STEVENSON in Cape Town

Polar fall fade (light green, grey, dark orange)

Olafur Eliasson
Polar fall fade (light green, grey, dark orange), Coloured glass (light green, grey, dark orange), stainless steel , 96 x 65 x 14cm

SEE LISTING Reddening of the Greens (after Itumeleng)

Kemang Wa Luhelere
Reddening of the Greens (after Itumeleng), Detail of installation in progress ,


Derek Jarman
Blue, 35mm (tape) HD file , Duration 79 min
Courtesy of Basilisk Communication Ltd

SEE LISTING Walls of Casbah II

Meleko Mokgosi
Walls of Casbah II, Inkjet and charcoal on linen , Approx 61 x 46cm each

SEE LISTING  1.629 Untitled

Zander Blom
1.629 Untitled, Oil on linen , 240 x 190cm
© Copyright 2014, STEVENSON. All rights reserved.


Buchanan Building, 160 Sir Lowry Road, Woodstock, 7925


Hours: Monday to Friday 09:00 - 17:00 | Saturday 10:00 - 13:00 | Closed Sunday and public holidays


Olafur Eliasson at STEVENSON in Cape Town

STEVENSON is pleased to present 'Space Minding', the first solo exhibition by Olafur Eliasson to take place in South Africa.

Eliasson is a Danish-Icelandic artist known for sculptures and large-scale installation artworks that employ elemental materials such as light, water and earth. In 1997, he participated in the second Johannesburg Biennale with the urban intervention 'Erosion', in which he turned a water reservoir into a running stream that stretched 1.5 kilometres through the city.

At Stevenson, Eliasson will present a group of works focused on light. Mono scanner (2004) consists of a cylindrical Fresnel lens, mounted horizontally on a rotating pedestal, which casts a single, narrow beam of light onto the floor, walls and ceiling of a room. As the lens rotates around the horizontal axis, the vertically oriented band of light sweeps slowly across the surfaces of the room, giving the impression that the band of light is emitted from the lens not as a disc but in the shape of the room's rectangular cross-section. A single rotation takes approximately one minute and 30 seconds.

In a second room, he will exhibit works from his Polar fall fade series: each consists of three coloured glass panes, supported on a wall rack, with a different elliptical cut-out in each pane. The overlapping ellipses create a variety of colour saturations and tones. Hand-blown by artisans in one of the few remaining glassworks capable of producing sheets of this quality and size, the glass exhibits visible bubbles and variations throughout. The works extend the artist's interest in creating pigments and visual effects through the superimposition of coloured, transparent layers. The visitor oscillates between viewing the piece head-on, gaining the complete colour spectrum of the combined panes, and from the side, revealing the depth and construction of the layers. In this oscillation, the focus fades from the colours to the objects that produce them and then back to the colours.

Eliasson was born in 1967 and lives and works in Copenhagen and Berlin. He grew up in Iceland and Denmark and studied, from 1989 to 1995, at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts. In 1995, he moved to Berlin and founded Studio Olafur Eliasson, which today encompasses some 75 craftsmen, specialised technicians, architects, archivists, administrators, programmers, art historians and cooks. Since the mid-1990s, Eliasson has realised numerous major exhibitions and projects around the world.

22 January 2015 - 28 February 2015

Kemang Wa Luhelere at STEVENSON in Cape Town

STEVENSON is pleased to present Kemang Wa Lehulere's second solo exhibition with the gallery, his first in the Cape Town space. Wa Lehulere is the 2015 Standard Bank Young Artist for Visual Art.

Titled To whom it may concern, Wa Lehulere's exhibition is a direct and indirect response to a work by Chieko (Mieko) Shiomi (b 1938), a Japanese artist with links to the Fluxus movement, whose Spatial Poems comprised instructions for small interventions as well as reports on these actions by participants. Taking his cue from Spatial Poem No 3 (Falling Event), Wa Lehulere suggests forms of falling, both literally and metaphorically, and connects various real events/moments, time and distance in a non-linear manner. He will utilise sculpture, video and other mediums to excavate pasts, both static and malleable, existent and imaginative, instructive and fantastical in this new body of work.

22 January 2015 - 28 February 2015

Group Show at STEVENSON in Cape Town

STEVENSON is pleased to present its summer 2014 exhibition, 'Chroma'.

The blood of sensibility is blue.
I consecrate myself
To find its most perfect expression.
- Derek Jarman

The exhibition takes its title from a book of musings on colour by filmmaker Derek Jarman. Written just before his death in 1994, when his vision was failing, the book draws from art history, philosophy, science, medicine and literature, alongside Jarman's acute observations of his own life, to reflect the extraordinary multiplicity of ways in which colour is experienced and comprehended by the human eye and mind. The exhibition sets out to explore colour from diverse perspectives, and various quotations cited here are extracted from his text.

Learning that colour is a fiction of light is one of the primary shocks of growing up.
- Tacita Dean, 'The Magic Hour'

Science declares colour to be an expression of vibration and wavelength: what we see is determined by the spectrum of light that an object absorbs or reflects, as perceived by the human mind and eye. Colour as we experience it is a phenomenon of perception, as colour itself does not have a physical and tangible materiality. This seeming paradox ensures that colour is grist for the philosopher's mill, prompting metaphysical questions about the nature of both physical reality and the construct of mind. Yet, because colour can only be perceived through the prism of mind, it is simultaneously, and inextricably, poetic and psychological; rarely do we speak about colour without invoking the realms of emotion and of meaning.

Red. Prime colour. Red of my childhood. Blue and green were always there in the sky and woodland unnoticed. Red first shouted at me from a bed of pelargoniums in the courtyard of Villa Zuassa. I was four. This red had no boundary, was not contained. These red flowers stretched to the horizon.
- Derek Jarman

The symbolism and metaphorical significance of colour has been contemplated since the dawn of artistic expression; however, in Western art history colour only become a subject in itself early in the 20th century. Malevich's Black Square, painted a century ago, in 1915, is perhaps the most radical manifestation of a shift that allowed more conceptual and abstract notions, including those of colour, to become part of the subjectivity of art. The scientific approach to the aesthetics of colour was arguably most carefully articulated in the work of Josef Albers, whose series of paintings of chromatic interactions started in 1949 and who published his theoretical treatise, The Interaction of Colour, in 1963, arguing that the perception of colour is governed by an internal and deceptive logic.

If one says 'red' (the name of a colour) and there are fifty people listening it can be expected there will be fifty reds in their minds, and one can be sure that all these reds will be different.
- Josef Albers

At the time of these aesthetic debates about colour and subject in the 1950s and 60s, South Africa was dominated by apartheid, which limited conceptual considerations of colour as subject: racial classification brought the focus to issues of black and white, literary and figuratively. It is interesting that in the 1990s the analogy of the rainbow, with its spectrum of colours, has been widely used to heal the fractures in this society, and in recent years the shifts that have taken place have allowed more spacious considerations of the experience of colour in art. This exhibition presents both works that see colour as their primary leitmotif and others that, often with new strategies, reflect on the politics of colour in recent years.

27 November 2014 - 17 January 2015

Paul Mpagi Sepuya, Teju Cole, Meleko Mokgosi , Njideka Akunyili Crosby and Wangechi Mutu at STEVENSON in Cape Town

Today Brooklyn, as Kings County is more commonly known, counts 2.5 million inhabitants, measures 474 square kilometres, and by itself would be the fourth largest city in the United States if it was not part of New York. It traces its roots back to Breuckelen, a 17th century settlement established by the Dutch West India Company, named after a city in the Netherlands. In 1664 the English gained control of the territory, and in 1684 they combined Breuckelen with five other former Dutch towns into Kings County, establishing a political entity which survives to this day.

Brooklyn is a place of immigrants, its demographics ever shifting. Complex layers of class are superimposed on both historical and newly established ethnic enclaves. Because everybody who lives there is, in some way, from somewhere else, it has been a theatre of imagination and invention, and Brooklyn as an idea, or a metaphor, has been as important in this process as its physical characteristics. Perhaps as a result, it has attracted an urban creative community of a nature and scale not seen elsewhere in New York - a community that, in turn, has affected the idea of Brooklyn in real and imaginary ways. Brooklyn is often associated with gang violence and artisanal food, but its lived experience is infinitely more complex, and resists such narratives as much as it invites them.

The term Kings County is unfamiliar to many outside New York, and its archaic, colonial associations suggest an imaginary place. The artists in this exhibition are all, in different ways, invested in this imaginary place, and use the idea of Brooklyn as a backdrop to the making of their art. Nigerian writer Teju Cole, who contributes an essay to the exhibition catalogue, describes Brooklyn, specifically its Fort Greene section, as the only place on the planet where he does not stand out. Moreover, he says that the friendships he has forged in the borough have allowed him to imagine an Africa unburdened by the artificial borders imposed by the Berlin Conference.

For Wangechi Mutu Brooklyn was a place to live while getting an education in Manhattan, and now it has become her second home. Meleko Mokgosi was specifically drawn to Sunset Park and its history of manufacturing, as well as its large South American population. Curiously, the other two artists have left the neighbourhood since the exhibition was conceived, or are in the process of leaving. Paul Mpagi Sepuya and Njideka Akunyili Crosby are both moving to Los Angeles this year, but often reflect the timbre of Brooklyn social life in their work.

On one level, ‘Kings County’ is about four immigrants (from Botswana, Kenya, Nigeria and California) in a place of many immigrants. More fundamentally, however, Kings County is about the symbolic potential of geographic locations - about how imaginary places can affect the real world, and vice versa.

09 October 2014 - 22 November 2014

Zander Blom at STEVENSON in Cape Town

STEVENSON is pleased to present an exhibition of new paintings by Zander Blom.
Blom writes:
It's solo exhibition time again and with it comes the unescapable task of writing an artist statement.

This, to be honest, fills me with dread. The usual questions are floating about the room, nagging at me while I paint during the day. Yes I know the act of writing something will clarify things that are just moods or vague feelings right now. Yes it will give me a slightly zoomed out view of where I am in this moment in time. But I don't want to hear it. I'm in a strange schizophrenic moment and I want to crawl around inside it. The press release looms over my head for weeks - it says: "Hey man, just write me. I'll give you some perspective, put things in context..." I say to it: 'Fuck off with your 'context' and your tired art jargon. Leave me alone. Let me be gross and obscure and delicate and pedantic and a brute and irrelevant... and... what-the-fuck-is-that? What am I looking at? What is that lump? It's creeping me out... Great! That's perfect! Let's add some green... No yellow.. No pink... No no no no... Brown!

"This makes no sense," whispers the artist statement.
"Of course it does you stupid animal" I hiss back.

This game goes on for weeks, till the yapping reaches such a point of irritation that I eventually force myself to sit down and write the damn thing out. To pin it down. To shut it up. For the first hour or so I fill the page with angry knee-jerk reactions. These I mostly delete, because like a child that goes into a bath kicking and screaming the screams and sobs generally tend to subside once the realisation of already being in the bath sets in. This phenomena coincides with noticing that it's actually quite nice and warm in this bath.

I'm looking around the room... There are instruments and books in here and the computer... Let's start with the computer. As I'm typing this, a two hour free-form music session from earlier tonight is rendering out just behind this window on the screen. On the screen I see purple, green, orange, light-blue, grey and red-brown bars of sound in layers. In the last week I have noticed a similarity between some of the marks on canvas and the arrangements of the recorded sounds. The white bright screen and the various open windows may also correspond with some of the crude white rectangles I've been painting. But it's too soon to know, something about digital space perhaps... no... it's much more primitive, more cave man... more Battiss... and Rothko maybe? I don't think I'll pin it down any further than that. Currently it's there, stapled to the table, flopping about. If I keep stabbing at it will surely die and quickly turn trite, contrived, lifeless and become uninteresting. I'm going to let it go free.

Through the corridor in the room behind me is a large canvas with crude colour rectangles and odd shapes. I watched a video-podcast about a retrospective of Matisse's colour cutouts a couple of days ago. I started this arrangement shortly after seeing that video. I also found a reproduction of another Matisse cut-out that I stuck to the wall over a year ago. Seems like I've been meaning to break things up/apart into big crude shapes, but the moment to do so has only now arrived. This may lead to a large series of works or perhaps only a few. Before I know it I'll find myself working on something else. To complicate the writing of this press release, I currently find myself going back and forth between radically different types of work from one moment to the next. Yesterday I thought I was done with one thing, now I'm back at it. I tell myself this: if you wanted to be bored and slavishly repeating yourself you could have chosen virtually any other profession. So the mantra becomes: 'I'll do it only if I don't know what I'm doing'. Because that will most likely be more interesting and exciting than anything I could have planned out or conceived of.

My painting practice is driven by finding new tools and developing new techniques. Currently my techniques rely heavily on palette knives and the paint tube itself. When working with oil straight from the tube you are limited to the available premixed colours. So I have had to develop home made devices that mimic the factory tubes in the form of altered medical injections. Now I can mix any colour and make it look like it came straight from the factory out of a tube and onto the canvas! I find the drawings of many painters to be more interesting than their paintings. In order to resolve a composition spontaneity is often a necessary sacrifice. So it is understandable that a composition can loose much of its life and energy by the time ends up on canvas. I've drawn on canvas before to try and avoid this but it never really worked to my satisfaction. I've used other techniques to try and make work that is loose, alive and still crisp, but now the modified syringes has led to the ability to control the nozzle size. This has finally opened up a way to make perfect solid line drawings with oil on canvas of various widths. This allows me to do things that are impossible with a brush or an oil stick. There is also a new palette knife that I'm enjoying using. It has tiny teeth and makes these shell/scallop type marks. It gives me contour lines and a gradient in a single scoop. I'm following it down its own rabbit hole. I've also started producing my own palette knives to sculpt with in, hopefully, interesting new ways, and I've started bleaching some canvases with household bleach.

Lets put some more warm water in this bath...
For the sake of consistency it may be time to take a quick look at the last press release from 2013. Yes, long windy roads, piano sonatas and all that. I feel much younger than I did last year, less mature even, I may actually have devolved. It's kind of what I hoped for, but it also just sort of happened. I spend a lot of time each day in my tiny music room teaching myself how to not play the guitar. The music I'm recording at the moment is equally as raw and schizophrenic as the paintings. The two seem to be edging each other on, like two unruly teenagers. The act of playing the music loosens my inhibitions, and takes quite a lot of physical energy which allows me to feel a certain satisfaction and release. This helps me to not overwork paintings that come out loose and wild purely because I feel that I haven't exerted enough physical labour in order to justify their merit. In short, a trick to keep a rational, domineering brain at bay. In return with painting I'm plastering paint onto the raw linen in various shapes with a big palette knife in a very crude haphazard way, similar in approach to my free-form punk experiments. When I think about what's going on in the main painting room it feels like a child colouring in massive drawings with a trowel and coloured cement... browns and green and red and purple and lemon yellow and cobalt blue and black... I see bits of Matisse, Rothko, Klee, Picasso, etc, all floating or crawling around on the canvases. Sometimes they play nicely, other times they fight each other for space or dominance.

Anyway. Much of this may not even be important or relevant to the show. There is still plenty of work to be done and by the time everything is finished, selected and sent off, these thoughts may already be completely outdated.

28 August 2014 - 04 October 2014