BY BILLY SUTER
SOMETHING different and quite intriguing has been lined up for viewing at Durban’s KZNSA Gallery, overlooking Bulwer Park in Glenwood, from March 21.
It is Five Degrees of Realism, an exhibition that has five artists showing art that reflects on the work of one or more of the other exhibiting artists.
Running until April 9, the exhibition features artists who are a part of an ongoing peer-mentoring and discussion group.
The artists’ work is related, in the first instance, by the orthodoxy and immediacy of communicating via marks on a canvas, says a gallery spokesman.
Interaction between a painting’s nominal appearance and its experience by the participating viewer is, further, a key concern linking the painters’ work. The works, although founded chiefly on observation, depart to differing degrees from the specifics of the source so as to amplify the interpretive options of the subject.
A guiding motivation in assembling this exhibition is that new connections might be made, evident through the juxtaposition of the works. To this end, each of the artists intends exhibiting a work which reflects on the work of one or more of the other exhibiting artists.
Among those exhibiting is Louise Hall, for whom, according to a press release, “the process and medium of drawing is central, where gestural quality is achieved though calligraphic linear and overlaid mark-making”.
The human figure and anthropomorphic forms are abiding in Louise’s genre. In her process of drawing from observation, memory and imagination, and in exploring ideas of transition, adaption and impermanence, these images have evolved towards a more abstract and ambiguous treatment.
These forms are at once solid and fluid; static and pulsating; and allude to both physical and metaphysical states of being, says the press release.
Vibrant gestural quality is apparent in all her art work, spanning painting, drawing and print making.
In 2013, as one of the first candidates in South Africa, Louise completed a practice-led PhD at the Centre for Visual Art (CVA), University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN), where she currently works.
Terence King, who is also exhibiting, obtained an MAFA from the University of the Witwatersrand. His work attempts to locate those features of the physical world which, while founded on direct study, refer more generally to the way in which any given section of the environment reflects its histories of alteration, possession and intervention.
How places are given meaning and how this meaning might be governed by our own experience of place, is a part of the larger subject matter.
Individual paintings will tend to draw on a combination of detailed, identifiable elements and loosely layered and excavated passages of paint to convey both the unruliness of the environment and its containment through the geometry of occupation.
Through layered and excavated paint, Terry uses familiar moments in the built and natural environments to reflect on the associative histories of places, says the press release.
He is formerly professor in Art History and Fine Art at the University of KwaZulu-Natal. Prior to this, he taught at the Universities of the Witwatersrand and South Africa, and the then-Natal Technikon.
Also showing work is Heather Gourlay-Conyngham, whose paintings have always depicted people.
Currently, she is concentrating on stripping the figure and its context to their bare essentials. This simplification extends to her use of subdued colours, with white predominating, which suggests a reduced palette.
She uses these devices not only to conjure the illusion of apparently white objects and people, but also to probe the allegorical roles they assume, says the press release.
It is her desire to instil in her paintings an innate energy in an understated manner.
After acquiring a BAFA. from the University of Natal in 1978 and an HED from the University of South Africa in 1980, she combined art teaching and painting before becoming a full-time painter in 2012.
In addition to having three solo exhibitions since then, Heather won the first Sanlam Portrait Award in 2013.
Confrontation, transgression and humour are the central dialogue in the work of another exhibitor, Terri Broll, who holds both a Master’s Degree in Fine Art and a Master’s Degree in Clinical Psychology.
These two trajectories closely inform the process of her art-making as well as the final images of her work which may be seen as varying degrees of abstracted figuration.
The press release explains that Terri’s work attempts to simulate in the relationship between the artwork and the viewer, the work of the unconscious which characterises the therapeutic relationship.
Her preferred medium is oil and wax, the latter giving the work an ambiguous texture. The final image of each work is the product of a process where the initial subject is continually lost and found in the intuitive connection between artist and canvas.
Another who is represented on the exhibition, Ian Calder, recently retired from the Centre for Visual Art at the University of KwaZulu-Natal in Pietermaritzburg, where, as associate professor, he taught ceramics, drawing and art history since 1982.
These academic disciplines inform the conceptual strands of his creative productions, both in image-making and object-making, in which his principal themes of personal memory, iconic local motifs, environmental- and topographical-features of KwaZulu-Natal are closely interwoven.
His recent watercolour paintings and drawings express the tensions he feels between palpable natural objects or vistas and their envisioned symbolic meanings as designated markers of fragile memories and remembered personal histories, says the oppress release.
The KZNSA Gallery, which also features a gift shop and small restaurant/coffee shop, is closed on Mondays, but open from 9am to 5pm every Tuesday to Friday.
It is open from 9am to 4pm on Saturdays. On Sundays and public holidays the gallery hours are 10am to 3pm.