CTAF 2015

Res Gallery


Michael Smith
Shift, Exhibition Invitation ,

SEE LISTING States of Head

André S Clements
States of Head, Archival print on 300gsm rag paper , 100 x 100 cm

SEE LISTING Offence and Seduction

Carol Nathan Levin and Frederick Clarke
Offence and Seduction, exhibition poster ,


Christo Doherty
BOS Poster, archival print on rag paper , 70 x 70cm


Andy Robertson
Helen Zille, archival print on rag paper , 569 x 835mm


Shop 4, 140 Jan Smuts Avenue, Parkwood, Johannesburg.


Hours: Tue. - Fri. 9.30am - 5pm Sat. 9.30am - 2.30pm


Michael Smith at Res Gallery

Sometime in 1987, while in High School in the small, rather backwards Natal town of Ladysmith, I was herded into the school hall with my peers for a weekly assembly.

Ladysmith was a cultural wasteland; no theatre, no movie theatre, radios barely able to catch Casey Kasem’s American Top 40 on 702 on a Sunday night; DEFINITELY no record shops.

Nonetheless, I was 14 going on 15; the first awakenings of what would become a lifelong obsession with rock music had begun to stir, in my head and elsewhere in my body. My good friend John Barnard had just introduced me to the Sex Pistols, The Sugarcubes, Joy Division and The Clash. The first 5 bars of ‘Anarchy in the UK’ were probably the most thrilling cultural experience I’ve ever had.

At this assembly, the usual parade of teachers and heads trooping onto the stage at the beginning of the session was foregone. Instead, the sight of a set of turntables and large speakers greeted us.

Now this was the late 80s: the entire notion of entertaining school pupils was completely foreign. Pupils had to be subjugated, subdued, and frequently told they were wrong. (This pervasive Calvinist mentality didn’t stop the local girls and boys from sexing up a storm: at one stage the Standard 9 and 10 groups took to calling Ladysmith High School ‘the baby factory’, because of the huge numbers of pregnancies amongst the senior girls. The idea that so many of those ‘skynheilige’ [sanctimonious] matrics up on their balcony would be singing ‘Praise, my soul, the King of Heaven’ on Friday mornings, and  ripping their clothes off at the drive-inn on Friday nights, introduced me to the notion of contradiction.)

So we knew the turntables weren’t a cause for celebration.

A travelling pastor, Afrikaans but with a good command of English, came on the mic. He started, “Rock ‘n Roll is the Devil’s music. And in the next hour, I’ll show you why.”

Pastor Jim (it seems like a reasonable name: I honestly can’t remember that far back), spent the next 60 minutes quoting song lyrics, referencing band names and showing slides of album covers, all to track the alleged Satanism and anti-Christianity of popular music (predominantly heavy rock, but Queen got a mention, too). The tirade (and this was a tirade to make a Bible Belt Baptist quake in his loafers: spittle flying, fists bashing on wooden surfaces, New Testament verses thick on the ground), culminated in a demonstration of the dangers lurking for us in backmasked music.

Backmasking is the infamous practice of placing hidden messages in reversed tracks of popular or rock music. As early as 1982 in the USA, the religious right (as it would come to be known) was leading the charge against this perceived scourge. Whether overt in their challenge to Christianity (Black Sabbath, Judas Priest, Mercyful Fate), or more standard-issue libertine of ilk (Queen, Madonna, Led Zeppelin), the good pastor spun their records forwards and then backwards, revealing to a thoroughly malleable audience that rock and pop artists had, as their main goal, the winning of our souls for the Devil.

Variously horrified, guilt-stricken, but almost to-a-man convinced, the student body made a hushed retreat from the hall. Many pledged there and then to destroy their record and tape collections; to foreswear Madonna, Queen, and especially Black Sabbath, because Jesus needed them to. An eternity in damnation seems like a big ask for listening to some records.

(A week later, in a Friday assembly, I saw a guy in my standard, Kevin Buchler, had scratched out all the Gods and Heavens in his hymn pamphlet and written ‘Satan’ and ‘Hell’ in their place.)

Cut to the early 2000s, when I started working at Trinityhouse High School in Johannesburg; the tirades against pop culture had morphed into something more nuanced, more strategic. We hated television, we hated the blasphemy of movies, but some concessions had been made... 

Assemblies had Pentecostal-style praise-‘n-worship sessions, replete with a rock band, emphatic love songs to the Lord and hands-aloft audience members. Christianity had, it seemed come to embrace rock’s language, its cues, its emotional triggers, its crowd-pleasing mannerisms, with aplomb. Youth pastors from Rhema and other charismatic churches visited regularly, looking for all the world like wannabe rock stars; being cool, looking edgy had become ‘tools of ministry’.


‘Shift’, my latest body of work, explores this overlap between rock and contemporary Christianity. The work seems to ask whether ideologies should ever be believed, given how interchangeable their moralities are. The work attempts to explore ideas of control and surrender, and how Christianity came to accept an emotive, sexualised set of representations in order to capitalise on an increasingly secularized culture.

15 June 2013 - 15 August 2013

André S Clements at Res Gallery

The debut solo exhibition from Johannesburg artist Andre Clements presents a bold progression from single-exposure fine-art portraiture, to more complex and abstract works formed by meticulous multi-layering and selective alignments facilitated by computational technology.
Starting with single layers, Clements presents a glimpse of the aesthetic process-experience of several of artists, featuring Minette Vari, Wayne Barker, Alexandra Ross, Dianne Victor and Frikkie Eksteen. Then comes the multiple-layer work, including both individual and composite ‘portraits’ and more.

The technique that Clements uses results in an effect that could be described as holographic; an eerie creation of a new individual ‘identity’ that emerges from the characteristics common to a particular collective, or, where there is a single model, a collection of moments and moods. The composite portrait of the Baroque composers is visually distinct and has a completely different ‘personality’ from that of the composers from the Romantic era, for example; while the single image of the 100 bridges from the West rand to the East Rand and back evokes a typical (to the point of becoming archetypal) Gauteng experience.

Moving beyond the self-reflexive focus on the art world and its processes, ‘State of Head’ is a composite portrait of South African Premiers: PW Botha, FW De Klerk, Nelson Mandela, Thabo Mbeki, Kgalema Mothlante and Jacob Zuma, created from a total of 12 images. The artist’s portrayal of screen writer Thandi Brewer as Muse-mother Mnemosyne comprises 26 nude photographs, while the final piece in ‘The Composers’ series shows us the face of the ‘average’ modern classical composer, an epic work that interweaves no less than individual 1280 layers.

The collection as a whole catalyses a re-investigation of the ordinary, a re-awakening of perception. According to Clements: ‘Æsthesia’ is about perception and sensation, literally sense-ability. Æsthesia, in contrast to anaesthesia and numbness, is like an essence of aesthetics and the sublime that we crave in culture and life.’

27 October 2012 - 31 January 2013

Carol Nathan Levin and Frederick Clarke at Res Gallery

Humans generally have a twisted, almost irreverent, understanding of female genitalia. We tend to view it as a purely sensual and sexual part of the body, rather than embrace its reproductive nature. Women are often blighted by a heavily patriarchal definition of their own sexuality, which has been tainted with ideas of shame, dirtiness and secrecy, and which attempts to negate the vagina’s existence, rather than embracing its centrality to human life and its inherent beauty. Frederick Clarke notes that there is a reason that 'we refer to Mother Earth as a feminine energy, cyclic and malleable, moving with a natural flux that both allows and ultimately destroys constructed rigidity.'

Carol Nathan Levin deals with the painful aftermath of removing her ovaries to reduce the risk of ovarian cancer. Her approach is that 'something comes from nothing, out of the void; one comes out of zero, we as woman contain the nothing'. With this exhibition both artists attempt to demystify female genitalia, and correct the imbalance in which we all live through their approaches, which foreground beauty, mystery and femininity.

05 June 2012 - 28 July 2012

Christo Doherty at Res Gallery

Through the use of constructed photographs based on images from the media coverage of the time, Doherty explores the effect on the national psyche of apartheid SA's border wars.

15 January 2011 - 12 March 2011

Andy Robertson at Res Gallery

Andy Robertson's exhibition of new work at Resolution Gallery explores the medium of the poster as a tool for provoking public controversy. Taking aim at big personalities on our political scene, such as Helen Zille, Julius Malema and the late Eugene Terre'Blanche, Robertson deftly turns their own publicity-seeking strategies against them.

03 August 2010 - 10 October 2010