Gallery News for Walter Oltmann
Walter Oltmann at Standard Bank Gallery
In the Weave, an exhibition of works by Walter Oltmann, one of South Africa’s finest and most intriguing artists, opens at the Standard Bank Gallery on 29 January 2014. Curated by Neil Dundas of the Goodman Gallery, In the Weave celebrates Oltmann’s output over the last three decades. It also explores his sources, inspirations and allusions to the exchange of concepts between cultures in southern Africa. The exhibition runs from 29 January to 29 March 2014.
Various artists at the Beijing Biennale
The exhibition TWENTY: Art in the Time of Democracy is sponsored by the Shanghai-based company Zendai Development South Africa, and will present South African artists at this year’s Beijing Biennale. The exhibition is co-curated by Karen von Veh, professor in the Department of Visual Arts at the University of Johannesburg’s Faculty of Art, Design and Architecture (Fada) with Gordon Froud, Fada senior lecturer. Goodman Gallery artists exhibiting in Beijing include William Kentridge, David Koloane, Brett Murray, Sam Nhlengethwa, Walter Oltmann and Diane Victor. The Beijing International Art Biennale runs throughout September 2015.
Various Artists At Standard Bank Gallery
From Sitting to Selfie: 300 years of South African Portraits at Standard Bank Gallery in Johannesburg maps the long tradition of portraiture and its changing use and function in society. The exhibition, which opened to the public 25 June 2014, features work by Candice Breitz, Willem Boshoff, Hasan & Husain Essop, David Goldblatt, Haroon Gunn-Salie, Robert Hodgins, William Kentridge, Brett Murray, Walter Oltmann, Mikhael Subotzky, Minnette Vári and Diane Victor amongst others. From 19th century oil paintings to 21st century video installations, the exhibition raises many interesting questions about how and why people make portraits of themselves and others, and how the reasons for this have changed over time. The exhibition runs until 6 September 2014.
Goodman Gallery Cape Town
29 October – 12 December 2015
1. A little bed or cot for an infant, esp one mounted on rockers or swinging.
2. Any bed or place of repose.
3. fig. The place in which a thing begins or is nurtured in its earlier stage; the beginning.
1. Lay in, or as in, a cradle; rock to sleep; hold or shelter as in a cradle.
2. Nurture, shelter, or rear in infancy.
[Shorter English Oxford Dictionary]
Cradle presents new works by Walter Oltmann comprising aluminium wire weavings, drawings, prints and watercolours. This body of work focuses on a series of human skulls, notably those of children and young adults, (photographed from the Raymond Dart Collection of human skeletons, School of Anatomical Sciences, Wits University) and selected photographic images of South African landscapes taken at rock engraving sites. The wide-open, rocky landscapes evoke a harsh geography and in relation to the images of the skulls they carry a sense of absence and immutability.
Presenting images of skulls in relation to landscapes under the title ‘Cradle’ inevitably reminds one of the “Cradle of Humankind,” a name given to the Sterkfontein area in Gauteng where fossil discoveries were made of early hominids. In his introduction to the book A Search for Origins, Science, History and South Africa’s ‘Cradle of Humankind’, Philip Bonner (2007) notes: “The Cradle […] provides a lens through which to view and comprehend a series of absolutely pivotal and formative moments of South African prehistory and history.” Adopting this idea of ‘cradle’ as a ‘lens through which to view’ histories, Oltmann presents wire woven landscape images in circular formats that allude to views seen through a telescope, underscoring the process of looking and examining. Being images of sites that carry evidence of human presence from a very long time ago, the landscapes also introduce the prism of time. Laboriously incised and pecked into rocks, we know very little about who the creators of these engravings were, why the images are there and what they are all about. Similarly, and more closely related to our own time period, the wire woven skulls of anonymous children reflect on the ‘formative moments’ of individuals who once lived here but about whom we have little or no knowledge. ‘Cradle’ presents a melancholic contemplation on these lives and the character of trauma that their histories assume.
Archeological images (such as skulls and skeletons) have featured in several of Oltmann’s recent works that have engaged with notions of geological time, change and evolution. In these works he draws on correlations between images of fossils and woven forms such as lace and crochet work. He is interested in archaeology in that it stems from a discipline that is concerned with what Simon Calley in Sculpture and Archaeology (2011) describes as “examining our relationship to time and our place to its continuity … It is an activity concerned with the present [and] with projecting ourselves into the past … Archaeology is ordered and structured to record and interpret evidence of past human activity, but it is driven by contemporary questions.”
Oltmann’s new works also invoke the memento mori and vanitas genre in European art: scenes where the skull reminds the viewer of the fragility of life. The skull is the last effigy of the living face and is an iconic reminder of the passing of time. The skull of a child is a particularly emotionally loaded image that hauntingly underscores tragic loss and innocence in the face of trauma and catastrophe. In their often broken and eroded states, the depicted child skulls further reflect this traumatic character. The sleeping child is another common image used by artists to depict the innocence and serenity associated with sleep, but it has also frequently been used to evoke death or to suggest death as a form of sleep. Since the nineteenth century, images of the sleeping child have frequently served as grave markers. The slumbering face with closed eyes evokes stillness and a sense of transition.
Oltmann’s wire artworks involve layering and stitching together hand-woven ‘doiley’ segments to create a form of three-dimensional tonal drawing in wire. The silvery-grey of the aluminium wire translates the tonalities that we associate with documentary black and white photographs and lends itself to the austerity of the images. In foregrounding a tension between the physicality of the wire weave as material and the illusion of depth created through the tonal layering, the works are encountered as image but also as fabricated surface. The illusion of the image is thus integrated with the ‘fabric’ of the work and at times it may also become somewhat concealed within the weave. The final works remain semi-transparent and gauze-like; the drawing becomes its own sculptural object or membrane. The hand-made quality of the woven and knotted wire emphasizes time and slows down the experience of looking. The resulting process leaves a trail of traces that make time evident so that the viewer grasps it as a tangible quality embodied in the material. The chosen imagery resonates with this recognition in evoking fragility and the passage of time.
Walter Oltmann was born in 1960 in Rustenburg, Gauteng, South Africa. He completed his BA (Fine Arts) at the University of Natal, Pietermaritzburg in 1981 and his MA (Fine Arts) from the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, in 1985. He is currently working part-time as Associate Professor in the Wits School of Arts and is in the process of completing a creative PhD titled In The Weave: Textile-based Modes of Making and the Vocabulary of Handcraft in Selected Contemporary Artworks from South Africa.
Wire is Walter Oltmann’s main medium for making sculptural works and he manipulates it in a way that emphasises hand-made process, using the linear quality of wire to create forms and surfaces through techniques that parallel handcrafts. His new works – created for his solo exhibition Penumbra at Goodman Gallery Johannesburg – explore interconnections between drawing and sculpture and consist mainly of wire wall hangings that resemble overblown lace or crochet work.
Using mostly a thin (1mm diameter) aluminium wire, these net-like works are made by layering and stitching together sections of weave to create a form of three-dimensional tonal drawing. The resulting wall hangings declare their presence through scale and surface texture but often look delicate and at times even insubstantial. “I have made connections to domestic textile practices in previous artworks and continue to explore such forms of making in these works in evoking fragility and the passage of time,” explains Oltmann. “My work thus carries a very definite textile sensibility and I am interested in making connections between decorative ornament and subject matter that seems somewhat contradictory or disturbing in relation to such handcrafted embellishment.”
The works forming part of Penumbra explore archeological images (skulls and skeletons) that Oltmann frequently draws on, engaging with the notion of deep time, such as geological time, change and evolution. Oltmann also more specifically returns to the theme of “mother and child”. His pairing of an adult skull with that of a child’s counters the expected sentiment and underscores the tragic loss of the tender bond between mother and child. What is usually presented as a nurturing and serene scene becomes a disturbing testament to catastrophe. He furthermore explores the image of the sleeping child, another common image used by artists to depict the innocence and serenity associated with sleep, but it has also frequently been used to evoke death or to suggest death as a form of sleep.
The show also presents an extension of Oltmann’s coelacanth images. “I am intrigued by the mythology surrounding the coelacanth as a ‘hybrid’ creature that has been claimed to represent an evolutionary transitional state between fish and land animal (the common title of ‘old four legs’ points to this adaptation of legs developed from fins),” says Oltmann. In other works Oltmann continues his previous exploration of the interface between human and insect, notably beetles and moths. The empty suits and armour, as stand in for the human body, often reference exoskeletal forms of insects and suggest processes of transformation (malting via metamorphosis).
Finally, in the namesake work of the show, Penumbra, Oltmann presents an interpretation of a photographic image of a rocky landscape. It is in fact taken from a documentation of a rock-engraving site. “I wanted to interpret a scene that would carry a sense of deep time and distance – a forlorn place that looks untouched and uninhabitable,” explains Oltmann. “The circular format may recall the view through a telescope, further underlining the notion of distance.”
The Goodman Gallery is pleased to host a new body of work by Walter Oltmann from 13 August – 3 November 2007. This exhibition of new sculpture and works on paper in various media opens at noon on Saturday 13th, on this day the gallery will have extended hours from 09h30 to 17h00 and closes on 3rd November at 16h00.
Using hand-craft techniques related to weaving, Walter Oltmann creates his often monumental wire sculptures for which he has become well known. Process is still very much at the centre of Oltmann’s wire sculptures as he continues to explore domestic craft techniques, together with material and imagery that seems incongruous or disparate to these activities. This opens up various associations and meanings, and creates allusions to Oltmann’s African roots.
Walter Oltmann has continued fabricating wire sculptures by hand to arrive at hybrid forms suggesting an interface between references to insects and human features. These wire sculptures are based on his previous “Larva Suits”, empty garments not unlike suits of armour. These suits allude to insect larvae/ caterpillars as well as features from early forms of dress associated with Europeans who first arrived on African soil. Oltmann’s sculptures (including a few wire net pieces) and drawings continue to articulate ideas relating to the monstrous and the vulnerable and the unsettling of boundaries between categories.
Oltmann’s new body of work comprises a series of ink drawings, prints, and wire sculptures in which he incorporates the use of anodizing to achieve strong metallic colour. The metallic sheen and articulated surfaces created with aluminium, copper, brass and bronze give the works devotional and iconic aura which elevates the ordinary and suggests the possibility of transformation.
Surfacing is a group exhibition which allows for an exploration of the transient space between destruction and (re)construction. The exhibition aims to bring to light the fragments and residues that remain after destruction, and linger beneath a new form. In the preface to the 1961 edition of Frantz Fanon’s The Wretched of the Earth, Jean-Paul Sartre writes “violence is man re-creating himself”. Although Sartre speaks of violence as a necessity for overthrowing colonial power, “no gentleness can efface the marks of violence; only violence itself can destroy them.” This exhibition understands Sartre’s notion to address culpability, selfhood and violence and trauma involved in the process of becoming, scrutinizing and (re)creating.
Liza Lou’s Dirty White (2011-14) is a painting woven entirely out of glass beads. Over a period of months, Lou and her studio assistants from eight different townships in KwaZulu-Natal wove white A4 sheets out of identical white beads. The resulting painting tells the story of its own making: pock marks, streaks, ruptures and dirt are imbedded in a kind of code that speaks of the blood, sweat and tears of everyday life. For Lou, it is precisely in the moments of imperfection that beauty emerges – quoting from Leonard Cohen’s Anthem (1992), Lou explains “there’s a crack in everything, that’s where the light gets in.”
Kendell Geers’ sculpture Country Of My Skull is made from a cannibal trophy from New Caledonia; an artifact that by
its very nature is politicised and stands as a reference to violence and terror. The work’s title is taken from Antjie Krog’s literary account of the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission – and expresses the artist’s constant battle between the paradoxical distancing of himself from a prejudiced and vicious heritage and the acknowledgement that he can never be entirely removed from it. In WaitingWantingWastingWorking Kendell Geers has produced a generic bed made from polished steel and razor mesh. For Geers the industrial phenomenon of razor mesh production – based on separation and othering, is a metaphor for the predicament of South Africa during Apartheid – as well as a metaphor for the artist who was born into the apartheid regime and struggled to understand the violence he was born out of and simultaneously born into. WaitingWantingWastingWorking has been made to be beautiful and monumental, while at the same time maintaining the original violence which has so informed Geers’ production throughout his career.
One million points of light by Alfredo Jaar was shot off the coast of Angola, in Luanda. It was taken while standing, facing the ocean directly towards Brazil, in memory of the 14 million slaves sent from Angola to Brazil. Jaar’s photograph is inviting in its beauty and physicality; the way in which the image has been photographed and Jaar’s decision to use a lightbox to display the photograph means that surface of the image becomes almost tangible. It appears as if the light hitting the water becomes a layer that could be peeled back like skin, revealing the deep suffering to which the artist alludes.
In an abridged version of the large installation I was looking back, Mikhael Subotzky investigates the practice and mechanics of looking in relation to the history of South Africa, the history of photographic devices, and his own history as an artist. A number of the works on show have been smashed by the artist, creating a tension between document and object. The shattered surfaces become both unsettling and poignant, both concealing and recreating the image that lies beneath it.
mounir fatmi’s 3D rendered film Sleep Al Naim shows the writer Salman Rushdie sleeping peacefully, his bare chest heaving and falling to the rhythm of his breathing. The film borrows its imagery from Andy Warhol’s minimalist pop experimental film Sleep. Sleep Al Naim suggests the ambivalence of a physical abandonment, quiet and calm. Given the now notorious threats to Rushdie’s life, the film alludes to potential physical threat – and the viewer perhaps feels unease at watching Rushdie in a state of such vulnerability. This unease occurs against the alienation between the viewer and what is happening inside “Rushdie’s” mind – the ambivalence of quiet exists in these moments – when the torments of the mind exist in the unconscious.
William Kentridge’s 2007 body of work What Will Come is both a reflection on the way in which images are perceived and constructed by the human eye and a political statement about the violence and repercussions of colonialism. The works explore the Italian invasion of Ethiopia (at the time Abyssinia) in 1935-1936, drawing a connection between fascism and colonialism. Kentridge describes the works as “involving seeing twice. Seeing the image in one form and then reconstructing the image either in a mirror, or another optical device.” What Kentridge does then, is to deconstruct an image and ask for the viewer to reconstruct it using a series of optical devices. The drawings become fragments and remnants – with the full image existing only in the transient space of each viewer’s eye – and by extension mind. In evoking Italian amnesia about its colonial past, and the need for the re-evaluation of its violent heritage, Kentridge explores the duality of selfhood trauma involved in re-evaluating the self.
In Candice Breitz’s new video installation Treatment, the artist brings an original soundtrack to three key scenes from director David Cronenberg’s seminal film The Brood. In focusing on the family trauma at the heart of The Brood, Breitz pays tribute to Cronenberg’s ability to draw audiences into psychological identification with his characters, suggestively adding the voices of her own family to a palimpsest that already folds Cronenberg’s family narrative into that of the fictional family in The Brood. Staging an analogy between cinematic role-play and therapeutic role-play, The Brood and Treatment share – with their directors – a deep-seated interest in the formative nature of family relationships, a serious investment in the analytical potential of the moving image, and an absolute conviction in the potential of fiction to delve beneath the surface of things.
Haroon Gunn-Salie’s installation titled Amongst Men considers the figure of Imam Abdullah Haron, and the intersecting histories of Islam and the resistance to colonialism and apartheid in South Africa. The installation conceptually recreates Imam Haron’s funeral, which was attended by over 40 000 people after he was murdered by Apartheid police in 1969, by suspending a series of cast kufiya. It is accompanied by a haunting sound element: a recording of a poem written and read by James Matthews, which questions “Was he a patriot or terrorist?” – a reflection on the Imam’s legacy of resistance in contrast to his treatment at the hands of the Apartheid government.
Johan Thom’s work Recital (lend me your ears) consists of three prayer bead necklaces each fashioned from wooden beads, music strings and fifty individually engraved razorblades. Like a real set of prayer beads, the object is made to be handled as part of a highly personal, meditative reflection. The work exists as a silent symphony playing out in the mind of the viewer, and is constructed from the artist’s personal history as an immigrant from Europe. Thom states “this symphony has as much to do with my family, religion, as with war and the discovery of gold in Southern Africa in 1886. But more sinister meanings are present here: The appearance of sharp blades on the necklace serve to remind of the actual collection of ears as trophies by soldiers during the colonial wars in Africa. Instead of a crucifix each prayer bead terminates in another object associated with the larger history by and through which my identity is constructed.” As with Kentridge’s film, where the complete image exists only in the mind of the viewer, Thom’s violent heritage is replayed in the mind of each viewer who interacts with the components of the artist’s inherited history.
In The English Garden, Kudzanai Chiurai investigates Zimbabwe’s violent history as well as the way in which Africa is imagined in the west. Chiurai questions the “contemporary African condition” by juxtaposing the past and the present of a continent in the constant grip of violent civil wars. The painted body emerges from Chiurai’s landscapes as an ambivalent site, of simultaneous oppression and agency, as it negotiates the limits of action and freedom. It is precisely those moments of oppression and agency – destruction and reconstruction – that Chiurai explores, and that his characters simultaneously lament and cherish.
Goodman Gallery is pleased to present a group exhibition to end the calendar year, review some of the most significant works produced in 2013 and not yet seen in Cape Town, unveil new chapters in some ongoing projects, and to look forward to exhibitions coming up in 2014.
The exhibition features work by some of South Africa’s most important artists covering the full spectrum of contemporary artistic practice, and also serves as a chance to introduce a Cape Town audience to some of the exciting young artists the gallery has begun working with over the past year.
The exhibition will feature a new flip-book film by William Kentridge titled Second-Hand Reading, with music by South African composer Neo Muyanga. In the film, which premiered to great acclaim in New York in September, the pages of a 1914 edition of Cassel’s Cyclopedia of Mechanics, marked by the artist with charcoal, chalk and pencil, are flipped at twelve pages per second to create a characteristic and remarkable animation.
Kudzanai Chiurai will show the film Moyo – as well as a new photographic print from the project – in which the artist gently engages with notions of memory, mourning and loss. Moyo is the third film in a series that includes Creation and Iyeza, which formed part of his exhibition at dOCUMENTA in 2012.
In a series of photographs titled SABC Minimal Candice Breitz explores the studios and stages behind the scenes at the South African Broadcasting Corporation, an institution that, despite its radical transformation over the past 20 years, remains indelibly marked by its own role in the country’s political and social history.
Gerald Machona anticipates his upcoming solo exhibition in Johannesburg with The Edelweiss, a delicate sculpture of Switzerland’s national flower, made with decommissioned currency and suspended under a glass dome, that speaks powerfully of the impact that seemingly abstract economic policies have on our daily lives.
Haroon Gunn-Salie’s Turn the Other Way, originally installed in a demolished house in District Six, asks viewers to consider their own role in the devastation of the neighborhood that began in the 1960s, and the ongoing conflicts over the land on which it once stood. In transposing the installation to a gallery space on the edge of the district the work’s message is changed and complicated further.
In Land of Black Gold IV, recently shown on the exhibition Kaboom! Comics in Art at the Museum fur Moderne Kunst in Bremen, Siemon Allen strategically cuts up, splices and erases original Tintin comic strips by Hergé to create a large single panel that raises questions about language, cultural perspective and the contingent nature of narrative.
The exhibition also includes large-scale sculptural work by Kendell Geers, Sigalit Landau, Stuart Bird and Walter Oltmann, new and recent photographic work by Mikhael Subotzky, Adam Broomberg & Oliver Chanarin, Alfredo Jaar, David Goldblatt and Sue Williamson, and paintings by Moshekwa Langa, Clive van den Berg and Vusi Beauchamp.
Exhibition opening Saturday 14 December at 10h00
Goodman Gallery Cape Town will remain open throughout the holiday season, except on public holidays. The gallery will also be open on Monday 23 December and Monday 30 December.
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.
Goodman Gallery Cape presents Summer Show – opening on 15 December and running until 14 January. The exhibition has been designed as a review, focusing on new and recent work by South Africans artists either represented by or associated with the gallery. Important works from series produced by the artists over the past year are showcased, and the show also features a selection of works recently shown at the gallery’s Johannesburg spaces.
The exhibition includes prints from Siemon Allen‘s Records series, in which the artist explores images of South Africa through the collection and archiving of music records from the beginning of the 20th Century to the present day. Photography is strongly represented, with works from Jodi Bieber’s vibrant, urban-denizen take in her Soweto series, in marked contrast with David Goldblatt’s large-scale colour prints of rural South Africa. Mikhael Subotzky (who recently won the 2012 Standard Bank Young Artist Award for Visual Art) and Patrick Waterhouse show recent work from their ongoing collaboration on the Ponte City project.
A text piece by Stuart Bird is shown in anticipation of his upcoming solo show in January, Gerhard Marx presents exquisitely detailed and artisanally worked surfaces in his new works, continuing his preoccupation with notions of mapping, place and nature, and Walter Oltmann shows a powerful new addition in aluminium wire to his series of insect suit sculptures.
Paintings by Moshekwa Langa, Lisa Brice and Clive van den Berg explore abstraction and gesture in different ways; all three have produced significant bodies of new works which were well received during 2011. Minnette Vari‘s uncanny brush and ink drawings of the goddess/crone Baubo sit in awkward dialogue with Kendell Geers’ La Sainte Vierge.
This exhibition affords a fascinating look at the output of some of South Africa’s major artists, and will also showcase from our Johannesburg spaces works not yet shown in Cape Town, including Kudzanai Chiurai’s Revelations, a series of photographic tableaux exploring politics and power in Africa, new wood sculptures by Willem Boshoff, and a selection of drawings, linocut graphics and sculpture by William Kentridge.
Ryan Arenson | Walter Battiss | Deborah Bell | Justin Brett | Lisa Brice | Adam Broomberg & Oliver Chanarin | Adam Broomberg | Kudzanai Chiurai | Marlene Dumas | Claire Gavronsky | Robert Hodgins | William Kentridge | David Koloane | Moshekwa Langa | Alexandra Makhlouf | Brett Murray | Sam Nhlengethwa | Walter Oltmann | Jonah Sack | Kathryn Smith | Jaco Spies | Clive Van Den Berg | Diane Victor | Jeremy Wafer | Sue Williamson
For many artists, drawing forms part of a larger process – a loose way of visualizing an artwork before committing to it in a more permanent medium. But the act of drawing itself remains one of the oldest and most eloquent forms of artistic expression. Goodman Gallery Cape is proud to present a group exhibition of drawings entitled ‘The Marks We Make’, exploring notions of mark-making as assertions of ownership and expressions of violence, memory and play.
Drawing usually refers to pencil marks on paper. In this exhibition we approach the term more loosely, featuring a range of media to question what constitutes a drawing and what gives it power. Works will include photographs from the Red House series by Adam Broomberg and Oliver Chanarin, depicting the marks left behind by prisoners of Saddam Hussein in Iraq; wire and sculptural elements by Walter Oltmann and William Kentridge; installations by Jeremy Wafer, Jonah Sack and Justin Brett, as well as more traditional pencil, oil and charcoal drawings by Sue Williamson, Lisa Brice and Sam Nhlengethwa.
‘The Marks We Make’ brings together South African artists to explore the ways in which marks shape our environments and inform our perspectives. Bodies are circumscribed, silenced or marginalized by the invasive marks of violence. But these marks can also be used to express an identity, stake out a position or form communities. Territory is claimed, land contested, and ownership asserted through the use of marks, both physical and symbolic. The exhibition seeks to interrogate the ways in which these marks act to create the contingent, political spaces within which we form ourselves, and the role they play in shaping our personal and cultural memories.
Born in 1960 in Rustenburg, Gauteng, South Africa, Walter Oltmann’s main area of focus is sculpture, and more particularly in fabricating woven wire forms, which sometimes reference local craft traditions. He has researched and written on the use of wire in African material culture in this region and is deeply interested in the influence of these traditions in contemporary South African art. He has had numerous solo exhibitions with the Goodman Gallery, and has created several large-scale commissions for venues such as the Zeitz Sculpture Garden in Segera, Kenya.
My main area of creative focus is in sculpture, and more particularly in fabricating woven wire forms which sometimes reference local craft traditions. My drawings are also based on and explore similar references. I have researched and written on the use of wire in African material culture in this region and am deeply interested in the influence of these traditions in contemporary South African art. While I exhibit my artworks quite regularly on group and solo exhibitions, I have in recent years also been involved in large-scale commissions.
In my sculptures I use images of natural phenomena (human, plant and animal) and play with the idea of mutation, hybrids and reconfiguring the familiar. Through dramatically enlarging and/or transposing features of one to the other, I play with the paradox between vulnerability and the monstrous. Using the language of craft, my artworks are always a product of labour and time.
2014 In the Weave, Standard Bank Gallery, Johannesburg
2007 Walter Oltman Solo exhibition at Goodman Gallery, Johannesburg
2001 Standard Bank young Artist travelling exhibition
2008 Shared exhibition with Peter Schütz at the Goodman Gallery, Cape Town
1998 Icons and Idols, Two person exhibition with Peter Schutz, Goodman Gallery
1993 Two person exhibition with Peter Schütz, Goodman Gallery
2014 From Sitting to Selfie, Standard Bank Gallery, South Africa
2008 Matrix Natura, 18th International Contemporary Textile Exhibition,
2007 Sasol Wax Art, Johannesburg Art Gallery/Izikho Gallery, Cape Town
2005 In the Making: Materials and Process, group exhibition at Michael Stevenson
Contemporary Gallery, Cape Town
2004 Michael Stevenson Contemporary Gallery, Cape Town (shared exhibition with Kevin
Brand and Samson Mudzunga)
2003 Coexistence: Contemporary Cultural Production in South Africa, The Rose Art
Museum, Brandeis University, Boston, USA
1998 Holdings: Refiguring the Archive, Group exhibition, WITS University
1995 Three Sculptors – Three Readers, Three person travelling exhibition with
Neels Coetzee and Peter Schütz
1985 Cape Town Triennial Exhibition
Current: Lecturer, Division of Visual Arts, University of the Witwatersrand,
2007 Sasol Wax Art Award
2001 Standard Bank Young Artist Award for Visual Art
1982-1985 MA WITS University, Johannesburg
1978-1981 BA, University of Natal, Pietermaritzburg
2008 SAB Headoffice, Sandton, Johannesburg (2 large banners)
2007 wall sculpture for the Wits Medical School foyer
2005/6 Wits Origins Centre: world map interpretation
2004 SAB wall sculpture, Sandton, Johannesburg
2003 New Constitutional Court, chandeliers and lamp shades, JHB
2003 Arabella Sheraton Hotel, Cape Town: suspended sculpture
2003 Dimension Data: suspended sculpture, Bryanston, JHB
2000 Sandton Convention Centre: wall sculpture
1999 ABSA North Towers: sculpture, Johannesburg
1998 MTN wall sculpture, Sandton, Johannesburg
1997 Durban Convention Centre: wall sculpture
1995 Gencor wall sculpture, Johannesburg
Press for Walter Oltmann