What matters is matter – flesh, bone, muscle – and then another dimension – dimensionless – that makes us human. Human embodiment is the anchor and ground from which Christiaan Conradie departs into the groundless. Nothing in his world is possible without the bodies’ primacy – felt, touched, painted. If the human head is primary – the defining motif-factor-condition for the painting – its substance is only realisable when, in the aftermath of the painting of flesh-bone-muscle, one arrives upon its tenuous and fragile complexity.
Conradie loves the aged body, primarily male. What he sees is not the being as he/she imagines themselves to be, but what their bodies generate. We all generate. Self-possession is a fantasy. As is self-aggrandising portraiture. Conradie does nothing of the sort. Instead, he shifts the yearning intrinsic in a body, asks what it is, not what it claims itself to be. That he does so without permitting himself the fantasy that he – the painter – knows the consciousness of his subject, is remarkable.
Conradie has given up the ghost, centuries in the making, that he, the painter, knows his subject. Instead, what we get is a rune and an oddity, a figure in situ whose consequence is irreducible to their consciousness, or the artist’s projection thereof. Instead, what we get is doubt – the subject’s, the artist’s – which outweighs the Kantian fantasy: Know Thyself. In an Age of Anger, in which there is zero room for human complexity, it is vital that we pay attention to art thar recognises the criticality of doubt.
No surety exists in a likeness. No one looks in the way they expect themselves to. Ever. We are bludgeoned by time’s refusal to subject itself to our demands.
That Conradie has chosen to paint the aged white – primarily male – body is instructive. At this moment in history – with its rage against white male paternalism – it is a striking choice of focus. Old bodies don’t care for young ideas, they say. And yet, this is what the artist has chosen to do – to embrace the aged and make them anew. He breaks away from the fetish of age, alters why and how we look at older humans, shapeshifts what older people are supposed to be. How so? Because he does not merely look at them, but because, inwardly, he sees himself and knows that no one, no human, is ever the sum of their apparent condition. Agism is a folly, tiredness perpetual for anyone.
Conradie asks us to rethink naturalism, portraiture, and, in the midst of an embodied presence, the magical reality that is existence. He reminds us that we are not the victims of this age of anger, that love, care, compassion, understanding, still thrive. He does not seek to explain the world or alter it. He seeks instead to liberate us from its narrow heart.
2021 131 A Gallery – ‘Against a narrow heart’, Cape Town, South Africa
2018 Volta New York, New-York, USA
2017 Galerie 55 Bellechasse, Paris, France
2016 Galerie 55 Bellechasse, Paris, France
2015 RVCA Gallery, San Francisco, USA
2014 Rust en Vrede Gallery – ‘Love before breakfast’ , Cape Town, South Africa Celaya Brothers Gallery, ´This is the wind and this is the breeze´, México City, México
2012 Casa Verdi – ‘Los otros y Anne’, Barcelona, Spain
Sunny Side Up, Group exhibition, Graham Contemporary, Johannesburg, South Africa
2022 New Day Spring Group Exhibition, Graham Contemporary, Johannesburg
2021 Group Show, 131 A Gallery, Cape Town, South Africa
2020 Group Show, 131 A Gallery, Cape Town, South Africa
2015 SurfCity Festival, Barcelona, Spain Group Show, SMITH, Cape Town, South Africa Contracted to Galerie 55 BelleChasse, Paris, France
2014 Group Show, Casa Lamm, México City, México Pig Me Auction – Mexico City, Mexico
2013 Auction, Traeger y Pinto, México City, México Group Show, Galeria JLS, Valle Bravo, México Group Show, Myl Arte Contemopráneo – ‘Codigos Animalistas’, México City, México Group Show, White Spider – ‘Sing Sweet Songs of Conviction’, México City, México Group Show, Salon 91 – ‘Home is wherever I´m with you’, Cape Town, South Africa
2012 Group Show, Salon 91 – ‘I’d rather be swimming’, Cape Town, South Africa Group Show, A Word of Art – ‘The Space In Between’, Cape Town, South Africa Group Show, Salon 91 – ‘Impression: Sunset’, Cape Town, South Africa Group Show, Spencer Street Studios – ‘A collection of works’ , Cape Town, South Africa Group Show, Tjing Tjing Exchange – ‘A group show’, Cape Town, South Africa Group Show, Searle Street Post – ‘Last Minute’, Cape Town, South Africa
2010 Group Show, Painting and Performance, Riebeeck Kasteel, South Africa Group Show, Wessel Snyman Creative, Cape Town, South Africa Principal Painter in Andrew Putter’s ‘Sketch Assembly 1’, Cape Town, South Africa
2019 Frame Art Fair, New York, USA (Angel Orensanz Foundation) Frame Art Fair, Basel, Switzerland
2018/2019 Frame Art Fair, Miami, USA
2018 Contemporary Istanbul, Istanbul, Turkey Seattle Art Fair, Seattle, USA Art Market Hamptons, New-York, USA Frame Art Fair, Basel, Switzerland Art New York, New-York, USA Frame Art Fair, Paris, France Art Wynwood, Miami, USA Art Market San Francisco, San Francisco, USA Art On Paper, New-York, USA Volta New York, New-York, USA (Solo) London Art Fair, London, UK
2017 Superfine! New York, New York, USA Art New York, New York, USA Art Market San Francisco, San Francisco, USA YIA Art Fair Brussels, Brussels, Belgium Art Boca Raton, Miami, USA YIA Art Fair Maastricht, Maastricht, Holland Scope New York, New York, USA Art Wynwood Miami, Miami, USA London Art Fair, London, England Art Market Hamptons, New York, USA Art Pampelonne Saint Tropez, France Art Salzburg Contemporary and Antiques, Salzburg, Austria Scope Basel, Basel, Switzerland YIA Art Fair Basel, Basel, Switzerland Art Salzbourg, Salzbourg, Austria Art Market Hamptons, New York, USA Contemporary Istanbul, Istanbul, Turkey Cube Art Fair, Brussels, Belgium YIA Art Fair, Paris, France Sofa Chicago, Chicago, USA Art Miami, Miami, USA
2016 Scope New York, New York, USA Art Wynwood, Miami, USA Art Palm Beach, Miami, USA
2015 YIA, Paris, France Art Silicon Valley, San Francisco, USA Art Miami New York, New York, USA Surfcity Festival, Barcelona, Spain Context, Miami, USA