SeeingEye examines the bond between painting and photography

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All sorts by Alex Emsley

SeeingEye is an upcoming group exhibition at the BRUNDYN+GONSALVE gallery from 27 June – 14 August. Leigh-Anne Niehaus, the show's curator, talks to Steyn du Toit about the stylistic and conceptual bond between painting and photography.

When planning a group exhibition, what are some of the first things you consider/look out for?

The process is usually quite organic: it’s a combination of what I'm interested in (usually reading about) at the moment, the needs of the gallery and, of course, access to artists whose artwork speaks toward the premise of the proposed show.  I’ve been curating shows on and off for five years and I’ve almost always picked up the “seed” for a group exhibition from overhearing something a gallery visitor has said.

Where did the concept for your latest group exhibition, SeeingEye, originate from?

When BRUNDYN+GONSALVES changed its name from iArt almost a year ago, the gallery also rethought its strategy. This included diversifying our stable of artists and strengthening our photographic sector. A few months later I overheard gallery visitors comparing a Zwelethu Mthethwa photograph and a painting by Matthew Hindley in a way that got me thinking. Coming from a background in photography I saw an opportunity to stimulate that dialogue further.

Bessie by Andrew Putter

How would you describe this exhibition?

SeeingEye features photographs that mimic the style of paintings and vice versa; painting that references photographic tropes such as blur (Karin Preller), pixilation (Matty Roodt) or hyperrealism (Alex Emsley) and photographs that directly cite traditional painting subjects (Andrew Putter) and styles (Zander Blom). Featuring the work of five painters and four photographers, the artworks included have in some instances been isolated from their intended conceptual pool. Further to this, the included artworks represent only a small section of those paintings and photographs that influence one another. They are intended to offer enough of a parallel to encourage fresh dialogue.

Why is it that painting and photography work so well together as artistic mediums? 

Painting and photography have had a complicated relationship from the beginning, each medium taking its turn to influence the other more. Assumed characteristic differences between the two have all but fallen away with artists pushing the boundaries of medium specificity over the past four decades. Painting’s aesthetic is now so inextricably linked to photography that reflecting on the one often leads to a deeper understanding of the other.

Death Star by Chad Rossouw

The joint photographic contingent of SeeingEye challenges the photograph’s indexicality by attempting to control and construct the photographic referent. Ballen, Blom and Putter achieve this through composing scenes that either mimic painting styles or employ painting within the image, while Rossouw contests the photograph’s authenticity by reconstructing images already made. On the painting side Preller and Aggenbach are inspired by visual photographic traits and so too is Roodt, who builds fragmented pixel paintings. Hindley, on the other hand, draws his influence from film stills.

Who are the artists whose work you feature in SeeingEye?

SanellAggenbach, Roger Ballen, Zander Blom, Alex Emsley, Matthew Hindley, Andrew Putter, Karin Preller, Matty Roodt and Chad Rossouw.

Headless by Roger Ballen

 For more information, visit the BRUNDYN+GONSALVES website.

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