SMAC Art Gallery 02

STEVENSON in Johannesburg

Proposition 1

Deborah Poynton
Proposition 1 , Oil on canvas , 230 x 190cm

SEE LISTING Found not Taken, Luanda

Edson Chagas
Found not Taken, Luanda, C-print ,

SEE LISTING 1876 (On the Penny-Farthing)

Samson Kambalu
1876 (On the Penny-Farthing), Digital video, colour ,

SEE LISTING Mame-Diarra Niang, Détail du mur #3

Mame Diarra Niang
Mame-Diarra Niang, Détail du mur #3, Inkjet pigment print ,

SEE LISTING Silence: Studio Study XII

Serge Alain Nitegeka
Silence: Studio Study XII, Paint on wood , 182 x 122 x 7.5 cm
© Copyright 2014, STEVENSON. All rights reserved.


62 Juta Street, Braamfontein Johannesburg

Hours: Monday - Friday 09:00 - 17:00 Saturday 10:00 - 13:00


Deborah Poynton at STEVENSON in Johannesburg

STEVENSON is pleased to present Deborah Poynton's seventh solo exhibition with the gallery, 'Scenes of a Romantic Nature'.

Poynton will exhibit 21 large canvases and, for the first time, two series of corresponding drawings. This new body of work reflects her assertion that: 'Art is an offering, a show that mirrors the show we form around ourselves as we move through our scenery. Art is always artful, a ruse, a trick. It is part of the dream that we inhabit.'

In the painting series 'Scenes of a Romantic Nature', she continues her investigation into 17th to 19th century European painting, with particular focus on the works of German Romantic landscape painter Caspar David Friedrich. Poynton's signature scenes constructed with elements cut from the world around us - flora and fauna, man-made objects, people and natural environments - are saturated with colour and detail; these canvases function as pictures to be looked at, or scenes for observation, rather than worlds to be entered.

A related series of 'Proposition' paintings is rooted in her research into Ukiyo-e Japanese woodblock prints, literally 'pictures of the floating world'. In vast fields of white canvas, Poynton experiments further with attention to detail and the calligraphic action of mark-making. Deposits of pure colour read like descriptions of micro-worlds, as intense as the 'Scenes of a Romantic Nature' but suggesting a more essential treatment that is equivalent in conceptual content and rigour.

Seen together and interlinked, the two series compound what Poynton has always suggested, that for her 'there is a great emptiness in every kind of image. A finished, perfected work remains as insubstantial as the slight lines that first form a proposition on the canvas. All images are just propositions, in that they show up the difficulty we have in perceiving the world except through the filter of ourselves.'

In the series of drawings 'Scenes of a Romantic Nature', Poynton focuses on landscapes, natural scenes and close-ups of figures, building up the surface with a meticulous attention to detail, but with a deep sense of the subject's unfathomable distance. In the Proposition drawings, her lines lie scattered across the paper as if detached from any origin in the real world. Poynton communicates her attraction to the distant and the detached with a quote from the author John Banville who, she believes, best captures the mystery of perception:

Sometimes the beauty of things, ordinary things - those unseen flowers, this burnished foliage, the honeyed sunlight on the pavement at her feet - pressed in upon her urgently while at the same time the things themselves seemed to hold back, at one remove, as if there was an invisible barrier between her and the world. (John Banville, writing as Benjamin Black, 'The Silver Swan')

12 February 2015 - 20 March 2015

Edson Chagas at STEVENSON in Johannesburg

For 'Found Not Taken', Chagas walked through the streets of Luanda, London and Newport, Wales, collecting discarded objects and moving them, at times slightly and in other instances significantly, before photographing them. Taken out of their context and photographed in relation to a carefully chosen background, the mundane items are turned into abstract icons that animate the city. What might seem at first glance a symbol of a society characterized by waste and instant obsolescence is also a reflection on the fact that what is perceived as real is actually a construct. A selection from the series represented Angola at the 55th Venice Biennale, winning the Golden Lion for Best National Participation.

The artist employs a similar approach in 'Tipo Passe', in which he stages portraits of models wearing traditional African masks borrowed from a private collection. As in Found Not Taken, the artefacts have been extrapolated from their history and context; the sitters are dressed in contemporary clothes from street markets, complementing the colours and forms of the masks. These objects with immense ritual meaning and a compelling presence are suspended between worlds and prompt the viewer to question the reality of what he or she is perceiving.

11 November - 20 December 2014;?12 January - 6 February 2015

11 November 2014 - 06 February 2015

Samson Kambalu at STEVENSON in Johannesburg

STEVENSON is pleased to announce a solo exhibition by Samson Kambalu, a Malawi-born artist now based in London.

Kambalu's 'Sepia Rain' is a series of short films, each no more than a minute, shot during his travels in Europe where he has made England his home. The films, which he calls 'Psychogeographical Nyau Cinema', are based on spontaneous site-specific performances. Inspired by the Gule Wamkulu (the Great Play) which has been celebrated by the Chewa in the masquerade culture of his country of birth, Kambalu approaches film making as an occasion for critical thought and sovereign activities - quirky, playful and often transgressive acts aimed at expressing a radical subjectivity with which the artist regards the world. Nyau cinema employs the medium of film and the psychology and geography of urban areas and their vicinities as catalysts for dramatic self-transformation where the self is playfully reconceived as part of a larger scheme of things, transcending the limitations and conventions of everyday life. 'Nyau' is a Chewa word for 'excess'.

Sepia Rain presents Kambalu's filmic self-reconceptions within social, political, economic, and scientific phenomena of the wider world in an age of globalisation. In these works the artist draws on references from early film-making experiments, catastrophic histories of the 20th Century, questions of the environment, technology, and modern art.

Last year Kambalu wrote the ten rules of Nyau:

Nyau Cinema: Ten Rules
1. Nyau film must be conceived as a clip no longer than a minute.
2. Performance should be spontaneous and site/specific to found architecture, landscape, or object.
3. There must always be a conversation between performance and the medium of film.
5. Costume must be from everyday life.
6. Acting must be subtle but otherworldly, transgressive, and playful.
7. Editing must be limited to the aesthetics of primitive film and silent cinema.
8. Audio must be used sparingly, otherwise it must be performed live at film screenings.
9. Screening of a Nyau film must be in specially designed cinema booths or improvised cinema installations that complement the spirit of the films.
10. Nyau cinema must encourage active participation from audience.
- Samson Kambalu 26.8.13

18 September 2014 - 31 October 2014

Mame Diarra Niang at STEVENSON in Johannesburg

STEVENSON is pleased to announce a solo exhibition by French-Ivorian-Senegalese photographer Mame-Diarra Niang, her first at the gallery.

'At The Wall' was realised while driving in a taxi through Dakar. The artist did not stop to take the photographs; as such, the images suggest a sense of constant movement. In her views, there is an unexpected silence and spaciousness in a city known for its bustle; she sees it emptied, a series of walls and buildings with a barely discernible human presence. Her images are abstracted to the point that they are unrecognizable as Dakar; the fabric of the city is paradoxically not the subject of the series. Niang has an acute sensibility for the balance of forms; her eye is attuned to the many possibilities of creating illusions. Framing a terrace through an angled perspective or playing with the optical perception of a building, she turns the city's architecture into a language to express her personal concerns.

The artist's complex relationship with a place that is deeply part of her history and yet does not offer her a sense of home is palpable; she seems to move in a void, following the same wall through the city, as if looking for a thread, a sign, an encounter, and maybe a connection. One could say that the subject of the series is the search, the pilgrimage to gain answers on the future and the past alike. The encounter with the wall offers a surface where her desires and fears are projected. As in any encounter with a reflective experience, the answer ultimately lies with the pilgrim.

18 September 2014 - 31 October 2014

Serge Alain Nitegeka at STEVENSON in Johannesburg

STEVENSON is pleased to present a new exhibition by Serge Alain Nitegeka. 'Into the BLACK' is the artist's third solo show with the gallery.

In his exploration of formal and philosophical 'blackness', Nitegeka follows a lineage of art movements that have placed the colour at the centre of their rationales, including Russian Constructivism, Minimalism and Abstract Expressionism: from Malevich's 'generative' black and Rothko's 'pulsating' black, to Reinhardt's 'degrees' of Black.

In Nitegeka's latest self-portraits the colour acts as both body and gesture, translating past experience of trauma into formal qualities of texture and surface abrasion.

New panels on show also draw on Nitegeka's 2012 video Black Subjects, in which a group of performers negotiate their way through sculptures which function as obstacles to movement. In these works blackness speaks of the inextricability of relationship between figure and obstacle, and between movement and stasis.

Nitegeka writes:

The colour black is notoriously unrevealing and uncompromising. Into the BLACK ventures into both the known and unknown potentials of the colour in my work.

'Black is the colour of the origin of painting - and our own origin. In French, we say the baby 'sees the day,' to mean he was born. Before that, of course, we were in the dark'. This is to suggest that we come from the dark; we don't know where we come from and we don't know where we are headed. The black and its darkness are the known constants; sort of like ashes to ashes - dust to dust. From the black into the black.

07 August 2014 - 12 September 2014