Vivien Kohler: Clay Opera

Vivien Kohler: Clay Opera

From June 6 to 24, 2017, Sulger-Buel Lovell will present Clay Opera by South African artist Vivien Kohler. The concept of liminality; the liminal city and its people, lies at the core of the artist’s work, which explores migration, marginalisation and displacement in the urban landscape of post-Apartheid South Africa.

“His work has an immediate and intimate relationship with the materiality of the city” – Charles Gore

Kohler constructs two and three dimensional assemblage pieces; appropriating discarded material, painting naturalistic figures and detailed replications of packaging material (a layered visual metaphor signifying transience, migration and displacement), to articulate challenging social and economic circumstances that affect those on the periphery. “My works do not hide the realities of the unfair perception, but symbolically display it in relations to the liberating verdict of the human spirit.” Fascinated by man’s ability to transcend the conceptual decay, he captures with gentle rawness the complexity of human disposition. His work seeks to illuminate the duality of lived experiences by depicting, with an air of surreality, meditative moments of the individual, mentally cocooned from, yet physically enveloped by life’s detritus.

“The spectrum from deficiency to authenticity is discovered along the journey of being. Aspects of the persona gleaned from the volume of time. Each page an individual. Each letter an idiosyncrasy. Characters discovered along the opera of life, each playing a roll of a lifetime.” – Vivien Kohler

Vivien Kohler was born in 1976 in Cape Town, and holds a National Diploma in fine art from the Ruth Prowse School of Art and Design, Cape Town. He is an experimental mixed media painter. Kohler has exhibited his work locally and internationally, including Is There Still Life curated by Michael Godby which featured William Kentridge, Penny Siopis and Willie Bester; Given to Fly (2012) and De(re)tritus (2014). He has received awards at the ItWeb / Brainstorm competition (2012) and Lovell Gallery artist competition (2013). His work is housed in both public and private collections, namely the Nandos Collection, the Hollard Collection, SAB and Fusion UK.


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