Goodman Gallery Cape Town
15 December 2016 – 14 January 2017
Lisa Brice / Kudzanai Chiurai / David Goldblatt / Alfredo Jaar / Samson Kambalu / Kendell Geers / William Kentridge / Liza Lou / Gerald Machona / Gerhard Marx / Shirin Neshat / Walter Oltmann / The Brother Moves On / Jessica Webster
For its end-of-year Summer Show, Goodman Gallery Cape Town has gathered together a selection of important pieces from both new and existing bodies of work by its artists. Taken as a whole, the show presents a textured and vibrant series of engagements with the artists’ social and political environments through photography, sculpture, drawing, prints and video. The exhibition serves an as opportunity to show works not yet seen in Cape Town, and to introduce visitors to artists newly represented by the gallery.
Despite its title, David Golblatt’s A family picnic in the north-west. 15 August 2009 focuses on a macro view of the landscape and structures in which this human scene is taking place. The photograph illustrates Goldblatt’s change in narrative style since shifting to working in colour. As writer Christoph Danelzik-Brüggemann says in the book Intersections: “In parallel with a continued emphasis on striking human situations, in landscapes he developed a visual language that accorded more meaning to space than to time. The formats became larger and a plethora of extremely precisely recorded details (blades of grass, stones, person) combined to form tableaux which the viewer’s eye can explore at leisure. As an overall picture emerges from these details, the viewer becomes aware that the image tells of our times, of the people who live in this land, and of the forces that shape it.”
Walter Oltmann’s Bristle Disguise uses woven alumnium and razor wire to reference local craft traditions. Covered in spikes that recall both the elaborate dress often used in ritualised African dance and the pulsating energy radiated in the activity, his bodysuit merges craft and art. Oltmann has researched and written extensively on the use of wire in African material culture in South Africa and is deeply interested in the influence of these traditions in contemporary South African art. “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,” he says.
In 2005, American artist Liza Lou first travelled to South Africa to initiate an art project with Zulu beadworkers. Starting with 12 women from the surrounding townships of KwaZulu-Natal, Lou’s project has flourished and has now grown to a collective of over 25 artisans. Her commitment to this community of Zulu women and to exploring the process and testing the limits of her chosen material has led to a minimal, contemplative practice in which the material has become the subject. Untitled #13 is a prime example of the end result; a formal object that, through subtle imperfections, bears witness to the manual labour and personal investment at stake.
Country of my skull was one of the installations included on The Brother Moves On’s solo exhibition, Hlabelela, at Goodman Gallery Johannesburg. The exhibition questioned each member’s personal histories, cultural background and beliefs as a means of unsettling the idea of a homogenised black experience and its acceptance by white art institutions and discourse. The performances, installations and videos explored the complex identity of black youthful opposition but also questioned whether these contemporary traditions can exist within the established traditions of art institutions and art discourse.
Lisa Brice’s Well Worn 5 was part of a body of work that featured a cast of female protagonists engaged in autobiographical acts of looking and being looked at. Grooming, making up, stripping down, dressing up within the confines of domestic, private or veiled interiors, they range from depictions of adoration and loathing, to defiance and reinvention. The mirror reflection reoccurs as a central motif, simultaneously functioning as an alter-ego and an imagined audience beyond the private, as well as a formal device within the painting.
In Life Magazine, April 19, 1968, Alfredo Jaar deconstructs a renowned photograph of Martin Luther King’s funeral that provides a stark visual essay on the racial prejudices that lead to King’s assassination. The work typifies Jaar’s interest in the politics of images: their effect on modern society ”bombarded by thousands of images without warning, without mercy, containing messages of consumption crafted by marketing and communications experts”. He directs the viewer to the parts of the visual experience that they may not have considered in their reckoning of who has power, who does not, and why.
Samson Kambalu’s Nyau Cinema consists of site-specific performances captured on and made in conversation with the medium of film. Born in Malawi and now based in London, Kambalu regards his work as a form of playful dissent that fuses the Nyau gift-giving culture of the Chewa, the anti-reification theories of the Situationist movement and the Protestant tradition of inquiry, criticism and dissent. “In my tribe, the Chewa, excess time and resources are not sold; instead it is squandered in ‘useless’ activities such as the arts, funerals, initiations etc. – all led by Nyau masks,” he says. “The role of the Nyau mask is thus to orchestrate the giving of gifts,” which in a capitalist culture, he explains, would be considered the squandering of surplus time and wealth. He invokes the concept of “Gule Wamkulu” (literally the “Great Play”), a ritual masked dance performed by the Chewa, which he describes as “really the creation of ‘Situations’, where a gift can be given without incurring a debt”.
Gerhard Marx’s Transparent Territory series consists of drawings that have been constructed from the fragments of decommissioned and discarded terrestrial maps. The focus in these works is on the act of taking the flat, rectangular depictions of landmass and territory (which maps are intended to be), and reconfiguring them into mineral-like geometric constructions in which folds, facets and overlays construct spatial illusions along with a sense of depth and interiority within the flatness of the map. The series takes inspiration from early depictions of perspectival illusion, most notably Giotto’s clustering of architectural structures. The works also burrow into the flatness of geographic depiction through an act of ‘cartographic mining’, in which the solidity of the earth’s surface is ruptured into a transparent palimpsest of geography and historical time that undermines the authority and singular viewpoint of the two-dimensional map.
Kudzanai Chiurai’s Genesis [Je n’isi isi] CI and Genesis [Je n’isi isi] XI, from his photographic series of the same name, recount the stories of the men who ventured with Livingstone into unexplored territories in central Africa. They included other Europeans who sought similar adventures and the porters and guides who bore the weight of their supplies as well as slaves freed from Arab slave traders. It re-imagines Livingstone’s journey with the guiding principles that Christianity and commerce were inseparable.
Drawing is at the heart of William Kentridge’s artistic practice, forming the basis for works in other media, particularly film. South Africa’s preeminent contemporary artist, Kentridge has earned international acclaim for his layered and complex work, which includes operas, theatre productions and films incorporating his own sculpture and drawings as well as collaborations with dancers and composers. Waiting for the Fire, a large-scale drawing in Indian ink, illustrates his facility as a draughtsman, clearly evident in the animated charcoal drawings that first brought him to the world’s attention.
In the series Our House Is On Fire, originally made as a special commission for the Rauschenberg Foundation, Shirin Neshat was inspired by time she spent in Egypt in the aftermath of the revolution in 2011. In close-up portraits and details of hands and feet, meticulously inscribed with the words of poets of the Iranian revolution, Neshat tells a story of loss and mourning particular to her subjects and simultaneously universal.
In Untitled (Influx I) Gerald Machona has collaborated with Mozambican choreographer Guiamba to create a performance-based installation that seeks to transform migratory objects and garments. A Zimbabwean now living in South Africa, Machona’s work has dealt repeatedly with the theme of migration. Crucial to this artwork is an attempt to disrupt the 55-minute hour scheme used by Cape Town garment factories, where an assembly line of seamstresses was governed by a clock that would run 55 minutes of production and 5 minutes of recess every hour. Rather than rely on a clock to keep time and a metronome to indicate tempo, the artists have drawn rhythm from a sewing machine to stitch together the dance and installation.
Every year Jessica Webster dedicates some time to working as roughly and freely as possible with ink and bleach on paper. “By now I have amassed a huge stack of A3 works, but I see this set of earlier pieces as some of the most successful.” Using ink and paper allows the artist “to get back in touch with some of the fundamentals of my practice: this is the relationship between the two-dimensional surface and the imaginary spaces that composition orders,” she says. Inks 1-15 references Sol Le Witt’s series of drawings Variations of Incomplete Open Cubes (1974). “While Le Witt’s work is interpreted as symbolising the purely visual metaphors of rationality and the Enlightenment subject, my painted copies evoke the more fragile and unstable aspects of geometry. Using Le Witt’s series as readymade references me to focus on how the bare minimum of painterly strokes can create conflict between the sense of depth caused by geometrical perspective and the fluidity and gesturality of hand-painted lines. In some of the works I continue this investigation with other objects, provoking the imaginary sites upon which geometry and order comes to be projected.”
David Goldblatt (1930 – 2018) was born in Randfontein, a small mining town outside of Johannesburg, South Africa. Through his lens, South African he chronicled the people, structures and landscapes of his country from 1948, through the rise of Afrikaner Nationalism, the apartheid regime and into the democratic era – until his death in June, 2018. In particular, Goldblatt documented the people, landscapes and industry of the Witwatersrand, the resource-rich area in which he grew up and lived, where the local economy was based chiefly on mining. In general, Goldblatt’s subject matter spanned the whole of the country geographically and politically from sweeping landscapes of the Karoo desert, to the arduous commutes of migrant black workers, forced to live in racially segregated areas. His broadest series, which spans six decades of photography, examines how South Africans have expressed their values through the structures, physical and ideological, that they have built.
In 1989, Goldblatt founded the Market Photography Workshop, a training institution in Johannesburg, for aspiring photographers. In 1998 he was the first South African to have a solo exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. In 2001, a retrospective of his work, David Goldblatt Fifty-One Years began a tour of galleries and museums. He was one of the few South African artists to exhibit at Documenta 11 (2002) and Documenta 12 (2007) in Kassel, Germany. He has held solo exhibitions at the Jewish Museum and the New Museum, both in New York. His work was included in the exhibition ILLUMInations at the 54th Venice Biennale in 2011, and has featured on shows at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and Barbican Centre in London. In 2017, Goldblatt installed a series of portraits from his photographic essay Ex-Offenders in former prisons in Birmingham and Manchester. The portraits depict men and women, from South African and the UK, at the scene of their crimes, with accompanying texts that relate the subjects’ stories in their words. In the last year of his life, two major retrospectives were opened at Centre Pompidou in Paris, and the Museum of Contemporary Art in Sydney. The Goldblatt Archive is held by Yale University, in New Haven, Connecticut.
Goldblatt is the recipient of the 2006 Hasselblad award, the 2009 Henri Cartier-Bresson Award, the 2013 ICP Infinity Award and in 2016, he was awarded the Commandeur des Arts et des Lettres by the Ministry of Culture of France.
Alfredo Jaar (b. 1956, Santiago, Chile) is an artist, architect, and filmmaker who considers social injustices and human suffering through thought-provoking installations. Throughout his career Jaar has used different mediums to create compelling work that examines the way we engage with, and represent humanitarian crises. He is known as one of the most uncompromising, compelling, and innovative artists working today.
Through photography, film and installation he provokes the viewer to question our thought process around how we view the world around us. Jaar has explored significant political and social issues throughout his career, including genocide, the displacement of refugees across borders, and the balance of power between the first and third world.
Jaar’s work has been shown extensively around the world. He has participated in the Biennales of Venice (1986, 2007, 2009, 2013), Sao Paulo (1987, 1989, 2010) as well as Documenta in Kassel (1987, 2002).
Important individual exhibitions include The New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York (1992); Whitechapel, London (1992); The Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago (1995); Moderna Museet, Stockholm (1994);The Museum of Contemporary Art, Rome (2005) and The Nederlands Fotomuseum (2019). Major recent surveys of his work have taken place at Musée des Beaux Arts, Lausanne (2007); Hangar Bicocca, Milan (2008); Alte Nationalgalerie, Berlinische Galerie and Neue Gesellschaft fur bildende Kunst e.V., Berlin (2012); Rencontres d’Arles (2013); KIASMA, Helsinki (2014); and Yorkshire Sculpture Park, UK (2017).
The artist has realised more than seventy public interventions around the world. Over sixty monographic publications have been published about his work. He became a Guggenheim Fellow in 1985 and a MacArthur Fellow in 2000. He was awarded the Hiroshima Art Prize in 2018, and has recently received the prestigious Hasselblad award for 2020.
His work can be found in the collections of The Museum of Modern Art and Guggenheim Museum, New York; Art Institute of Chicago and Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; MOCA and LACMA, Los Angeles; MASP, Museu de Arte de São Paulo; TATE, London; Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; Centro Reina Sofia, Madrid; Moderna Museet, Stockholm; MAXXI and MACRO, Rome; Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Humlaebeck; Hiroshima City Museum of Contemporary Art and Tokushima Modern Art Museum, Japan; M+, Hong Kong; and dozens of institutions and private collections worldwide.
The artist lives and works in New York, USA.
South African-born, Belgian artist Kendell Geers changed his date of birth to May 1968 in order to give birth to himself as a work of art. Describing himself as an ‘AniMystikAKtivist’, Geers takes a syncretic approach to art that weaves together diverse Afro-European traditions, including animism, alchemy, mysticism, ritual and a socio-political activism laced with black humour, irony and cultural contradiction.
Geers’s work has been shown in numerous international group exhibitions, including the Venice Biennale (2007) and Documenta (2002). Major solo shows include Heart of Darkness at Iziko South African National Gallery in Cape Town (1993), Third World Disorder at Goodman Gallery Cape Town (2010) and more recently Songs of Innocence and of Experience at Goodman Gallery Johannesburg (2012). His exhibition Irrespektiv travelled to Newcastle, Ghent, Salamanca and Lyon between 2007 and 2009. Geers was included on Art Unlimited at Art 42 Basel in 2011. Work by Geers was included on Manifesta 9 in Genk, Limburg, Belgium and a major survey show of his work was exhibited at Haus der Kunst, Munich, Germany in 2013. Earlier this year Geers held a solo exhibition, The Second Coming (Do What Thou Wilt), at Rua Red in Dublin.
William Kentridge was born in Johannesburg, South Africa in 1955. Kentridge’s artistic practice, expressionist in nature, is entirely underpinned by drawing. He is perhaps best known for his series of eleven animated films, Drawings for Projection, the earliest of which was completed in 1989 and the most recent of which will premiere in 2020. These hand-drawn films follow the narrative of fictional mining magnate, Soho Eckstein, his wife and her lover, Felix Teitlebaum. This saga is permeated with anecdotal elements from Kentridge’s own life and the political events, which unfolded in South Africa’s transition from apartheid to democracy.
In addition to being an accomplished printmaker in his own right, Kentridge’s openness to collaboration has allowed him to produce rich and extensive series of kinetic sculptures, bronzes and hand-woven tapestries. His passion for the theatre has brought him to work, as creative director, on several acclaimed opera productions ranging from Mozart’s Magic Flute , to The Nose by Shostakovich (2010) and most recently two operas by Alban Berg, Lulu (2015) and Wozzeck (2017). Kentridge has also created a number of original performance pieces including Refuse the Hour (2012); Triumphs & Laments (2017) on the Tiber river in Rome; The Head & the Load (2018) and most recently, the chamber opera, Sibyl (2019).
Kentridge’s career has spanned five decades and his work has been shown in major museums and biennales, around the world since the 1990s, including Documenta in Kassel, Germany (1997, 2003, 2012), the Museum of Modern Art in New York (1998, 2010) and the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago (2012), Musée du Louvre in Paris (2010), FORTUNA in Brazil (2013), Ullens Centre for Contemporary Art in China (2015), Whitechapel Gallery in London (2016), Louisiana Museum in Denmark (2017), Reina Sofia Museum in Spain (2017), Liebieghaus Museum in Germany (2018), Kunstmuseum Basel (2019), Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa in Cape Town (2019), and most recently MUDAM in Luxembourg (2021).
Kentridge is the recipient of honorary doctorates from several universities including Yale and the University of London. In 2012 he presented the Charles Eliot Norton lectures at Harvard University. In 2013 he served as Humanitas Visiting Professor in Contemporary Art at Oxford University, and Distinguished Visiting Humanist at the University of Rochester, New York, and in 2015 he was appointed an Honorary Academician of the Royal Academy in London. In 2017 he received the Princesa de Asturias Award for the Arts, Spain, and in 2018, the Antonio Feltrinelli International Prize, Italy. Previous awards include the Kyoto Prize, Japan (2010), the Oskar Kokoschka Award, Vienna (2008), the Kaiserring Prize (2003), and the Sharjah Biennial 6 Prize (2003), among many others.
Kentridge is currently working towards major survey exhibitions at The Royal Academy in London for 2022, and The Broad Museum in Los Angeles.
Samson Kambalu (b. 1975, Malawi) is an artist and writer working in a variety of media, including site-specific installation, video, performance and literature. His work is autobiographical and approaches art as an arena for critical thought and sovereign activities. Kambalu’s work fuses aspects of the Nyau gift-giving culture of the Chewa, the anti-reification theories of the Situationist movement and the Protestant tradition of inquiry, criticism and dissent.
Kambalu has been featured in major exhibitions and projects worldwide, including the Dakar Biennale (2014, 2016), Tokyo International Art Festival (2009) and the Liverpool Biennial (2004, 2016). He was included in All the World’s Futures, Venice Biennale 2015, curated by Okwui Enwezor. More recently Kambalu was the Malawi Cultural Consultant for the film The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind and translated the script into Chichewa. He also was included on the 2019 Dallas Medianale.
Kambalu studied at the University of Malawi (BA Fine Art and Ethnomusicology); Nottingham Trent University (MA Fine Art) and Chelsea College of Art and Design (PhD Fine Art). Kambalu, who began his academic career at the University of Malawi, has won research fellowships with Yale University and the Smithsonian Institution, and is an associate professor of Fine Art at Ruskin School of Art, and a fellow at Magdalen College, Oxford University.
Walter Oltmann (born 1960, South Africa) is a practicing artist who lives and works in
Johannesburg. He obtained a BA Fine Arts degree from the University of Natal,
Pietermaritzburg (1981), and an MA Fine Arts degree (1985) and PhD in Fine Arts degree
(2017) from the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg. He taught in the Fine arts
department at the University of the Witwatersrand from 1989 to 2016.
Oltmann has an extensive record of creative work produced since the early 1980s, including
a number of public commissions. Since the 1980s he has developed an interest in the
relationship between fine art and craft. In his own practice he employs hand-fabricated
processes of making and has researched wire craft traditions in southern Africa. His
sculptural works are executed by way of weaving in wire and using handcrafting methods
that reference African and Western traditions of weaving. He is deeply interested in the
influence of craft traditions in contemporary South African art.
In his artworks Oltmann makes connections to domestic textile practices and explores such
forms of making in evoking fragility and the passage of time. He often combines aspects of
decorative ornament with subject matter that seems somewhat contradictory or disturbing
in relation to handcrafted embellishment.
Gerhard Marx (b. 1976, South Africa) develops his projects through an engagement with pre-existent conventions and practices. This process entails careful acts of dissection and rearrangement, which allow Marx to engage the poetic potential and philosophical assumptions of his chosen material, developing original drawing, sculptural and performative languages. Marx completed his undergraduate degree at the Michaelis School of Fine Art, UCT and received his MA (Fine Art) (Cum Laude) from Wits School of Art, Johannesburg.
Marx’s work is shown regularly at international art fairs, held in numerous public and private art collections and was included on the South African pavilion at the 2013 Venice Biennale. Marx has been involved in the making of numerous public sculptures, including The World On Its Hind Legs, a collaboration with William Kentridge (Beverley Hills, LA), Vertical Aerial: JHB, (the Old Ford, Constitution Hill, Johannesburg), The Fire Walker, in collaboration with William Kentridge (Queen Elizabeth Bridge, Johannesburg) and Paper Pigeon, in collaboration with Maja Marx (Pigeon Square, Johannesburg). In 2018 Marx participated in the third season at the Centre for the Less Good Idea with his project Vehicle, in collaboration with musicians Shane Cooper and Kyle Shepherd. Vehicle is scheduled to form part of the Holland Festival in June 2019.
He has extensive experience in theatre, as a scenographer, director, filmmaker and playmaker, including REwind: A Cantata for Voice, Tape and Testimony (directed by Marx, interactive film by Gerhard Marx and Maja Marx, composed by Philip Miller), performed at the Royal Festival Hall, Southbank, London (2010), the Market Theatre, Johannesburg (2008) and the 62’Centre, William College, Massachusetts (2007).
Marx is a fellow of the Sundance Film Institute, the Annenberg Fund and of the Ampersand Foundation. He lives and works in Cape Town, South Africa.
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.
Kudzanai Chiurai (b. 1981, Zimbabwe) was born one year after Zimbabwe’s emergence from white-ruled Rhodesia. Chiurai incorporates various media into his practice, which is largely focused around cycles of political, economic and social strife present in post-colonial societies.
Chiurai’s artwork confronts viewers with the psychological and physical experience of African metropolises. From large mixed media works and paintings to photography and video, Chiurai tackles some of the most pressing issues facing these environments, such as xenophobia, displacement and inequality.
Chiurai has held numerous solo exhibitions since 2003 and has participated in various local and international exhibitions, such as Figures & Fictions: Contemporary South African Photography (2011) at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London and Impressions from South Africa, 1965 to Now (2011) at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Other notable exhibitions include The Divine Comedy: Heaven, Purgatory and Hell Revisited curated by Simon Njami at Museum für Moderne Kunst in Frankfurt (2014) and SCAD Museum of Art, Savannah USA (2015), as well as Art/Afrique, Le nouvel atelier (2017) at the Fondation Louis Vuitton in Paris, Regarding the Ease of Others (2017) at the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa, Genesis [Je n’isi isi]- We Live in Silence at IFA in Stuttgart, Germany and Ubuntu, a Lucid Dream (2020) at the Palais de Tokyo in Paris.
Chiurai’s Conflict Resolution series was exhibited at dOCUMENTA (13) (2012) in Kassel and the film Iyeza was one of the few African films to be included in the New Frontier shorts programme at the Sundance Film Festival in 2013. Chiurai has held numerous solo exhibitions with Goodman Gallery and has edited four publications with contributions by leading African creatives.
At present the artist lives and works in Harare, Zimbabwe.
Gerald Machona is a Zimbabwean born Visual artist with a Master’s Degree in Fine Art from Rhodes University and a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Cape Town, completed at the Michaelis School of fine art. Machona’s work has been included on several prominent international exhibitions, which include the South African Pavilion at the 56th Venice Biennale in Italy, All the World’s Futures and at the 20th Biennale of Sydney, The future is already here – it’s just not evenly distributed. Machona’s work has also appearedin exhibitions at the Brooklyn Museum in New York and at the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa in Cape Town.
Machona works with sculpture, performance, new media, photography and film. The most notable aspect of his work is his innovative use of currency—particularly decommissioned Zimbabwean dollars—as an aesthetic material. Machona’s current work engages with issues of migration, transnationalism, social interaction and xenophobia in Africa.
In 2013, Machona featured in Mail and Guardian’s 200 Young South African’s supplemental and was selected by Business Day and the Johannesburg Art Fair in 2011 as one of the top ten young African artists practicing in South Africa. In 2019 Machona was included on the group exhibition Still Here Tomorrow to High Five You Yesterday at Zeitz MOCAA in Cape Town.