SMAC Art Gallery's latest exhibition, Collection 16, is a group exhibition of recent and older work by 16 leading artists with various backgrounds and modes of production. The artists were selected by the gallery on the basis of previous and intended future collaboration.
A triptych of small portraits by Johann Louw reveal Louw’s masterful handling of oils that enables an intimate and honest exposure of his female subject. Anton Karstel’s seductive rendering of a bikini girl in oil captures the essence of suggestion, his painterly language simultaneously enticing and distancing the viewer.
Barend de Wet introduces a welded abstract steel sculpture covered with bright enamel paint that plays alongside his large ‘un-knitted’ wool work. Sue Pam-Grant’s interactive sculpture, Cusp: Prelude to the Three Remaining Useless Molars, 2012, is decidedly nostalgic. A simple tune heightens the experience of the work which plays as one reels on the archival pianola score paper. As if an ancient object, one must struggle slightly to turn the old handles of this large wall-mounted music box.
The collection further includes watercolours by Georgina Gratrix, a provocative text-based work by Ed Young and an impressive new seascape by Jake Aikman.
A highlight of the exhibition is a significant mixed media collage by Peter Clarke entitled Struggle, 1988. Located in South Africa’s political strife of the 1980s, this striking diptych marked a stylistic shift towards the use of collage, gouache and text, evident in many of Clarke’s later works. Clarke's palpable engagement with his medium in this work becomes, in itself, a poignant statement of resistance.
Exhibited last year at the Smithsonian's National Museum of African Art in Washington DC, Old Bones, Old Genes, a Population Groups Case, 2010, showcases Sandile Zulu’s idiosyncratic use of fire, water, air and earth as his metaphorical means of expression.
New to the gallery, the internationally renowned photographer Roger Ballen presents work from his Boarding House, 2009, series. Known for his black and white photography, Ballen manipulates his subjects and props within haunting compositions to create surreal worlds.
Another newcomer to the gallery, Berlin-based artist Abrie Fourie shows photographs featured in his recently published monograph, Oblique, that quietly capture everyday sightings. Fourie’s three serenely simple images of an empty hallway, a sleek marble corner and an oddly inviting telephone appear suspended and prolonged in a moment that resonates with a notably absent human presence.
Willem Boshoff’s work, PI, 2009, is a kind of lighthearted ode to pi or π. The ubiquitous numerical constant is a value that can never end and will never repeat itself. This engraved square aluminium ‘plaque’ attempts to solidify the ‘unsolidifiable’, and makes universal associations with permanency and labeling.
Also included in the collection is a provocative Simon Stone painting from 2000 entitled Wit Hond, as well as a dream-like interior by Kate Gottgens and an ink portrait by London-based artist, Whitney McVeigh.
Collection 16 marks an exciting moment for SMAC as we open our renovated Cape Town gallery on the ground floor of the In-Fin-Art Building in Buitengracht Street. In addition SMACplus is now located in the space adjacent to the gallery. SMACplus starts off with a selection of South African Modernist art.
Collection 16 runs until 25 June 2012. For more information, please visit www.smacgallery.com.