Listings

 

CAPE TOWN





Veronique Malherbe
Breastlay 1999
Handmade chocolates,
made with breast milk
from the artist
Installation view

Veronique Malherbe at João Ferreira

Last chance to view Veronique Malherbe's exceptional show 'Quest for Zero Defect', which closes on June 2. For details, check the ArtThrob review from last month, and for more about the artist, read this month's Artbio.

Painter Margaret Vorster's new show entitled 'Housework' opens at the gallery on June 7. Full review below.

João Ferreira Fine Art, 80 Hout Street. Phone (021) 423-5403; fax 423-2136; e-mail joao@iafrica.com. Gallery hours: Tuesday to Friday, 10am to 5pm; Saturdays, 10am to 2pm; Sundays by appointment.

 


 


Xolile Mtakatya
The Inheritors
Pastel on cotton paper












Lundi Mduba
Freedom Songs 1999
Acrylic on canvas












André Naudé
Small Matter(s) XII 1999
Mixed media

Four shows at the AVA

Xolile Mtakatya is a young Cape Town-based artist whose work goes a long way beyond a straightforward depiction of township life. Delving into the cultural history of the past, Mtakatya introduces such cultural hot potatoes as Saartjie Baartman or the Lydenburg heads into contemporary situations in a consideration of how past actions impact upon the present. Mtakatya wields his pastels with great skill, laying loose webs of colour one upon the other in a rich and vibrating effect, drawing his subjects with energy and feeling. A fine body of work.

Like Mtakatya, Lundi Mduba has had his exhibition sponsored as part of the AVA's Artreach programme. His brash and bold use of colour contrasts with Mtakatya's layered approach, but seems appropriate for his straightforward depiction of characters from his daily life. One would welcome a little more subtlety here, an attempt to take his compositions beyond the conventional.

In the Main Gallery, André Naudé is presenting 'Small Matters', a series of quiet, small-scale paintings in muted tones, and his first exhibition in Cape Town for several years. Naudé "concerns himself mainly with the process of painting, utilising the traditional tablescape as his main vehicle of comment". An exhibition for those who prefer the non-challenging.

Upstairs, on the ArtStrip, is a portfolio of 16 small screenprints produced by Jonathon Comerford at Hard Ground Printmakers Workshop in Woodstock working in collaboration with 15 other artists. Entitled 'Paper Prayers', the portfolio is intended to highlight the condition of people living with HIV/AIDS. Participants include Peter Clarke, Randolph Hartzenberg, Comerford himself and Francine Scialom Greenblatt. Doubtless the artists had the best of intentions, but as so often with this kind of initiative, about half the prints show thought and consideration and the other half look as if the artists dashed them off with the deadline hanging over their heads. Geoffrey Fineburg's playing card image with its clever use of male and female symbols makes its point well.

All exhibitions close June 12. AVA, 35 Church Street. Phone (021) 424-7436; fax 423-2637; e-mail avaart@iafrica.com. Gallery hours: Monday to Friday, 10am to 5pm; Saturday, 10am to 1pm. Website: www.ava.co.za.

 


 


Marco Breuer
'Subject to Change' series 1998
Silver gelatin paper
45,5 x 35,5cm









Marco Breuer
'Subject to Change' series 1998
Silver gelatin paper
45,5 x 35,5cm

Marco Breuer at the Hänel

If one was doing a fast gallery hop, one might put one's head in at the Hänel, observe that there was a series of small-scale black and white photos pinned onto one wall, note that the theme was not clearly apparent, and duck back out onto the street again without giving the work any further time. And this would be a great pity. Marco Breuer is a young German artist now living in New York, and his series 'Subject to Change', which "explores issues of orientation and perception through the vehicle of fictitious travel", deserves serious attention.

Breuer's travels take place in his darkroom, and his images are produced as a result of careful experimentation. Modest and small scale as these images are, Breuer has invested them with an intensity and a sense of play. There is an image of a hand hanging up a Texas-style hat. A little scene looks as if it contains the fašade of a Swiss chalet. Other images seem to represent sun bursts, or night skies. There is a blurred map of somewhere in Germany, maybe. It is hard to pinpoint quite why these small images are so compelling. But that is a part of their charm.

Until June 12. Hänel Gallery, 84 Shortmarket Street, Cape Town. Phone (021) 423-1406; fax 423-5277. Gallery hours: Tuesday to Friday, 11am to 5pm; Saturday 10am to 2pm.

 


 




Destiny Deacon
Being There 1998
Bubble-jet print from
C-type photograph
On 'Isintu - Ceremony,
Identity and Community'

June at the South African National Gallery

Two long-running shows are still on at the SANG, though one comes off in the middle of this month. David Goldblatt's stellar and not-to-be-missed exhibition of 136 black and white photographs with its wonderfully succinct title 'The Structure of Things Then' came to the gallery from an earlier showing at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, and is now in its last days. "Then" is the apartheid years, and Goldblatt presents a picture of South Africa as revealed by its monuments, its small shopping centres, its suburban residences. Full review, April ArtThrob.

Also still up is 'Isintu - Ceremony, Identity and Community', the Zayd Minty/Thumelo Mosaka-curated show which set out to examine the common experience of being black through the eyes of artists from South Africa and Australia. Paul Edmunds reviewed the show for ArtThrob.

South African National Gallery, Government Avenue. Phone: (021) 45-1628. Gallery hours: Tuesdays to Sundays, 10am to 5pm. Website: www.museums.org.za/sang/.

 


 


Conny Siemsen
Body (detail) 1998
Lime

'Art Dialogue' at the Cape Town Castle

Curated by Cologne gallerist Ralph Seippel working with Johannesburg artist David Koloane, 'Art Dialogue' brings together 10 artists, five each from Germany and South Africa, including sculptors Kevin Brand and Hermann J Kassel, photographers Andrew Tshabangu and Michael Wesely, and painters Garth Erasmus and Eckhard Etzold. Reviewed in May ArtThrob.

Closing June 5. The Castle, Cape Town. Gallery hours: Monday to Saturday, 9.30am to 4pm.

 


 


Giraffe 1994
Photograph on canvas

'The End of the Game'

'The End of the Game', an exhibition of seven photographs by the internationally known wildlife photographer and film-maker Peter Beard, is showing at the Offshore Trading Company in Sea Point. The American-born Beard, who has a home in Kenya, is known for his craziness, dancing right up to elephants with his camera to get the shot he wants. Each of the photographs on display is from a series produced in New York in 1994 in an edition of six from the original negatives of Beard's seminal books, The End of the Game and Eyelids of Morning. Editions from this series went into many well-known private and corporate collections including JP Morgon Private Bank, Bianca Jagger and the New York Stock Exchange. A percentage of the proceeds from each photograph on this showing will be donated to the World Wide Fund for Nature.

The exhibition is being presented by João Ferreira Fine Art in conjunction with Farah Damji, and closes on June 23.

The Offshore Trading Company, 9-11 Regent Road, Sea Point. Phone (021) 423-5403/ 082-490-2977/ 082-438-3138 (Farah). Gallery hours: Monday to Saturday, 10am to 6pm.

 


 





Margaret Vorster
Carefully Laundered Blankets
Retain Their 'Looks' for a
Long Time
1999
Oil on board
39,7 x 29cm


















Margaret Vorster
Initiation 1999
Oil on board
35 x 28cm


















Margaret Vorster
The Single Life 1999
Oil on board
32,5 x 26cm

Margaret Vorster at João Ferreira Fine art

By Paul Edmunds

Imagine a domestic De Chirico or a somber Magritte. Then you're getting close to Margaret Vorster's new body of work entitled 'Housework'. Or at least the way it looks. She has produced a series of manageably sized oil paintings whose images are based on a late-1930s housework manual. Gone are the large expressive, mythical human/animal hybrids of her well-known Standard Bank Young Artist Award winning work, and instead here are rather subdued, safe and careful renderings of women going about their housework. With titles like Mindfulness, Carefully Laundered Blankets Retain Their 'Looks' For A Long Time and Initiation, we know what we're in for.

Vorster explores the notion of domesticity, of the oppressiveness of traditionally assigned female work and activity. We are met by a series of women, with classic 1930s profiles, all of whom appear patient, attentive, serene and satisfied. Vorster introduces the paradox of freedom found within the enforced limitations of traditional domesticity. While I don't personally find this idea unbelievable, and perhaps the seeking of this freedom is necessary for survival, I don't find its rendering in paint entirely convincing. Vorster goes further and introduces the idea of spirituality into the works, suggesting that mindfulness and acceptance of limitations can offer not only a degree of freedom but also a measure of enlightenment. Again, I don't find this implausible and many spiritual traditions, especially Eastern models, endorse similar kinds of activities - cleaning, folding, washing - but I am not convinced by the paintings. Somehow the nature of this subject matter demands that the paintings should be pushed further in any of a few directions. Perhaps they should be smaller, or bigger, or the surfaces should be glassy, rather than sit comfortably halfway between mildly gestural and smoothed out. In their favour, the paintings themselves maintain the kind of domestic flavour which they depict. Vorster's narrow use of colour, mostly tones of grey, sometimes lightly hued, punctuated with small areas of saturated colours and collaged elements, does produce some very attractive painting.

The paintings have reproduced well in the publicity for the show and perhaps their strength lies in their graphic qualities. I find the ideas explored interesting, but somehow feel that they were dragged out over too many works and are consequently thinly spread. Vorster's mastery of tone and colour are evident and her ability to deconstruct an idea and express it graphically is used well, but somehow the whole thing doesn't quite hang together for me.

Ends July 3. João Ferreira Fine Art, 80 Hout Street. Phone (021) 423-5403; fax 423-2136; e-mail joao@iafrica.com. Gallery hours: Tuesday to Friday, 10am to 5pm; Saturdays, 10am to 2pm; Sundays by appointment.

 


 


Gavin du Plessis
Dark Odyssey
Pen and ink with airbrush

Gavin du Plessis in Bellville

'Dark Odyssey', an exhibition of black and white drawings inspired and motivated by the thought and teaching of Carl Jung, opened at the Arts Association of Bellville on June 9 and will run until June 27. Artist Gavin du Plessis says his primary concern is "with the exploration of the dark hinterland of the unconscious mind as depicted in metaphorical form", including the "juxtaposing of primordial elements and archetypal symbols set against a vast spatial backdrop derivative of the African landscape".

The Arts Association of Bellville, Library Centre, Carel van Aswegen Street, Bellville. Phone (021) 918-2301/2287; fax 918-2083; e-mail artb@icon.co.za. Gallery hours: Monday to Friday, 8am to 8pm; Saturday 9am to 5pm.

 


 




Katherine Bull
Positioning the Cape:
A Spatial Engraving of
A Shifting Frontier
1998
Mixed media
Installation detail
















Katherine Bull
Positioning the Cape:
A Spatial Engraving of
A Shifting Frontier
1998
Mixed media
Installation detail
















Katherine Bull
Positioning the Cape:
A Spatial Engraving of
A Shifting Frontier
1998
Mixed media
Installation detail
















Katherine Bull
Positioning the Cape:
A Spatial Engraving of
A Shifting Frontier
1998
Mixed media
Installation detail

Katherine Bull at the AVA

By Paul Edmunds

Along with her Masters dissertation entitled Positioning the Cape: A Spatial Engraving of a Shifting Frontier, Katherine Bull submitted the body of work now on show at the AVA. Rather, she submitted the dissertation in support of the practical component of her degree, but it seems appropriate to phrase it the former way: the work is rich, complex and ambitious but remains somehow didactic, slave too much to a thesis perhaps.

The show consists of a large installation piece downstairs and a group of prints upstairs on the Artstrip, entitled Turn of the Century Cape Town. These prints seem to be isolated components of the installation below. Both concern themselves with perceptions of the Cape, from first European contact in the early 1600s to the British takeover in 1795 and then the contemporary perception where new cultural identities are being sought through a revision of these past histories.

The installation consists of a large hexagonal screen structure made of engraved and carved perspex panels, flanked by three altarpiece-like screens and several jewel-like structures, the only light sources in the room. Two of them are central to the hexagon and positioned on the floor and ceiling respectively, and provide a key to the images employed in the rest of the work. Their origins are cited and as such this key proves too literal. The composition of the images inscribed on the screens, their palimpsest-like overlaps and shadowplay and the rich Renaissance-style compositions are rendered interpretable and logical. The astrolabe-like disc inserts and the warping grids of maps and charts are made to seem precise and infallible. History, on the other hand, has revealed itself to be far more shapeshifting. The juxtaposition of Europeans and the inhabitants they found at the Cape has a clear enough meaning, I feel, without the repetition it endures here. The geometrical form of the installation perhaps attests to the sharp and fixed interpretations which this work makes, and the various lenses and illusionistic devices which are employed become almost token, insofar as they can't cast doubt onto such unchangeable truths. The work does make moves toward this idea of shifting and altering perceptions of frontier and history, but sticks with the safety of certain fixed stories. Its compositions and textures and the dangerous territory which it treads demand more viscous and illusive truths.

As a whole, though, the work is attractive and holds the viewer's attention for considerable time. The textures of the engravings are often exquisite, resembling at times hand embroidery, and the drawing is often very fine. The images are engaging and the compositional and formal devices employed are rich and inventive. The overt didacticism of the work can perhaps be overlooked given the serious nature of its subject matter, and the voluptuousness of some of its execution. It must also be remembered that this was produced concurrently with a dissertation with which it might well have produced an almost seamless formal and visual investigation of these ideas.

Closes July 3. AVA, 35 Church Street. Phone (021) 424-7436; fax 423-2637; e-mail avaart@iafrica.com. Gallery hours: Monday to Friday, 10am to 5pm; Saturday, 10am to 1pm. Website: www.ava.co.za.

 


 


Mark Coetzee
Engele van die Dood
1997 (detail)
Acrylic on cotton duck
2 886 x 544mm

Mark Coetzee in Worcester

Cape Town artist and gallerist Mark Coetzee will show a selection of his work from the years 1988 to 1997 at the Jean Welz Gallery in Worcester in an exhibition which opens on June 22. The work includes large-scale photographs, paintings and reworked found objects, and although much of the work was shown earlier this year at Cape Town's AVA gallery, Coetzee has reconfigured the show for the new space. Coetzee is concerned with "the way edifice, monument, decoration and public space is used to the advantage of representations of power in Western civilisation in South Africa". The invitation carries the proviso that "This exhibition contains imagery which might be disturbing to sensitive viewers and children".

Until July 15. Jean Welz Gallery, SA Association for the Visual Arts, 113 Russell Street, Worcester. Phone (023) 342-5802. Gallery hours: Monday to Friday, 8.30am to 4.30pm; Saturdays 9.30am to 12.30pm.

 


 




Festival pamphlet

GRAHAMSTOWN

First Festival offerings

Two art openings in Grahamstown will kick off the festival early next week. 'The Unseen Universe', a site-specific installation/exhibition by Anton Brink, will be located at Fort Selwyn, a crumbling 19th century British fort situated on top of Gunfire Hill, next to the 1820 Settlers Monument.

In collaboration with the exhibition, Thomas Nowotny and Angela Noelle will present 'The Floor of Stone and Mud', a dramatic lyric in music and dance, with dancers Jane Burt, Athina Copteros and Alex Johnson. This will be performed daily at times to be announced. The exhibition will be opened at 4.30pm on Monday June 28, 1999 with a special once-only performance ritual. Website: www.artslink.co.za/anton_brink.

On Tuesday, an exhibition by Eastern Cape abstract realist Tony Swift will open at 7.30pm at the Painting Studio in the Carinus Art Centre, and will remain on view from 8am to midnight throughout the festival.


Listings continued: Johannesburg, Pretoria, Durban


... MWeb

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