Press for Carla Busuttil
Carla Busuttil / Mahala / 11 April 2012Exit Mode review by Layla Leiman (503.5 KB)
Carla Busuttil / City Press / 06 April 2012Accidental Monsters by Percy Mabandu (1.9 MB)
Carla Busuttil / Wanted / September 2011Carla Busuttil by Sean O'Toole (1.2 MB)
Carla Busuttil / Mail & Guardian / 20 January 2011SA painter's brush with VerSaatchi by Jeremy Kuper (88.3 KB)
Berlin-based and South African born painter Carla Busuttil will present her first major solo show in her home country at Goodman Gallery Johannesburg. Fast establishing herself in Europe and the United States, Busuttil has gained attention through her bold use of colour and brushstroke, depicting curious figures that embody and fuse manifold histories of conflict. In Exit Mode, she returns home to exhibit a series of paintings that traverse her exit from the country, and what she discovered when she left.
A dedicated painter, Busuttil’s point of departure and ultimate concern is always her medium. “Within my work, it is the quality of painting that matters,” she explains. “Content is secondary – always secondary. I am not interested in constructing images that shock or dictate, and doubt whether painting, or any other medium, retains the power to do so.” For the artist, it is not only the medium of paint that is crucial, but the hue that it manifests – and the essential poignancy of this manifestation. Singular and outlandish characters, each one defined by its ascribed palette, inhabit her canvases. “Colour plays an important role in both the process and outcome of my work. Colour guides emotional response – it can bind a painting. As with Matisse’s use of single-hued blocks, I find colour a superior stand-in for detail. And this is how my figures develop.”
At the same time, Busuttil admits that external references are unavoidable, quoting Candice Breitz: “If we consume something, we have to shit it out”. Busuttil expands on this by saying “and to shit, we must consume. So, content there must be.” While she works with photographic sources commonly found in library archives or newspapers and magazines, Busuttil explains that she merges “features from a number of photos (possibly spanning both era and geography) in order to construct a single painting, or single character. And, despite this collection of sourced material, the final canvas seldom resembles the photographs used. The result is more a process of working towards a strong painting, constantly degrading the weight of the foundation imagery. That movement towards a final image is driven emotionally, rather than intellectually. Colour and brushstrokes pull towards the desired result.”
On the surface, Busuttil’s paintings may appear as confrontations of contemporary politics, yet this is not her binding intention, but rather something more intuitive. “In many cases, the images I choose are those of recent war or conflict. For some reason, I find it easy look at images of violence. Perhaps most people do. It is just not easy to admit. Having said that, anything from Victorian clergy to modern day sportsmen could catch my attention. I choose images through instinctual immediacy, composition and feeling – without pre-intended message or meaning. I do not commentate, or intend to commentate. Yet, the themes of violence and power seem to regularly surface.” She continues to explain that “this process of source-gathering can result in my playing games with the underlying imagery – like some visual strand of ‘God Monopoly Charades’; placing seemingly non-connected historical events and figures alongside one another and seeing what kind of dialogue results. I think, if we draw a line through diverse histories, we could find commonalities – something that reveals a bit more about what it is to be human.”
While the title of the show – Exit Mode – stems from a conversation about immigration, Busuttil explains that it has an open interpretation. “This broad potential application, its ambiguity, is what I like about it. For example, in the context of American foreign policy, it could stem from the desire to extract forces from operations in Afghanistan and Iraq – operations for which strong arguments had previously been put forward. Or, within a failing relationship, it could describe the state of mind of the partner with the ‘itchiest feet’… Exit Mode can be applied universally and operates like an instinctual switch – a defence mechanism that clouds thought, destroys objectivity and slays optimism.” At the same time, in reference to her leaving South Africa, Busuttil questions: “Did I experience a kind of Exit Mode?”
Carla Busuttil was born in 1982 in Johannesburg and lives and works in Berlin. Busuttil received a BA (Hons.) in Fine Art at the University of Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, followed by her Masters in painting at the Royal Academy Schools, London (2005-2008). As well having work featured on Newspeak: British Art Now, at the Saatchi Gallery, London (2010), and Saatchi Adelaide (2011), Busuttil’s paintings have been seen on various group exhibitions and fairs in Europe, the United States and Asia. She has won numerous awards including the Jerwood Contemporary Painters Prize 2009 and the Deutsche Bank Award 2008. She has held solo shows in London at Gimpel Fils (2009) and Josh Lilley Gallery (2011).
Goodman Gallery Johannesburg welcomes you to 2012 with Advance/… Notice, an exhibition of new works by a dynamic group of contemporary artists from around the world. As we advance into a new calendar year, this exhibition gives notice of innovations from some of our artists who are already familiar to you, and of our new ventures into an intellectual exchange with artists with whom we are excited to work for the first time. This show will also give audiences a preview of what is to come, as many of the featured artists have solo shows planned for 2012 at Goodman Gallery spaces and other prestigious South African institutions.
Advance/… Notice introduces newly perfected techniques or processes for some of our well-known artists, such as platinum photographic prints by David Goldblatt, and a completely new turn of direction and field of interest for African American artist Hank Willis Thomas, who first exhibited with us on In Context in 2010, as well as for Sigalit Landau, the acclaimed Israeli artist we co-hosted at last year’s Venice Biennale. These international savants are joined by South African artists such as Hasan and Husain Essop, Moshekwa Langa, Mikhael Subotzky, Sue Williamson, William Kentridge, Rosenclaire, and Frances Goodman revealing either brand new works, or works not yet seen in Johannesburg. Also featured are works by Kendell Geers, whose retrospective exhibition will open at IZIKO South African National Gallery in late March 2012.
Our first show of the year seems an apt time to introduce the novel and the unexpected in the work of a number of artists and to also welcome prominent figures including Liza Lou, a world-renowned American now living and working in KwaZulu Natal; South African Candice Breitz, now resident in Berlin; Chilean-born New Yorker Alfredo Jaar; London-based Iranian Reza Aramesh, as well as Carla Busuttil – a young South African artist based in Berlin who is well-established in the United Kingdom, but has never before exhibited in her home country.
Liza Lou presents a work titled Gather Forty, one of a series of forty individual sculptures made from gold-plated beads that have been expertly threaded onto four hundred individual pieces of stainless steel wire and bound in a sheaf – continuing the shift of the beadwork medium from craft to conceptual art. Alfredo Jaar, internationally recognised artist, filmmaker and architect, celebrated for the public interventions he has created all over the world, shows From Time to Time, a panel of nine Time magazine covers focusing on Africa that either feature animals or malnourished Africans – revealing how the rest of the world often encapsulates its second largest continent. Breitz, who opens a major survey of her work titled Extra! at the Standard Bank Gallery this February, presents The Character, a video installation filmed in Mumbai that seeks to understand the role and influence of child characters in mainstream Indian cinema through interviews with a group of young moviegoers. In Action 78, Aramesh uses familiar scenes from news footage of the first Gulf War to restage, re-present and destabilise any easy readings of the conflicts we think we understand. Oil paintings by Busuttil offer a sinisterly-executed perusal of the exploitation of power and cruelty.
We are also very pleased to present for the first time the work of Nelisiwe Xaba, who will be presenting an interactive dance and video collaboration with Mocke J van Veuren at Goodman Gallery Projects in February. The crossover into visual art is exciting new territory for this renowned performer/dancer.
Goodman Gallery hopes you will join us to be inspired, challenged and excited by this exhibition and its promise of advances in the visual arts of South Africa. We trust you will find the exhibition gives notice of an innovative and exciting programme for 2012 in Johannesburg and Cape Town.
Carla Busuttil – born 1982 in Johannesburg, South Africa – lives and works in Berlin. Busuttil studied a Masters in painting at the Royal Academy Schools, London (2005-2008). She featured in Newspeak: British Art Now, at the Saatchi Gallery, London, 2010, and was included in Daily Miracles, Josh Lilley Gallery in London in 2009, and Jerwood Contemporary Painting Prize, Jerwood Space, London, 2009. She held a solo show at Gimpel Fils, London in 2009 and at Josh Lilley Gallery in 2010. Her work is included in the Saatchi Gallery collection, the Kabin Collection, London and the Franks-Suss Collection, London.
2012 Goodman Gallery, Johannesburg, South Africa
2011 Rug & Gut & Gum , Josh Lilley Gallery, London
2009 Tuxed Fucks – And other curious outfits , Gimpel Fils, London
2011 British Art Now, Saatchi in Adelaide, Australia
2010 Gifted , Josh Lilley Gallery, London
Newspeak: British Art Now, Saatchi Collection, Saatahi Gallery, London
2009 Newspeak: British Art Now, Saatchi Collection, Hermitage, St. Petersburg, Russia
2009 Daily Miracles , Josh Lilley Gallery, London
Jerwood Contemporary Painting Prize, Jerwood Space, London
2008 The World’s Most Dangerous Ideas , Dray Walk Gallery, Truman Brewery, London
2008 Saatchi Online at Concrete and Glass Festival, Beach Blanket Babylon, London
2008 Yellow Freight, Fold Gallery, London
2008 Royal Academy Schools Summer Show, Royal Academy, London
2008 MA Show, Atkinson Gallery, Somerset
2007 Neck to Nuts , La Viande Gallery, London
2007 Painting Music – Performance, Fringe Festival, Edinburgh
2007 Chelsea Arts Club, London
2007 Influx , Nolias Gallery, London
2007 Premiums, Royal Academy of Arts, London
2006 La Viande, London
2006 Lynn Painter Stainers Prize Exhibition, Painters’ Hall, London
2006 Royal Academy of Arts Summer Show, London
2004 University of Witwatersrand Degree Show, The Mills, Newtown, Johannesburg
2004 Sasol New Signatures, Pretoria
2004 Conciliation , Johannesburg Art Gallery, Johannesburg
2004 Herd – Wits University Group Show, The Bag Factory, Newtown, Johannesburg
2004 Martienssen, University of Witwatersrand, Johannesburg
2004 Choose Your Own, University of Witwatersrand, Johannesburg
2004 Art Space, Northcliff, Johannesburg
2004 Wire Sculpture: Student Show, The Gertrude Posal Gallery, Johannesburg
2009 Jerwood Contemporary Painting Prize
2008 Deutsche Bank Pyramid Award
2008 John Moore (shortlisted)
2007 New Contemporaries (shortlisted)
2006 Chelsea Arts Club Award for painting
2006 Lynn Painter Stainers Prize
2006 Celeste Art Prize