In Soundings, In Passage – a solo exhibition of recent work at Goodman Gallery Johannesburg – Clive van den Berg explores new as well as familiar terrain. Characteristically, he is not bound by medium, presenting monoprints, paintings, as well as a large-scale sculpture. Many of these works – both physically and conceptually – are the result of time spent in the United States, where van den Berg was awarded a Smithsonian Artist Research fellowship, and worked at the LeRoy Neimen Center for Print Studies while on a residency at Columbia University in New York City.
In the catalogue Clive van den Berg: Unlearning the Grounds of Art (published by Goodman Gallery on the occasion of Soundings, in Passage), Rosalind C. Morris refers to Clive van den Berg’s insistence “that he is seeking a new kind of language, that he is attempting to break syntax without relinquishing its necessity." Morris continues to to explain that the "enormous range of works, the multiplicity of media, the vacillation between saturated colour and simple lines in monochromatic prints, the darting between allegory and abstraction: these tensions and polarities arrest and then excite the viewer, who encounters in the artist’s abundant new offerings the residue of earlier concerns but, equally, the determined departure from them. The title of the 2011 show gives voice to that mobility, and suggests an exploratory moment. But with its improbable invocation of the practice of maritime measurement (in relation to an corpus that is primarily concerned with the earth, the underground, and the landscape of a landlocked city, Johannesburg), we are alerted to the fact that this exploration requires something more than the well-trained eye. We must find our way, or plumb the depths, feelingly. Not with sentiment, but with a kind of heightening of the senses, and, more importantly, a re-oriented vision.”
Clive van den Berg is based in Johannesburg, South Africa and was born in Zambia in 1956. He is an artist working in various disciplines. Besides his studio practice he devotes much time to the curation and design of heritage projects, sometimes on his own and sometimes through trace, a company comprising professionals from different disciplines, including architects, historians, writers and artists. They design, research and curate exhibitions, public art projects and museum developments. Many of these are projects of redress, activating reflection on the past and future envisioning. These include The Worker’s Museum and Women’s Gaol in Johannesburg and he is currently working on the exhibit design for Freedom Park in Pretoria. His art has been shown around the world – in South Africa, Berlin, Charleroi, Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur, New York, Paris, San Francisco, São Paulo, London and Stockholm. It has also earned him several major prizes, including, internationally, a Civitella Ranieri fellowship and a Smithsonian Artist Research fellowship.