Clark's 'Hypocrite's Lament'; both these bodies of work appear there in association with What If The World / Gallery.


Solo exhibitions

2008 The Drain of Progress: Exhibition and launch of The Drain of Progress: a Catalogue Raisonné, WHATIFTHEWORLD/GALLERY, Cape Town, May

2007 'The Drain of Progress' and launch of The Drain of Progress: a Catalogue Raisonné, Rooke Gallery, Johannesburg, September

2006 'Sounds and Pictures', Premises Gallery, Johannesburg, July

Selected group exhibitions

2008 'Disguise', Michael Stevenson Gallery, Cape Town, South Africa, May 2008

'.ZA Young Art from South Africa', Palazzo Delle Papesse, Centre for Contemporary Art, Sienna, Italy, February

2007 Paper Placemats (ATL), ACP Public Art Program, curated by Jason Fulford. Presented with J & L Books, Atlanta, USA, October
SAME PLACES, group exhibition curated by Maja Marx, Aardklop, Potchefstroom, South Africa, September
2006 TEN, Exhibition and publication , Society of Photographers, The Premises Gallery, Johannesburg, South Africa
'All creatures great and small', group show, WHATIFTHEWORLD / GALLERY, Cape Town, South Africa, October
2005 'BMW Showroom', group show, Metro Lab, Johannesburg, South Africa, July
DWG, group show, Outlet Gallery, Tshwane University of Technology, Pretoria, South Africa, March
'Group Therapy', group exhibition and publication, Sandton Civic Gallery, Johannesburg, South Africa, March
2004 '...etc.' (part 2), group show, ArtCoZa Gallery, Johannesburg, South Africa October
'...etc.' (part 1), group show, Artspace, Johannesburg, South Africa, February


Sanell Aggenbach
(Sept 2005)

Alan Alborough
(July 2000)

Jane Alexander
(July 1999)

Siemon Allen
(June 2001)

Bridget Baker
(March 2006)

Emma Bedford
(March 2007)

Willie Bester
(Aug 1999)

Ralph Borland
(Jan 2006)

Willem Boshoff
(Aug 2001)

Conrad Botes
(Dec 2001)

Andries Botha
(April 2000)

Wim Botha
(April 2003)

Kevin Brand
(June 1998)

Candice Breitz
(Oct 1998)

Lisa Brice
(Jan 1999)

Lisa Brice
(Oct 2007)

Jean Brundrit
(March 2004)

Angela Buckland
(Mar 2003)

Pitso Chinzima
(Oct 2001)

Marco Cianfanelli
(Aug 2002)

Julia Rosa Clark
(July 2005)

Peter Clarke
(Sept 2003)

Steven Cohen
(May 1998)

Keith Deitrich
(July 2004)

Marlene Dumas
(Dec 2007)

Paul Edmunds
(Feb 2004)

Leora Farber
(May 2002)

Bronwen Findlay
(April 2002)

Bronwen Findlay
(Sept 2006)

Pierre Fouché
(Sept 2007)

Tracy Lindner Gander
(April 2004)

Kendell Geers
(June 2002)

Linda Givon
(Dec 1999)

David Goldblatt
(Dec 2002)

Thembinkosi Goniwe
(Oct 2002)

Frances Goodman
(Aug 2006)

Dan Halter
(July 2007)

Brad Hammond
(Jan 2001)

Randolph Hartzenberg
(Aug 1998)

Kay Hassan
(Oct 2000)

Matthew Hindley
(Sept 2004)

Nicholas Hlobo
(June 2006)

Stephen Hobbs
(Dec 1998)

Robert Hodgins
(June 2000)

Pieter Hugo
(April 2006)

William Kentridge
(Nov 2007)

William Kentridge
(May 1999)

Isaac Khanyile
(Nov 2001)

David Koloane
(July 2003)

Dorothee Kreutzfeld
(Jan 2000)

Terry Kurgan
(Aug 2000)

Moshekwa Langa
(Feb 1999)

Chris Ledochowski
(June 2003)

Kim Lieberman
(May 2003)

Mandla Mabila
(Aug 2001)

Churchill Madikida
(May 2004)

Veronique Malherbe
(June 1999)

Mustafa Maluka
(July 1998)

Thando Mama
(June 2004)

Senzeni Marasela
(Feb 2000)

Colbert Mashile
(May 2006)

Brent Meistre
(May 2005)

Santu Mofokeng
(July 2002)

Anthea Moys
(May 2008)

Zwelethu Mthethwa
(April 1999)

Samson Mudzunga
(Oct 2004)

Zanele Muholi
(Dec 2006)

Thomas Mulcaire
(April 2001)

Brett Murray
(Sept 1998)

Hylton Nel
(Feb 2002)

Karel Nel
(Oct 1999)

Sam Nhlengethwa
(Oct 2003)

Walter Oltmann
(July 2001)

Jay Pather
(Dec 2004)

Malcolm Payne
(Nov 2002)

Tracy Payne
(March 1998)

Peet Pienaar
(Dec 2000)

Andrew Putter
(Feb 2008)

Jo Ractliffe
(Mar 1999)

Robin Rhode
(Nov 1999)

Colin Richards
(Aug 2003)

Tracey Rose
(March 2001)

Ruth Sacks
(Oct 2006)

Claudette Schreuders
(Sept 2000)

Berni Searle
(May 2000)

Berni Searle
(Jan 2003)

Usha Seejarim
(May 2001)

Penny Siopis
(Sept 1999)

Cecil Skotnes
(July 2006)

Kathryn Smith
(Dec 2003)

Dave Southwood
(March 2002)

Doreen Southwood
(Sept 2002)

Nathaniel Stern
(Feb 20006)

Greg Streak
(Feb 2001)

Mikhael Subotzky
(Aug 2007)

Guy Tillim
(Jan 2005)

Clive van den Berg
(Nov 1998)

Hentie van der Merwe
(Mar 2000)

Strijdom van der Merwe
(Jan 2002)

Storm Janse van Rensburg
(June 2005)

Minnette Vári
(Feb 1998)

Nontsikelelo 'Lolo' Veleko
(Feb 2007)

Andrew Verster
(May 2007)

Diane Victor
(Feb 2003)

Vuyile Voyiya
(Aug 2005)

Jeremy Wafer
(Nov 2000)

James Webb
(Aug 2004)

Sue Williamson
(Nov 2003)

Ed Young
(Nov 2005)

Billie Zangewa
(June 2007)

Mlu Zondi
(Nov 2006)