Jaco van Schalkwyk: A Land I Name Yesterday
From October 29 to November 26, 2019, Barnard gallery, Cape Town will present A Land I Name Yesterday. Initiated by Jaco van Schalkwyk, this collaborative project includes the work of two other Johannesburg-based artists, Jenna Burchell and Wayne Matthews.
Known for his expansive and highly accomplished oil paintings of amongst other things forest ‘interiors’ and jungle thickets, van Schalkwyk’s immersive canvases – often presented in series as in Arcadia(Joburg Art Fair, 2016) and Nemora (Volta Basel, 2018) – are simultaneously sublime and unsettling. Rendered in a predominantly monochrome palette, these psychologically charged spaces serve, on this occasion as both the armature for and backdrop to Jenna Burchell’s ingenious soundscape interventions.
Burchell is recognised for her masterful merging of mediums and sensorial interpositions – particularly that of sculpture / objects and sound as in her extensive project Songsmith 2015-2018. For this collaborative project, Burchell extends her repertoire to engage the ‘mindscapes’ of Jaco van Schalkwyk and Wayne Matthews. Having documented their brainwaves using an EEG device, the artist created soundscapes of their experiences which now ‘feed through the exhibition space in a ghostly manner’. In addition to these soundscapes Burchell works with compressed carbon, also a product of trees, setting up a haunting installation of three dimensional black trees in the gallery’s smaller second space positioned adjacent to the main hall.
Wayne Matthews’ carefully sutured collages – reconstructions of 19 Century German woodcuts of trees and woodland landscapes – set up a compelling dialogue with van Schalkwyk’s contemporary vistas. Together they explore a similar language albeit through contrasting vernacular. Matthew’s works have a historical accent that visually evoke the characteristics and qualities of classical maps. Invested in ‘shifting images’ the artist literally cuts them up and remakes them thereby imbuing the reconstructed images with a fragile beauty.
A Land I Name Yesterday explores liminal spaces, mutating landscapes, notions of conservation and what may be considered a ‘Contemporary Romanticism’. Commenting on this collaborative project, Jaco van Schalkwyk summarizes their collective objectives – ‘We’re creating a new land, a new world’.
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