Goodman Gallery presents Fugitive Marks, Clive van den Berg’s first solo exhibition in London, in which the artist uses landscape painting as a vehicle with which to unearth suppressed narratives.
Van den Berg’s 40-year practice has formed part of a small movement of artists pioneering the insertion of queer perspectives into the larger rewrite of South African history.
Throughout his practice, the artist has engaged with the idea of the land as a porous receptacle for lived experience. This presentation of new large-scale paintings considers the body and the land as loaded sites which carry memories and scars.
The South African artist’s distinct visual language moves between allegory and abstraction as Van den Berg excavates what exists – unresolved – below the surface. For this exhibition, he returns to the concept of ‘fugitive marks’ which he defines as ‘ghosts from the past co-existing with human beings in the present’.
In this vein, a swelling of earth or a pile of stones that once marked a grave or battle site make up the grammar of his landscape vocabulary: ‘these vestigial mutterings of geography are prompts that I respond to in my work, connecting the remnant to its repressed or forgotten source.’
Clive van den Berg (b. 1956, Zambia) is an artist, curator and designer, who works on his own and in collaboration with colleagues in a collective called trace, whose primary activities are the development of public projects. He has had several solo exhibitions in South Africa, and his work is regularly exhibited abroad. His public projects have included the artworks for landmark Northern Cape Legislature and, since he has joined the trace team, museum projects for the Nelson Mandela Foundation, Constitution Hill, Freedom Park, the Workers Museum, The Holocaust and Genocide Centre and many other projects.
Van den Berg has much experience working on large-scale institutional projects with teams representing diverse constituencies: urban planners and policy makers, architects, landscape designers, museum curators, historians, community liaison officials and representatives of local and national governments. In the Northern Cape, for example, where he worked with the Luis Ferreira da Silva architects, he pioneered a new strategy for integrating forms of the local landscape and indigenous aesthetics into the overall building design, while also training local artisans as part of a skills transference project aimed at long-term sustainability. The result is a world-renowned and uniquely South African state edifice: a monument to the people of the Northern Cape.