PAST Exhibition

Summer Salon
01.02.2022 – 30.04.2022
Overview
Graham Contemporary is a large, museumquality, industrial white cube space in one of South Africa’s premier luxury shopping centres. The gallery will exhibit a range of cutting-edge contemporary work across mediums, and will seek to showcase emerging as well as more established artistic talents, staging extensive thematised and conceptual group shows as well as solo exhibitions and projects.

The physical gallery space will be complemented by a substantial online exhibition and sales presence. This, our opening group show entitled ‘Summer Salon’, comprises a range of established and emerging artists across the mediums of painting, photography and sculpture.

Catalogue
Featured Artwork

Prudence Chimutuwah

Prudence Chimutuwah (B. 1989, Harare, Zimbabwe) is an emerging contemporary visual artist who paints and also works with collage, into which she builds traditional Zimbabwean fabrics and decommissioned currency. Her work mainly depicts women and the world they dominate or are subordinate to. She is inspired by her gender and how it adapts to the ever-changing socio-economic environment.

Tafadzwa Tega

Tega (b.1985, Harare, Zimbabwe) was born into an artistic family, and has developed a signature style of colourful representational portraiture which depicts the everyday lives of black subjects, and probes themes of culture, religion, tradition and migration and displacement

Taher Jaoui

Taher Jaoui was born in Tunis, Tunisia and currently lives and works between Paris and Berlin. Jaoui’s compositions are built on an intuitive and unconscious process. He uses different sources of inspiration, spanning from cartoon and graffiti-like drawings to Abstract Expressionism and Primitivism movements. Jaoui’s work joins together painting and drawing, abstraction and representation. Through a personal language in his compositions, he aims to stimulate the viewer’s feelings and imagination and let him build his own interpretation of the picture. He often composes with semifigurative elements, such as heads, legs, eyes or hands. He combines an aggressive use of color and texture with various combinations of oil, enamel, spray paint and charcoal on canvas. His work has been exhibited in various group and solo exhibitions across Europe, Africa and the USA.

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Andrew Kayser

I am often asked, “What is your work about? What are you trying to say?” This is difficult to answer as, in truth, I’m not trying to say ‘anything.’ My greatest hope is to offer the viewer an experience, not just an idea or a take away message presented in a nice, clean package.

I enjoy peculiar juxtapositions, the work is meant to be jarring, unsettling and to create a sense of dissonance. It’s meant to be these things while at the same time drawing you in, holding your attention and giving you space to create your own narrative. I’ve set up some parameters, but once it’s out there the viewer takes over. I see the world as dark and ambiguous, where meaning is fleeting and intangible. We make up fictions, myths, religions, narratives to create meaning and give a sense of order and stability to our lives and societies, but I see it as pure folly to hold onto any of these as absolute. Much consideration goes into the work to investigate the perplexity of our modern condition, bereft of traditional consolations such as belief in a providential plan and the hopes for civilization and progress which have been shattered by the fragile, mutable realities we inhabit individually and collectively.

This is my intention creating the work, but what you take away is your own. I hope to create something dark, beautiful, and humane. A momentary respite from news, media, entertainment, smart phones, porn, gaming, all inadvertently designed to distract us from acknowledging that we are deeply flawed, muddled creatures aspiring to idealized notions and perfect lives.

But that’s okay, if we recognize this we may experience a fragile, necessary grace.

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Christy Lee Rogers

“My purpose behind the work is to question and find understanding in the craziness, tragedy, vulnerability, beauty and power of mankind.” CLR

Christy Lee Rogers is a visual artist from Kailua, Hawaii. Her obsession with water as a medium for breaking the conventions of contemporary photography has led to her work being compared to Baroque painting masters like Caravaggio. Boisterous in color and complexity, Rogers applies her cunning technique to a barrage of bodies submerged in water during the night, and creates her effects using the refraction of light. Through a fragile process of experimentation, she builds elaborate scenes of coalesced colors and entangled bodies that exalt the human character as one of vigor and warmth, while also capturing the beauty and vulnerability of the tragic experience that is the human condition. Rogers’ works have been exhibited globally from Paris, London, Italy, Mexico City to Shanghai, Sao Paulo, South Africa, Los Angeles and more, and are held in private and public collections throughout the world. She has been featured in International Magazines, including Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar Art China, Elle Decoration, Global Times, The Independent, Casa Vogue, Photo Technique, Photo Korea and others. Rogers’ “Reckless Unbound” is currently housed at Longleat House in the UK; the stately home, which is the seat of the Marquesses of Bath and also home to Renaissance gems of the Italian masters, like Titan’s “Rest on the Flight into Egypt.”

Rogers’ art has been featured on several album covers, and her images were selected for the 2013–2014 performance season of the Angers- Nantes Opera in France. She recently won 1st price in the 2019 Sony Photography Awards in the Open, Motion category.

  • Christy Lee Rogers –
    Christy Lee Rogers

    Archival Giclee Pigment Print with Glossy Acrylic Diasec Face Mounting on Dibond Backing
    122 x 424cm
    Signed: “Christy Lee Rogers” (Verso)
    Dated: 2017
    Edition 1/5

Mustafa Maluka

Mustafa Maluka (b. 1976, South Africa) is known for his large scale portraits that are often depicted with expressions that reveal deep and universal truths regarding survival and confrontation. The artist explores themes including migration and human emotion, and often overlaps with the worlds of fashion and popular culture. His work is informed by his own experience of being forcefully displaced alongside his family during apartheid in South Africa. Epistemic Disobedience (2016) is a striking rendition of a woman gazing directly at the viewer, a look of frank appraisal of the viewer on her face. The subject, with bold eyes and lips painted green, is shown against a background of brightly coloured crisscrossing stripes. Maluka has participated in exhibitions around the world including in New York, Hawaii, and The Netherlands.

Jennifer Morrison

Jennifer Morrison was born in South Africa in 1971, it is here that she began her art studies, and later continued in London, where she graduated from Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design.

Morrison’s work deals predominantly with colour and shape and she uses these elements to explore juxtaposition, repetition, movement and rhythm. Although she has lived in London for two decades, the colours of South Africa have never left her and remain a central influence in her work.

Whether it is a plant or clouds or smudges on a wall, these can all serve as inspiration for her and act as a starting point for a painting. Morrison’s inspiration comes from the world around her and then it becomes something of its own. It is sifted through her memory and her imaginings.

Morrison is interested in weighing accident against deliberation, precision and control against playfulness and abandon. She plays with material, medium and form and through this, an ‘arrangement’ is made. She uses the word ‘arrangement’ to mean a state in which she finds the result to be pleasing in some way. She also means it in the sense that she’s come to some kind of arrangement with the painting itself. Her marks speak back to her and she replies until she feels that the conversation is over. Morrison has always been more interested in colour and shape and materials than in social or political or personal commentary or content. She likes the way that abstraction allows for ambiguity. She doesn’t need or want definitive answers or didactic explanations. Morrison prefers meaning, if it is found at all, to be open. Her work is subjectively driven and is guided largely by intuition.

When she paints she is in control of the process, up to a point. Morrison chooses to relinquish control at certain stages but she is ‘watching’ this process very carefully. She is in charge of the accidents to some extent and it’s this dance of chaos and control that intrigues her. The freedom is controlled. All of this has to happen with a lack of self-consciousness otherwise everything comes to a halt. This intersection of order and chaos endlessly fascinates the artist. With painting, as with other things, you’re always losing possibilities by the choices you make – to her this seems to be a very exciting thing.

Morrison has exhibited in group shows in London and New York and at various corporate venues. She has had solo exhibitions at the Arndean Gallery, Cork Street, and at the Coningsby Gallery in London. Her work is in private collection in South Africa, Singapore and London.

Justus Jager

Justus Jager was born in 1982 in Dresden, Germany. From 2011 to 2012 he was a guest student in the professional class for painting and graphic arts with Professor Annette Schröter, Academy of Visual Arts Leipzig, where he completed a diploma. From 2003 to 2011 he took a class for monumental painting with Professors Andrei Andreyevich Mylnikov and Alexander Kirovich Bystrov at the State Academic School of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture EI. E. Repinc in St. Petersburg. He now lives and works in Leipzig, Germany. He currently teaches a compulsory course for anatomy for first year, and art project at the Academy of Visual Arts Leipzig, as well as art project in intercultural educational society MITRA eV in 2010/2011.

His work has been seen in solo and group exhibitions, first in India and after that mostly in Germany and Russia. Private collections are in Sweden, Denmark, Russia, Great Britain, Ð “Erarta” The Museum and Galleries of Contemporary Art St. Petersburg.

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Vladimir Zagorov

I guess, any curious and sincere viewer, irrespective of origin, religious beliefs and art accomplishment, is able to get close to Vladimir Zagorov’s world, get into its spirit, to live in it. – Aleksey Boyko (professor, art critic, curator and author). An extract from a catalogue, written by Aleksey Boyko, for an exhibition at the State Russian Museum (St Petersburg) describes Zagorov’s ‘Yellow Movement’ as such: “…we find once more the ‘sunny mood’, the reception of the sun, the world with the sun, the bright Universe.

Yet the sun here is not a source, but a lense, focusing those streams directed towards us from beyond its borders. An essentially similar thought process led Abbot Suger to the theory of divine light, influencing the architecture of Gothic cathedrals, sanctioning the broad use of stained-glass. And the experiments of Vladimir Zagorov seek to acquire a spatial dimension in which man could fully join the yellow movement…”

Born in 1951, in southern Russia, Zagorov graduated from the I Repin St Petersburg State Academy Institute of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture (Russia’s highest art academic university). During this time he worked under the acclaimed authority of Andrei Mylnikov.

Zagorov is considered a ‘universal’ artist because of his creative scope that includes, abstract and figurative painting, artobjects, drawings, book design and monumental-applied art. His artworks can be seen across collections in Europe, most notably in the State Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg.

Dave Edwards

Edwards (b.1955, South Africa) is a self-taught photographer who comes from a background in education and the mining industry. His debut collection, ‘End of the Line’, from which these images are drawn, is a finely composed and executed documentary study of the de-industrialisation and pillaging of the Reef’s passenger railway infrastructure.

Tamara Osso

“My work is about an awareness of the body in space. Movement is a central theme to my process and is ever-present. The tactile act of painting allows this awareness to become actualised. I find dynamic form through painting derived from my daily rituals and movements. Painting is both a distancing mechanism as well as a proprioceptive experience. It assists me in reorganising the structure of things and helps me to position myself in the world. The dancer in me revels in such an adaptive process like painting and my work seeks to translate moments of physical interaction; be they joyous, difficult, or mundane. I like how these moments can be suspended, extended, or revisited. They therefore subscribe to the notion that personal, physical intimacy is valuable.”

Osso’s artworks grapple with the connection between the immediacy of performance and the physicality of painting. In her career, she excelled as a ballet and contemporary dancer and performed with numerous local and international theatre companies before pursuing her studies in the visual arts field. In 2014 she completed her MAFA degree (with distinction) at WITS University and later, her PGCE certificate (with distinction) in education. She is currently teaching and making art.

Karel Nel

Karel Nel was born in 1955, in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa. He studied Fine Art at the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, St Martin’s School of Art, London and the University of California, Berkeley (Fulbright Placement 1988-89). He now lives and works in Johannesburg and is Associate Professor at the School of Arts at the University of the Witwatersrand. He has taught fine arts in the division since the early 80s.

Nel is a respected collector of African, Asian and Oceanic art with a particular interest in currencies. Southern African material is his area of expertise, and he acts as an advisor to a number of national and international museums on their collections of African art. He has also been part of curatorial teams for major international exhibitions on early Zulu, Tsonga and Shangaan art, and has contributed to numerous publications on this material. He is interested in early Modernism in South Africa with a particular focus on Preller, Battiss, Villa and the Amadlozi Group. Nel is a practising artist who exhibits regularly and is represented in many museums. He is well known for large public commissions at home and abroad. He has over many years been interested in the interface between art and science and this ongoing investigation has led to his inclusion as artist-in-residence in the COSMOS project, one of the most comprehensive astronomy projects ever undertaken. The Cosmic Evolution Survey (COSMOS) is a project that is involved in mapping galaxies and clusters of galaxies in a two-degree square area of the sky.

“Encounter of Circular Times”

At the heart of Karel Nel’s work is a complex exploration of the interconnectedness of the material world with the spiritual, and of the shifts and transformations that occur in between. It is an investigation of the relation between sensory perception and inner vision, and between aspects of the physical and the metaphysical, based on Nel’s interest in science and physics (and the instability of matter) in conjunction with various esoteric belief systems. This drawing does not present the viewer with a neat appearance of the visible world. Instead, it transcends notions of objective visual appearances and perceptions. Objects, spaces and geometrical forms function symbolically and on multiple levels and involve a questioning of reality rather than any search for closure.

Visually this is affected by means of the complex juxtaposition, interplay and layering of diagrammatic shapes, structures and motifs on a scale that affectively draws the viewer into the image. An ambiguous space is here created by Nel, one that is at once fragmented and in flux, yet at the same time a synthesis of seemingly opposing elements. This synthesis is reinforced by the dominance, in the center of the work, of circular, cylindrical forms and the rotating cone which are recurrent motifs in Nel’s work. The circle, symbolically associated with harmony and unity, is also a reference to the cyclical nature of time (as inferred by the title), and to the elasticity of matter, space and time.

The rotation of the cone seems to emit sparks, indicative of an energy field which refers not only to the energy resulting from the friction of matter, but also to a process of transformation – the ‘forming principle’ of rotation alluding to the existence of a divine order. The warm colours of the cylinders and cone, implying luminescence, a life force, in combination with the cooler colours used in the background, create not only visual harmony but also allude to opposing forces – again symbolic not only of an outer but also of an inner radiance.

Ultimately the viewer is presented with an image that is evocative as well as suggestive. What we experience when looking at Nel’s drawing is not a reality external to ourselves but a reality that is constructed in the process of our interaction with the work.

Penny Siopis

Penny Siopis is a South African of Greek descent. She was born in 1953 in Vryburg in the Northern Cape. She is a well established artist and noted academic, particularly interested in the ways that national history and personal memory intersect in visual narrative of the South African social climate. She studied BA Fine Arts at Rhodes University as well as a post-graduate course in painting at Portsmouth Polytechnic in England before taking up a lecturing position at the Natal Technikon in Durban. In 1984 she moved to Johannesburg and since 1995 has lectured in the Department if Fine Art at the University of the Witwatersrand. Until early 2010 she held the position of Associate Professor in Fine Arts but has since moved to Cape Town to work as a full-time artist.

Siopis became very well known for her ‘banquet’ paintings (particularly ’Melancholia’, 1986) and her ironical history paintings in the 1980’s, the latter focusing on questions of race and gender representation in public history. During the 1990’s she extended her range of media to include monumental installations, printmaking and video. She is particularly interested in the intersection of biography and autobiography in narrating aspects of South African history through film. Her later bodies of works often deal with issues of shame, violence and sexuality.

“Blush Rosea”

In a conversation with the Cameroonian intellectual Achille Mbembe, Vryburg-born painter Penny Siopis stated: “Usually we like our symbols of belief to be pure and separate”. She was referring to an installation of African religious artefacts collected on the exhibition Figuring Faith: Images of Belief in Africa (2007), shown at the Standard Bank Gallery in her native Johannesburg. It is a revealing quote, because if anything Siopis has long worked hard to mix things up in her paintings, utilising loaded motifs, unexpected materials and demanding subject matter to confound and challenge viewer expectations.

Siopis came to prominence with her “cake paintings” of the early 1980s, which as book critic Maureen Isaacson noted in 2005, “were often interpreted as feminist statements at the time but… were just as much expressions of the complexity of feminine desire, vulnerability, exposure…” An intensely engaged artist, Siopis’ lavish “banquet” and “history” paintings, also from the 1980s, revealed her habit of locating a corrupting virus within the tradition of painting. The Nigerian art theorist Okwui Enwezor puts it slightly differently, commenting favourably on Siopis’ manner of “resorting to a composite of painterly discourses (landscape, figuration, abstraction and collage)”.

Blush Rosea, demonstrates a marked consistency in Siopis’ conceptual approach to painting, even after the watershed moment of 1990-1994. At once tender, yet somehow marked by difference, Siopis’ painting fulfils many of the criteria the painter voiced – in 2005 – as central to her understanding of painting: “I think painting shouldn’t be seen as some rarefied activity, or as something triumphantly performed on a legendary canvas. It is better seen as a practice of invention involving many forms: painterly installations, parts of sculpture, performance, marks on the body.”

  • Penelope Siopis

    Mixed Media on Cardboard Paper – 102 x 150.5cm
    Signed: “Siopis” (Lower/Right)
    Dated: 2005

Deborah Bell

Deborah Bell is one of South Africa´s most acclaimed artists, whose work is created in dialogue with multiple worlds, texts, histories and consciousnesses. She is also widely known for her collaborative projects with William Kentridge and Robert Hodgins.

Her works possess a kind of ‘mystical godliness’ which comes from deep within her. Her art making is a spiritual practice in which the role of the artist is to ‘co-create the world, to materialise what exists and has existed for all time’. Inspired by museum objects from ancient civilisations, including African, Babylonian and Egyptian, her work incorporates multi-layered references to past and present worlds.

Deborah Bell’s work is a highly spiritual and personal experience of mark making. Memory and the role it plays personally, and in society, thematically prevails throughout her body of work from the 1980s to present.

Athi-Patra Ruga

Athi-Patra Ruga (b. 1984) is a South African artist who uses performance, photography, video, textiles, and printmaking to explore notions of utopia and dystopia, material and memory. His work explores the body in relation to sensuality, culture, and ideology. Themes such as sexuality, HIV/AIDS, African culture, and the place of queerness within post-apartheid South Africa also permeate his work.

Work: Touched by an Angel (2014) Ruga often works in the mediums of tapestry and embroidery, and this early work is drawn from the iconography of his imaginary Utopia he calls Azania, in the series ‘Future White Women of Azania’

Bastiaan Van Stenis

Born in South Africa on the 24th of June 1981, a descendant of the renowned 19th Century English painter John Thomas Baines. Bastiaan, of half Dutch, half South African descent, grew up in Cape Town, South Africa.

Bastiaan is primarily a self-taught artist but at a young age he received private art tutoring and Guidance. After his schooling in 2000, Bastiaan then began to fully dedicate himself to painting and commenced exhibiting his work, an endeavour that he continues to this day. In his own words, “What drives me is the process, the creating and the creation itself is just another stop on the way”. His paintings are expressed using a diverse range of tools and mediums including paint, cloth, encaustic wax, hair, glues and collage. His other projects include taxidermy and sculpture.

Van Stenis’ art is captivatingly unique. His style commands the viewer’s attention, and his subject matter absorbs their interest. The figures that are presented both explode from, and dissolve into, the creamy peach oranges, mint greens and Naples yellows that have become a central part of his style.

The serenity of these backgrounds contrasts the figures and scenarios that are depicted upon them. van Stenis’ art, inspired by the surroundings that he exists within, is saturated with layers of mixed media. The use of alternative mediums in the works themselves, takes the idea that we are a conglomeration of the influences that define us further. The masterful manner in which he weaves his mediums together becomes significant, and it represents the stitching together of the self in a dreamlike portrayal of reality. The worlds that van Stenis creates develop with time – small details move to the fore in the viewer’s appreciation of the work.

The childlike brutality of the works evoke a deeply personal understanding of the works for the viewer. They become a personal narrative of growing up and surviving as an individual in the complexities of social codes, expectations and definitions of being. Van Stenis challenges this as he depicts seemingly mundane moments with a feeling of simultaneously imploding and exploding – we become what we gather and experience. We carry memories like marks that define us. We collect emotions and they shape our form. Our permanence is found with the smears that share chosen identities. We embrace the classicism of artistry, the modernity of texture, the protest of neo-expressionism and the possibility of more in this style that lies beyond definition.

Van Stenis currently works and resides in Hermanus, South Africa.

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Mark McWilliams

Mark McWilliams (b. 1988, South Africa) is a contemporary photographer and visual artist who completed his formal training in London. His work flows between documentary, reportage and digital manipulation. Exploring the notion of experiences and the respective representations thereof. He prefers making large format prints in order to emphasise the themes of his work.

  • Mark McWilliams

    Inkjet Print with Diasec® Framing
    123 x 84.5cm
    Edition of 5
    Dated: 2014

  • Mark McWilliams

    Inkjet Print with Diasec® Framing
    84.5 x 127cm
    Edition of 5
    Dated: 2012

  • Mark McWilliams

    Inkjet Print with Diasec® Framing – 120 x 244cm
    Edition of 5
    Dated: 2012

Igshaan Adams

Adams (b. 1982, South Africa) has become internationally renowned for his labour-intensive woven works including tapestries, rugs and standing sculptures. His work is usually hand-manufactured by his collaborators, often hailing from his community in the Cape Flats near Cape Town. Much of his work addresses global questions of displacement and identity, reflecting his own multiple identities as a gay, practising Muslim South African from an area and racial group of the country shaped and discriminated against by apartheid. His Muslim background is reflected in the references to prayer rugs in his work, but he has expanded his palette of materials to include wore, rope, plastic, beads and shells. The work on exhibition is a good early example of the complexity and range of his technique and sculptural approach to his materials. His work has been shown and is collected around the world, including two prestigious solo exhibitions at the SCAD Museum in Miami, and at the Hayward Gallery in London.

Robert Slingsby

Inspiration for Deep water, Base station, and The Renaissance Switch”

The blue lotus defined my art in 2021. And the colour blue dominated, with shades of purples, pinks and greens, the colours of the sky and riverbanks reflected on the river.

The blue lotus, a hallucinogenic flower, which flourished in the Blue Nile, depicted on the walls of the monumental temples and tombs, is associated with the culture, glory and excesses of ancient Egypt.

My use of the blue lotus, the latest in my lexicon of iconography developed over 50 years as an artist, is of enormous significance in appreciating the 2021/22 paintings and in fact is symbolic of 50 years observing traditional communities in Africa, and the impact of modernisation through Anthropocene activities.

Rivers as a site of traditional community conflict, has featured in my art throughout my career. I spent 30 years recording Richtersveld petroglyphs, while documenting and creatively expressing the effect of vast open cast diamond mines and agriculture on the Richtersveld Nama living along the banks of the Orange River. I watched a community evolve from ‘matjies skerms’, which suited their semi-nomadic lifestyle to forced removals as corridors of accessible land diminished.

An exhibition titled ‘Money and God in his pocket’ 2012 at the Barnard Gallery, triggered an awareness of traditional communities living along the omo River in Southern Ethiopia. 2013 was the start of several return visits to the region observing and recording similar trajectory but at an infinitely faster pace than in the Richtersveld. It is evident that globally, remaining traditional communities inhabit extremely remote regions close to rivers. It is similarly evident that nations who still have traditional communities are usually developing countries looking for ways to rapidly modernise and meet the needs of rapidly urbanising populations; needs such as agriculture, electricity, water and transport infrastructure.

This has resulted in a model of funders of major, ill-conceived projects, cultivating a dilemma of massive, spiralling debt. Unfortunately, the small numbers, representing traditional communities are regarded as collateral damage for the greater good. Booker prize winning author, Arundhati Roy, has researched this subject extensively as it played out in India. A parallel has played out in Ethiopia; the Gibe Dams along the Omo River and the Grand Renaissance on the Blue Nile.

And it is with regard to the latter that the blue lotus takes on significance. Massive dams have massive impact to those downstream. The power to control the flow of the river has a devastating impact on annual inundation due to lowered water levels. It is in this context, that the blue lotus flower is a symbol of mans abuse of the environment and man’s neglect for attaching the appropriate value to humanities 5% endangered indigenous protect 80% biodiversity.

The blue lotus is my symbol of climate change, environmental awareness and the impact of Anthropocene man’s activities. Together with references to water, African mythological entities, iconography representing modern technology and the lines which are quintessential of my art, the evolving process of traditional Africa confronting modernisation unfolds through my art.

Doreen Southwood

Southwood’s art functions as type of personal diary. The attempt to make tangible life experiences, contradictory emotions informs decisions around Southwood’s art making. The content of her work is subject to her choice of materials as well as work process.

  • Doreen Southwood

    Painted Bronze
    65 x 15 x 14cm
    Edition: AP 1/3
    Signed: “DS” (underneath skirt)

  • Doreen Southwood

    188 x 210 x 32cm
    Edition: AP 3/3
    Edition of (5) Five pieces
    Artist Proof of (3) Three pieces

  • Doreen Southwood

    Height: 66cm each
    Signed: “DAS” (underneath skirts)
    Edition: 2/5
    Edition of 5 – 3 Editions Available
    Artist proof of 3 – All Available

  • Doreen Southwood

    44 x 11 x 6cm
    188 x 210 x 32cm
    Edition of (5) Five pieces
    Artist Proof of (3) Three pieces

  • Doreen Southwood

    44 x 11 x 6cm
    188 x 210 x 32cm
    Edition of (5) Five pieces
    Artist Proof of (3) Three pieces

Sam Shendi

Graduating in 1997 with a Cum Laude BA degree from Helwen University of Fine Arts in Cairo, Egyptian born sculptor Sam Shendi creates joyfully coloured abstractions of the human figure which, with the subtlest of indicators, hints at the complexity of human interactions.

Shendi’s works references the work of “minimalism”, the style of paring-down design elements and focusing on the medium of steel, aluminium and paint. Some of his works are deceptively simple in form but include the qualities of metaphorical associations, symbolism and suggestions of spiritual transcendence, which is what the artist of the 60’s and 70’s were trying to avoid.

His works whittles down the human figure to its simplest form enabling the exploration of the idea of the human form as a vessel. So by reducing the human body to a container or minimal shape, his creations become centered on an emotion or an expression.

The simplicity is no longer the end result and devoid of meaning but a revelation of a hidden truth and intellectual expression. Shendi’s work, therefore takes a fine line between representation and abstraction. Whilst he appreciates the abstract form his interest is in the human and psychological dimensions to his sculptures. Stripping human nature down to its essence, and then expressing it in a sculptural language.

Firmly based in modernist morphology his colorful architectural forms abbreviate the human figure and nod to his background in monumental sculpture and interior design. Shendi juxtaposes cartoonish lemon, ultraviolet and pumpkin-coloured blocks, conjuring associations with children’s toys and industrial design and lending his pieces an emotive and playful quality. His candy-coated palette animates the archetypal themes he addresses in his work. Assisted by the use of colour to deceive the eye, flouting a sense of gravity and taking the attention away from the material also gives the work a strong optical impact.

Sometimes we may feel the tension which despite their moderate size almost bear a ‘’will to grow’’ into monuments that we could easily imagine standing in the center of any city or landscape. Pieces balance between public art, sculptural and on the border of design.

With laconic titles his work takes on themes both in subject and style and it is clear to see pieces that group together in an exploration of an idea. They form a visual story and a unique style. There is always one important element, functioning as a keystone connecting all his creation – the theme of a human being in his most genuine form. Shendi always develops his creation around subjects, which are common, understandable and important to all of us, no matter what our taste, age or cultural background may be.

Describing himself as a figurative sculptor it is important to Shendi that the work, however minimalistic still has an impact on the viewer visually and emotionally. Recognizing his work as both literally geometric forms and industrial materials but also with additional meaning in bringing back the idea of traditional academic sculpture of humanity and emotion, results in a distinctive blend of modernity and timelessness.

Stella Shawzin

The Athlete

Shawzin (1920-2021, South African) was a prolific sculptor known for the variety of materials she worked in, including wood, bronze, metal and marble, the latter of which she often acquired from the famous quarries at Carrara. Working from her Cape Town studio in her later career, which included its own foundry, her sculpture was most often of the human figure. Partly influenced by her trauma at growing up through the divisiveness and oppression of the apartheid era in South Africa, she sought a kind of humanist universalism in her figuration.

This often meant, as with the current work on exhibition, that she eschewed detailed features and individuated characteristics in her work, in favour of flows and sinuous curves in both her single figure works and her pairs or groups that are full exhibit poised energy, dynamism and grace. Her work has been exhibited and collected around the world, and was the subject of a sold-out auction in London last year.

Edoardo Villa

Edoardo Villa (1915-2011) is often called Johannesburg’s ‘unofficial official’ sculptor. Anecdotally, he has contributed the most public sculptures of any single artist in the city where he spent the majority of his life, and certainly the most without a dedicated city museum to house them. His long career began in earnest after he opted to remain in South Africa after the Second World War, following his internment here as an Italian prisoner of war. His sculptural output was marked by his ability to shift materials and registers in his work, ranging from sinuous and sensual bronzes to angular and confrontational works in steel. Much of his output was driven by his wish to develop a style that combined his training in the techniques and motifs of European modernist sculpture with his lifelong fascination with African spiritualism and iconography. From his involvement with the Amadlozi Group in the 1960s, Villa sought a syncretic and dynamic sculptural vocabulary, that took many different twists and iterations over the course of his long life. The two works on exhibition, separated by 20 years and very different in style, demonstrate this restless creative energy perfectly.

Future Exhibitions
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Past Exhibitions
Jennifer Morrison – Surface Depth
Jennifer Morrison – Surface Depth

24 January – 26 February 2019