The New Church

Thinking, Feeling, Head, Heart

Kevin Atkinson
Thinking, Feeling, Head, Heart, Oil on canvas ,

SEE LISTING Untitled (The Grand Hotel series)

Mario Macilau
Untitled (The Grand Hotel series), Photographic print ,

SEE LISTING Land of Cockaigne

Deborah Poynton
Land of Cockaigne, Oil on canvas , 200 x 250cm


Brett Murray
Mine, metal, paint, gold leaf, aluminium and resin, , 128 x 150 x 15cm


102 New Church Street, Tamboerskloof, Cape Town, 8001

Hours: Tuesday and Thursday: 12h00 to 15h00 ?Saturday: 11h00 to 15h00


Group Show at The New Church

In November 2012 The New Church Museum, South Africa’s first contemporary art museum, opened its doors to the public with an exhibition from its permanent collection, ‘Subject as Matter’ curated by Penny Siopis. Two years on, the museum is delighted to welcome you to the opening of its fifth exhibition, ‘Thinking, Feeling Head, Heart’ curated by Marilyn Martin.
This exhibition about abstraction maps affinities and connections that emerge between and among particular works and artists held in the museum's collection. The collection is young, yet it has chronological depth and the acquisition of works by the same artist over a period of time adds to its richness and importance.
It is fascinating to view and consider the work of the precursors of modernism in the company of full-blown modernists and the ‘re-modernism’ (to use Terry Smith’s term) of some members of the new generation. The juxtaposition of works by, for example, Ernest Mancoba and Nicholas Hlobo, Kevin Atkinson and Jan-Henri Booyens, Christo Coetzee and Penny Siopis, Patricia Pierce-Atkinson and Georgina Gratrix, and Walter Battiss and Zander Blom reminds us of the power of historical abstraction and reveals new trajectories for the present generation.
The title, ‘Thinking, Feeling, Head, Heart’, taken from Kevin Atkinson’s c. 1976 painting, sums up the broad directions and possibilities of abstract art, past and present. It is cerebral, rigorous and calculated, also visceral and expressionistic; at the same time, abstract art strives for the cosmic and metaphysical through archetypal form; it abstracts from nature and invents new and vital forms; abstract art is suffused with its own poetry or polemics.
Rethinking abstraction is timely. We are witnessing a profound artistic paradigm shift towards abstract art, both in South Africa and abroad. What might this mean in and for art in South Africa? This is one of a number of questions posed by the exhibition.


02 December 2014 - 25 April 2015

Various Artists at The New Church

It is all very well to go travelling, but one of the inescapable consequences of letting go or getting lost is that you can never really go home as the same 'someone' that you were before. During the history of Modernity, most people thought the loss of 'home' was a tragedy: today, art suggests it may sometimes be one of life’s little necessities. ?– Kobena Mercer

This spring The New Church Museum presents 'No Fixed Abode', an exhibition that features the work of a diverse group of African artists, all of whom present works that address the ephemeral nature of home. A fundamental characteristic of contemporary art is the constant movement of artists and artworks, curators and cultural producers, ideas, concepts and information. Thomas McEvilly describes this as cultural nomadism, referring to persons who regularly travel, migrate, cross boundaries; who literally have no fixed home. Using this as a starting point, 'No Fixed Abode' offers a platform for dialogue about how artists negotiate notions of home, nationality and identity in a globalised world, and includes a combination of works drawn from The New Church Museum's permanent collection, on loan from private and corporate collections, or produced especially for the exhibition. 

Drawing on the museum’s setting within a converted house, many of the works included are concerned with shifting attitudes towards family, community and hospitality. The common thread running through the works is an ambiguity, an unease that seems to underlie the ideals of home, an acceptance, and ultimately, a letting go.? 

'Where is home? Well… I carry it with me, in my suitcase, the books I like to read, my personal things… so, I suppose, it must be wherever I am.' - Barthelemy Toguo (Cameroon) 

Igshaan Adams | Malala Andrialavidrazana | Berry Bickle | Dineo Seshee Bopape?Jacques Coetzer | Meschac Gaba | David Goldblatt | Haroon Gunn-Salie | Dan Halter?Moshekwa Langa | Gerald Machona | Mario Macilau | Misheck Masamvu?Serge Alain Nitegeka | Mauro Pinto | Athi-Patra Ruga | Barthélémy Toguo?Sue Williamson | James Webb

14 August 2014 - 01 November 2014

Deborah Poynton at The New Church

'Pictures are really just thin paint on canvas.

Deborah paints on average 7 hours a day. As curator, I feel my way through this exhibition, morning until evening. I stalk it. Looking. Talking. Looking. Reading. Looking. Ruminating. Looking, listening, listening. Deborah keeps painting.

I stop mapping the territory, the coordinates of a 25 year career, the exhibitions, the catalogues. I begin to claim land. I see Poyntonesque paintings in everything, everywhere. The view through a window, into the house next door. There are shoes and a cup on the windowsill. Children playing in a park. Everything is still. Somebody has not made a bed.

'I have just carried on doing what I did as a child. It’s been one long continuous stream of making pictures to feel a sense of connectedness. Painting this way is a wordless exclamation….Sometimes people get cross with it because they hate that it’s not about anything, and that I just carry on with all this realism. This fiddle-faddle, this knitting.'

The constructions apparent in Poynton’s childhood drawings are evident in her works to date. Ordered with an idiosyncratic rhythm, an uncanny formula. The watercolour still life of tea cup and lighter, the imagined garden. Copying Leonardo Da Vinci studies and then constructing imagined variations of them… the old antique warrior, the middle-aged antique warrior, the young antique warrior.  The construction remains today, the mastering of medium and technique has continued.The early paintings offer everything in one picture plane. The worlds constructed seem easier to contain that way, but that would be my projection of truth. In the later works, the constructed, imagined worlds spill onto many canvas panels. Environments are created for the viewer to move through, but never enter or exit. Generous. Deflective. Contained.

'Who cares if you can paint something that looks real? It is totally banal. There is no worth in that, except as a kind of sport, an exercise in hand-eye co-ordination. Now painting something that seems to contain reality – that is truly moving.'

Seems to… but realism is deceptive, realism is not reality.

Generously deflective, the viewer is mesmerized by a painted illusion, the Renaissance stances alluding to metaphor, allegory. The domestic relationships… the grouped objects …The viewer bounces within the works looking for the path out, the moral, the end result, the meaning, the reality, in the end finding their own projection.

I offer you, the viewer, my own construction.  A personally calibrated material experience. A survey designed to function as a collection of marker pegs, staking a spot from which to gain a perspective of 25 years of Deborah Poynton’s paintings.

'There is relief in dwelling in a not-new picture, in embracing the foolishness of the formula, in discovering the beauty of each small detail that is woven into the picturesque whole. And while we are there, noticing the leaves, the clouds, the way the paint has described the folds of silk, perhaps something indescribable can be felt.'

The New Church Museum acknowledges with deep gratitude the generosity of the private and corporate collections who loaned the paintings that manifested this exhibition, the Stevenson for their unfaltering logistical support, and the artist for the generosity in which she allowed the curator into her world.

All quotes from Deborah Poynton’s selected writings and artist talks, jointly published in the catalogue for 'Pictures' by Stevenson, 2013.

13 May 2014 - 26 July 2014

Various Artists at The New Church


'Pop Goes the Revolution' harnesses artworks from The New Church collection that, for the most part, embrace a Pop language; sometimes it’s a Pop aesthetic, more often a Pop conceptualism … For seasoning, there is a sprinkling of works integral to a Pop curatorial strategy which have no inherent Pop reference to speak of. So, not every artist included in the exhibition is a Pop artist; in fact, very few are. The works selected do more than reflect our social landscape – they question it. Likewise the curatorial strategy is neither timid nor ordentlik.

10 October 2013 - 01 April 2014