Everard Read, Cape Town
24.02 - 20.03.2021
For Brett Charles Seiler’s latest offering, Everard Read’s walls were painted black to host the frames and chalked afterthoughts, which along with the dimension-defining wooden sculptures, complete the collection that is ‘Timber’.
There’s a certainty to the introspective musings which hyphenate the works; they read like epiphanies, or tail-ends of conversations, or journal entries. These short stories such as, “after making love to a man he asked me if I believed in god” and “a homosexual with bad teeth” are part of what makes Seiler the dynamic artist he is. These intimate anecdotes seem both symptomatic of our symbiosis with social media, while feeling like a distinct, narrating voice emerging to guide the audience through the experience of the exhibition. More specifically, the experience of Seiler’s perspectives. From his bold linework, both in the ‘text’ and in the formation of his subjects, to his choice of canvas size and accompanying materials, to his use of space – Seiler is steadily extruding moments, and memories, and meanings to fulfil his vision as he enhances his style with each new work. ‘Timber’ is made up of building materials such as roof paint, bitumen, screws, and wood all accented by a familiar school-board shade of green to create room in which to ponder the institutionalisation of masculinity as you navigate Seiler’s themes and thinking.
Exploring form and societal function, Seiler’s pieces range thematically from grief to lust and intimacy, to faith, sexuality, violence and existentialism. Table, Seat, and Chair seem kindred in their mutual pursuits of shape and the normalisation of the exploration of sexuality and queerness by way of a sort of ‘literalisation’ of regular objects in correlation to the narratives presented. Table suggests the choreography of curiosity among the subjects is as normal as the furniture that decorates the detail of our everyday lives.
Then again, Seat diverges some in veering closer to the objectification of the subject’s body, since as opposed to creating a shape in unison, this subject is presented as they are, and labelled in singularity as well. This adds another layer to the conversation of sexuality and the journey navigated in uncovering it for oneself as one can easily be objectified and become a ‘seat’, or moment in someone else’s adventure of self-discovery, furthering Seiler’s discussions on masculinity, shame, silence, and yearning.
Continuing his use of a mostly monochromatic palette, Seiler’s silhouettes delve into the depths of the paint as much as they do the space of the canvas itself. There, where canvas colour meets skin, and where Remind Me To Call Mom has the title scrawled across the jugular of the subject, Seiler intersects his mediums in homage to the jarring emotions at play. He articulates how simultaneous feelings and ideas can swarm an experience, flooding the mind and heart, while using his canvasses to accommodate the surge that follows. Balancing the convoluted subject matter, Seiler includes works such as This Is A Gay Painting which stands in the power and impact of its simplicity. Homecoming and Homecoming 2 are both connected by a sense of softness, of returning and love. Where the one portrays intimacy through a mirroring affection, the other focuses instead on the act of affection itself; of touching and being touched.
Locating these various points of thought illustrates Seiler’s dedication to the dimensions coexisting in and amongst these experiences. Seiler is excavating his own history under the shadow of a larger history which set its own precedent for the present, while allowing limitations to linger and obstruct the paths to self-acceptance and closure.
This continuing conversation is also highlighted by two pieces in the collection which date older than the majority, namely Confessions Of A Crossdresser, 2020 and I Wore Your Shirt Til It Hurt, 2019. Creating a foothold in the timeline of the collection, these pieces command the space within Everard Read in their own ways over and above proving record of Seiler’s journey. The scale and subject of I Wore Your Shirt Til It Hurt creates a visual pull so compelling and sincere through its combination of a found photograph, pencil, chalk, wood, acrylic, supawood, a summation of Seiler’s usual materials. This piece specifically addresses Seiler’s approach in all its bare honesty and commendable introspection and intuition, meeting with his stylistic composition and delivering works that are provocative as they are healing.
‘Timber’ is a body of work dedicated to the body’s journey, as it follows after the impulses and desires and yearnings of the human mind and its true essence. It challenges perspectives and societal assumptions, while coaxing hope forward with its closure-breeding, empathetic, unfiltered narratives sewn into the exhibition.