What a treat in store for art lovers at the moment. We’ve had a guest staying at Liz at Lancaster who comes out from London twice a year – ex-Saffer but has been out of the country for a long time. She always loves Joburg with all its transformations and ‘buzziness’ and is continually struck by the range of visual culture available.
Faith47 at David Krut on Jan Smuts Ave is intriguing. Fragments of a Burnt History is Faith47’s first solo exhibition in South Africa and one in which she focuses on her experience in her own country and Joburg in particular. Taking found objects she overlays these with her own marks and meaning, leaving the trace of the people who were there before as poignant and resonating echoes. It’s a ‘small’ exhibition but compelling, thought-provoking and very powerful. If you want to get a sense of Jozi ‘re-presented’ this is an exhibition to experience.
Much of the sub-text of Faith47’s exhibition is about layers of mark-making and meaning-making and traces of people who ‘have been here before’. This theme is alluded to in a very different way in Rina Stutzer’s exhibition For the Time Being at Everard Read Gallery down the road on Jellicoe. Many of Stutzer’s work depict temporary shelters – caravans, tents, even protective cloth. There is a sense of the transient , the impermanent, the ever-changing – not only in terms of iconography/ subject matter but also through style and medium. Many of the works use metal filings which will develop a patina that will change and morph over time, so reinforcing, through embodiment, a sense of flux and evanescence. On the walls of the exhibition are quotes reinforcing these themes: ‘The beauty of things imperfect, impermanent and incomplete’ and ‘It’s better to travel than to arrive’. Layers of ‘lived-in landscapes’, function as palimpsests of memory and trace, of overlay and echo, of dream and existence. In representations of dwellings which are abandoned or which have been stylized and frozen in memory, the only constant is change. ‘In truth all sensation is memory’.
Across the road at Circa on Jellicoe, Bronwen Lace’s A Tendency towards Complexity, offers two very different viewing experiences. Upstairs in the main gallery the shrine-like space is used to full effect for the monumental work entitled God’s Finger. As with her work in the Speke Gallery at ground level, Lace works with the delicate and often translucent medium of fishing line, which here radiates from a bright white light source towards the ground, with the rays activated by shards of coloured glass. The effect of the empty cathedral-like exhibition space, the dramatic lighting, and the theatrical setting, are all quite Baroque in feel, recalling in contemporary form, Bernini’s representations of St Theresa’s ecstasies. Even the sense of tapping into the popular, the visually accessible and the emotionally arresting, speak of a Baroque staging and sense of affect. It’s a wonderful work – I loved it. But then I’ve always been a sucker for theatricality and Baroque accessibility!
Bronwen’s works in the downstairs section are more enigmatic and unsettling. Here she works with a sense of intricate delicacy which is at the same time threatening with the potential for menace and destruction. .. along the lines of ‘Welcome to my parlour said the spider to the fly’.
I really enjoyed this exhibition and, as with Faith47 and Rina Stutzer’s For the Time Being – none should be missed. Make sure you get to them before they close.