Lisa Brice | Kudzanai Chiurai | Soly Cissé | Tom Cullberg | Claire Gavronsky | Robert Hodgins | David Koloane | Moshekwa Langa | Minnette Vári
There is an element of uncertainty inherent in the medium of paint – it is a fluid material that allows for various modes of expression, and as such is an ideal starting point for an examination of notions of nebulousness and accident.
Goodman Gallery Cape presents Open End, a group exhibition of paintings by both emerging and established artists that speaks to the element of uncertainty in artistic production and expression, and illustrates a process that seeks to arrive at meaning through search.
In an environment where so much emphasis is placed on work that is conceptually pre-determined, where the work is crafted around and invested with a deliberate and established message or meaning, the show aims to create a space for paintings produced without a clear conceptual starting point, focusing on the wrestle or the hunt for meaning rather than the expression of a packaged and determined project.
It is a simultaneously dangerous and powerful position to work from, unstable and vulnerable on the one hand, but filled with the potential of new and unexplored ideas, of work that is discursive and receptive to chance on the other. The title Open End refers not only to the absence of resolution, but to the very manner in which the work is approached: an embracing of uncertainty – or, to paraphrase Francis Bacon, a courting of accidents – in the search for meaning.
The exhibition will feature new works by Lisa Brice and David Koloane, and a painting created in situ by Kudzanai Chiurai. Tom Cullberg will show a series of abstract, perhaps metaphysical paintings dealing with the tensions that exist between the rational and the chaotic. Two anamorphic landscape-like paintings by Minnette Vári – first seen earlier this year as part of her solo show Parallax at Goodman Gallery Johannesburg – as well as several typically humorous and confrontational works by Moshekwa Langa will be included. Dakar-based artist Soly Cissé will show nine small monochrome paintings deftly straddling the figurative and the abstract, Claire Gavronsky will show an oil painting addressing notions of memory and loss, and several works by the incomparable Robert Hodgins illustrate the flex and the power of the medium.
David Koloane (1938 – 2019) was born in Alexandra, Johannesburg, South Africa. Koloane spent his career making the world a more hospitable place for black artists during and after apartheid. Koloane achieved this through his pioneering work as an artist, writer, curator, teacher and mentor to young and established artists at a time when such vocations were restricted to white people in South Africa. A large part of this effort involved the initiatives Koloane helped establish, from the first Black Art Gallery in 1977, the Thupelo experimental workshop in 1985 and the Bag Factory Artists’ Studios in 1991, where he served as director for many years. Koloane also tutored at the Federated Union of Black Artists (FUBA) in 1979 and became the head of the fine art section and gallery from 1985 to 1990.
Through his expressive, evocative and poetic artwork, Koloane interrogated the socio-political and existential human condition, using Johannesburg as his primary subject matter. Koloane’s representations of Johannesburg are populated with images of cityscapes, townships, street life, jazz musicians, traffic jams, migration, refugees, dogs, and birds among others. Imaginatively treated, through the medium of painting, drawing, assemblage, printmaking and mixed media, Koloane’s scenes are a blend of exuberant and sombre, discernible and opaque pictorial narratives.
Koloane’s work has been widely exhibited locally and internationally. In 1999 he was part of the group exhibition Liberated Voices at the National Museum of African Art in Washington DC. In 2013, Koloane’s work was shown on the South African pavilion at the 55th la Biennale di Venezia and on the group exhibition My Joburg at La Maison Rouge in Paris. In 1998, the government of the Netherlands honoured Koloane with the Prince Claus Fund Award for his contributions to South African art. Koloane was also awarded an Honorary Doctorate twice, once from Wits University in 2012, and again from Rhodes University in 2015.
Earlier this year Koloane was the subject of a travelling career survey exhibition, A Resilient Visionary: Poetic Expressions of David Koloane, which opened at IZIKO SANG in June and will travel to Standard Bank Gallery and Wits Art Museum in October.
Minnette Vári’s (b.1968 in Pretoria, South Africa) body of work conflates history with the self, examining how identity arises out of a traumatic past. As Kendell Geers observes in a catalogue essay published in 2004 by Kunstmuseum Lucerne, ‘Minnette Vári has in her lifetime witnessed the fall of apartheid and all its structures, followed by the new democracy.’ In response to this history, Vári has written a history of herself in relation to this trajectory, one that attempts to recover what is lost, to give shape and voice to forgotten or erased memories. In her videos and drawings, Vári frequently depicts her own body enduring a disfiguring metamorphosis – she merges with and emerges from nature as well as from the concrete architecture of modern cities. The female ‘protagonist’ of her video works is sometimes archetypal and sometimes spectral, a persona who ingests and is ingested by time.
Vári has exhibited her work since the early nineties, participating in such group exhibitions as the Johannesburg Biennale, Memoris, Intimas, Marcas at MUHKA in Belgium, the Venice Biennale, the Seoul International Media Art Biennale, and the Havana Biennale. Her solo exhibitions include Aurora Australis at the Standard Bank Gallery, Johannesburg, Chimera at Art Unlimited, Basel, Vigil at Serge Ziegler Galerie, New York, and shows in 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2013 at Goodman Gallery, Johannesburg.
In early 2016, The Standard Bank Gallery hosted a major retrospective exhibition on Vári, entitled Of Darkness and of Light.
Vári currently lives and works in Johannesburg.
Lisa Brice (b.1968, Cape Town, South Africa) negotiates the precarious terrain of artistic production, as she moves between practices of spontaneous drawing and figure painting. She makes use of unexpected painting and printing techniques on a variety of surfaces, which include canvas and tracing paper. For Brice, the act of tracing often leads her to a repetition of similar motifs or figures in her work, sometimes biographical, and at other times art historical: ‘I am attracted to the idea of repetition,’ Brice remarks, ‘Chasing that high, stories told and retold.’
In 2006 Brice had her first solo exhibition of paintings at Goodman Gallery Johannesburg, titled Night Vision, in which she reflected on the uncertainties of childhood. In 2009, a solo show, More Wood for the Fire, was presented at Goodman Gallery Johannesburg; the exhibition detailed Brice’s relationship with the island of Trinidad. In 2011, Brice’s work was included in the Vitamin P2 publication, Phaidon’s major anthology of international painting. In 2012, Brice presented a solo exhibition titled Throwing the Floor at Goodman Gallery in Cape Town. She has had subsequent shows at Goodman Gallery Johannesburg in 2015 titled Well Worn, and in June 2016 she was included on a show at Camden Art’s Centre in London Making & Unmaking curated by Duro Olowu. Brice had her first solo museum exhibition in the UK at the Tate Britain in 2018, where she exhibited large scale paintings which addressed the longstanding art-historical tradition of the female nude.
The artist lives and works in London, UK.
Robert Hodgins was born in Dulwich, England in 1920. In 1954 he became a Lecturer at the School of Art, Pretoria Technical College, where he remained until 1962. Then he took up a position as Journalist and Critic for Newscheck magazine. Between 1966 and 1983 he was a Lecturer at the University of the Witwatersrand Fine Art Department. At the end of 1983 he retired to take up painting full-time. Some paintings convey a feeling of deep seriousness and sadness; the paintings depict a sense of confusion that many people experience. However Hodgins believed that being an artist is about creating something new, an artist perfects the art of ingeniously reinventing content within society.
“Being an artist is about putting something into your subject matter that isn’t inherently there,” wrote Hodgins in 2000. “You are not at the mercy of your subject matter, it’s the content, and what you put into it, what you do with it, what extract from it, and what you put it with, that is so exciting. If you are aware of this, then you begin to build on the content of your whole life. Before you know where you are, you’re already thinking about the next work, and you could live to be 300. Paintings can be one-night stands or lifetime love-affairs – you never know until you get cracking”