From January 31 to February 17, 2018, Everard Read Gallery, London will present Winter, a group exhibition of new paintings and sculpture by African artists Liberty Battson, Nic Bladen, Guy Ferrer, Colbert Mashile, Nigel Mullins, Neill Wright and Simone Wurz.
Liberty Battson is inspired by Modernism, more specifically the Modernist theories around abstraction and the pursuit of ‘truth’ and ‘true art’. The artist uses statistics as a way of representing ‘the truth’. For almost a year, Battson has focused her research on Google, statistically the most used search engine, and tracked what users wanted to know the numbers of/ truth about. Topical issues such as xenophobia, ISIS, and the refugee crisis are coupled with Xbox 360, Minions and Instagram. For example, one month Zuma is replaced by zombies and then to Zimbabwe as the most popular search item – as we choose what is relevant or search-worthy. In tracking what gets bumped off, moves up or remains, and recording the results, Battson aims to reveal something a little honest and closer to a truth. The data reflects current affairs and is constantly changing. Statistics are not only the subject matter of her work but also govern the abstraction – the colours and lines that represent these search patterns on the internet.
South African artist Nic Bladen has become well-known for his extraordinary botanical sculptures, which demonstrate the technique he pioneered of casting entire plants in bronze and sterling silver. Born in 1974 in Pretoria, Bladen trained in the field of dental technology, a discipline that requires incredible precision and attention to detail. After working for eight years, making gold and porcelain crowns in various dental laboratories in South Africa and the UK, Bladen developed an interest in sculpture and began working at the Bronze Age Foundry, learning large-scale bronze casting, as well as all aspects of metalwork. Knowledge of the two seemingly different fields of dental technology and bronze casting precipitated Bladen’s experimentations in 2001 (casting flowers and leaves). In marrying the micro and macro disciplines, he pioneered a way of developing perfect castings of organic matter. His way of preserving/fossilizing plants and flowers involves a method known as ‘lost wax casting’, or ‘cire perdue’, and it involves creating moulds from actual organic materials, before transforming these into one-off sculptures of entire plants.
Guy Ferrer’s work though mainly dedicated to sculpture and painting, also explores writing and architecture. Recent honours include a monumental bronze sculpture for the French embassy in Singapore and a large fresco painted for the French embassy in Bakou (Azerbaijan). The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (O.E.C.D) commissioned and permanently displays the large triptych titled Liberté-Egalité-Fraternité.
Painter and visual artist Colbert Mashile has developed a unique iconographical language within South African art, often dealing with the mystical, mythological and archaic elements of traditional African culture and its legacy in present-day life. Mashile’s early work dealt primarily with the traumatic, cruel and highly controversial circumcision rituals practised widely upon young black initiates of both sexes, in different guises, as ceremonial, tribal, coming-of-age rites of passage. These practices are criticized and condemned locally and internationally as cruel and inhumane, especially in terms of their long-term psychological impact. He draws on his own experiences and memory in an autonomous and intuitive process, creating vivid and intricate imagery, recalling both Surrealism and the satirical Pop art of artists such as Phillip Guston or more recently, George Condo.
Nigel Mullins completed his Master of Fine Arts degree with distinction at Rhodes University, South Africa in 1993. Since graduating, he has held 16 solo exhibitions in South Africa, Scotland, England, and Germany and participated in almost 50 group shows. His work has been represented in the Cape Town, Johannesburg, Frankfurt and London art fairs and in the Mumia International Underground Animation Festival. In 2014, he exhibited a body of work called Chaotic Region at Oliewenhuis Art Museum in Bloemfontein, South Africa.
Multidisciplinary artist Neill Wright is based in Johannesburg, South Africa. His satirical work braves the world of social commentary in a bold, colourful and humorous manner. Wright explores various mediums, such as sculpture, printmaking and painting as modes of expression, drawing inspiration from the interconnected worlds of media, popular culture, politics and societal interactions in an attempt to create panoramic views of current issues, hardships, complexities and paradoxes present within South African and to some extent African society as a whole. Through highlighting the absurdities of a collectively experienced ‘everyday’, his work subverts the tragic, placing the viewer in a space where they are confronted by opposing feelings: the melancholic reality and the ironic hilarity of his compositions.
Simone Wurz was born on May 1, 1986, in the Eastern Cape. She began working in watercolour to later progress into painting, in her final year at the University of Stellenbosch. She enjoys portraying glimpses of anonymous people, as well as depicting their stories in their day-to-day lives, in lifelike watercolour paintings. The idea that individuals can be recognised at a distance through gait or manner intrigues her. When viewed at a distance, her subjects optically appear minuscule.
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