Grace of Abstraction: On Mia Thom, Chris Soal, Jennifer Morrison, and Mark Rautenbach

February 8, 2021 - Ashraf Jamal | ARTTHROB

Abstraction is a misnomer that assumes one is dealing with ideas and not things or events. It is all three – mindful, palpable, eventful. If abstraction has been divorced from the Real, this is because we’ve maintained a hoax that existence precedes essence – or vice versa, depending on one’s point of view – when in fact all of life, all art, fudges more commonly than it is parsed. The Real is an ideology, as is Abstraction. If the former now dominates – it has since Plato, who loathed artists – it is because now, most fervently, we ascribe to narrative, story, imputed-expected-received outcomes. Ours is a material age, an age of palpable Ideas, of people as representative of Ideas. It is no accident that we find ourselves avidly and blinkerdly preoccupied with indices such as race-age-gender-sexual persuasion, at the expense of all else that makes up a life. We subtract rather than abstract, shut out and shut in, the better to solidify what differentiates rather than connects us. Balkanised, separatist, we are fast abandoning the synthetic and synergetic power of abstraction.



January 25, 2021 - Wanted Reporter | WANTED

We speak to Mark Read, chairman of the Everard Read group of galleries and also a passionate botanist and conservationist.



Long Read | Regarding Lady Skollie’s ‘Bound’

December 18, 2020 - DANIELLE BOWLER | NEW FRAME

Lady Skollie’s latest exhibition adds to the thinking of Patric Tariq Mellet, Gabeba Baderoon and Pumla Dineo Gqola on slave history and its sexual violence, and how it remade our world.


Rewilding IO Makandal by Ashraf Jamal

December 1, 2020 - Ashraf Jamal | ART TIMES

‘To contaminate, to keep things intertwined in a transformative mutualism is to be sticky with the trouble on terra, now. How else does one envision these speculative futures, if not to look through and think with the earth, with every non-human thing and being in and on earth to create terra visions.’

What’s in a name? In the case of Io Makandal much that deserves our attention. Given the artist’s concern with the imbalance built into binary systems, be they technological, ecological, social, or political, her first name, Io – pronounced I/O – is a striking moniker. The definitions vary: input/output, industrial/organisational, instead of, in out, interoperability, insertion order, instrument operator (land surveying), idiot operator (as in an I/O error). Makandal delights in the acronym, then tells me that Io also Jupiter’s largest moon, the most volcanically active in our solar system. Makandal keeps all these readings in play, but what most compels the artist is how we absorb the imbalances within perceived order and alter an inherited Western Enlightenment project which has come to define the way we see and experience the world.



November 5, 2020 - KEELY SHINNERS | ARTTHROB

A couple of years ago, I was working as an assistant at a gallery. We were hosting a group show in which one of the works was to be a giant bird’s nest, sewn together out of hay from the artist’s farm, complete with several dozen handmade ceramic eggs. When the crated artwork arrived,we were somewhat irritated by its contents. The nest was dirty. It shed clumps of straw each time it was touched and left streaks of dirt on the floor and our clothes. Worst of all, though, were the bugs: muggies buzzing in our ears, fleas chowing our legs. After three days, our director had had enough. The nest was to be sent back, the eggs placed on a plinth like any normal sculpture. 


REVIEW: Pneuma: Swain Hoogervorst’s ‘In Between Spaces’

September 29, 2020 - Ashraf Jamal | ARTTHROB

After a deluge, one of many in a sodden Cape Town winter, light pours through the studio window in Woodstock, Cape Town. The mountain and highway are blotted out, concrete buildings soaked, a turquoise blue garage-roof the only bright thing in a blur. On the windowsill a plate of rusty lemons, a pot plant, rusty too, though life still lingers green. On a wooden desk the stricken plant casts its shadow. Two lamps are angled about drying sunflowers in a sparkling blue vase, near ovoid, an upended eye. Lapis Lazuli. Madonna blue.

 Swain Hoogervorst, Deconstruction of a Vase of Flowers (3), 2020. Oil on Belgian linen, 40 x 30cm

In this painting of a vase of limp sunflowers, Hoogervorst has sketched the rudimentary coordinates and concordances that allow one to take hold of the world, see it. A line, fleck, squab of colour, runnel of paint, a shape, then another. Because nothing quite holds the eye, directs attention, looseness prevails. A sketch is not the beginning of something, it is everything, and nothing, or, nothing quite, because what binds the eye’s saccadic flickering grasp is the realisation that forms, shapes, the things we espy, take hold barely.  Forms quaver, things judder, a featureful yet featureless soup. Morphogenetic, things – paintings – self-organise. A feedback loop, the eye, brain, imagination, seeks structure inside the unpredictable, but what it cannot countenance, pull together, is the void. 


In conversation with Lionel Smit

September 8, 2020 - France Beyers | STELLENBOSCH VISIO

Acclaimed South African artist Lionel Smit takes Stellenbosch Visio editor France Beyers through his studio, sharing his inspirations and the creative process behind some of his most distinctive works. 

Known for his contemporary portraiture, large canvases and sculptures, Smit has carved out an international career through his distinctive art. Smit’s work has been exhibited at the National Portrait Gallery in London and was selected as the ‘face’ of the BP Portrait Award. Over the past 10 years, he has established a substantial international following with collectors ranging from the Standard Chartered Bank to Laurence Graff Art Collection at Delaire Graff wine estate.

We meet the artist in his studio ahead of his exhibitions at Everard Read and the KUNST art fair in October 2020.


Blessing’s Chaotic Pleasure visualizes black child’s future through art

August 31, 2020 - Mpiletso Motumi | IOL

Johannesburg - Blessing Ngobeni uses art to express his opinion.

“It is the best way for me to influence or engage in global matters that affect me and the world I live in.”

His solo exhibition, “Chaotic Pleasure”, is now showing at the Standard Bank Gallery.

“Art enables me to narrate stories of the past, historical events that affect the present life of a black child. I am able to visualise the future life of the black child through art.”


Acclaimed South African Sculptor Deborah Bell Revisits Classic Works

August 24, 2020 - Chris Jenkins | arts & collections

Deborah Bell, one of South Africa’s most eminent and critically acclaimed artists, returns to London with an exhibition at Everard ReadSentinels is a major exhibition of monumental sculptures and more than 30 new paintings created over the past two years. At the heart of the exhibition are eight towering, 2.5-metre-high sculptures, Sentinels (2020). Cast in bronze, their origins trace back to the series of nine sentinels the artist made in 2003.



Coded Inscriptions: Blessing Ngobeni's "Chaotic Pleasure'

July 6, 2020 - Review by Barnabas Ticha Muvhuti | Artthrob

The Merriam Webster online dictionary defines Stockholm Syndrome as ‘the psychological tendency of a hostage to bond with, identify with, or sympathize with their captor.’ It is hard to make sense of the multiple problems we face in this fast-moving world, so we soldier on like we are addicted to the disorder. Blessing Ngobeni’s ‘Chaotic Pleasure’ invites us to pause and reflect on the complex issues of power and abuse. It is also an ideal critical response to the confusing, dramatic, and uncertain times we are caught up in. The exhibition includes large scale mixed media paintings, sculpture and drawings in the artist’s trademark animated form. The artist also incorporates fascinating coded inscriptions.  The work is featured in the inaugural virtual National Arts Festival (vNAF), itself a response to the outbreak of the novel COVID-19 pandemic. Ngobeni is the Standard Bank Young Artist for Visual Art for 2020.

The work in this exhibition addresses many issues traversing from the intensely personal – A Thing Of The Past Haunts I-VI  finds Ngobeni reflecting on a troubled past in the countryside, and in the urban jungle that is Johannesburg – to the pressing forces of the everyday. Key national problems like the contentious land ownership issue, tribalism, and corruption that derails progress are not spared in this conceptually rich, raw, and uncompromising show. Ngobeni is a proud African who wants to see a united continent moving forward, embracing progress. This is seen through his damning critique of xenophobia and the genocides of the past. In Shopping For Black Skin I & II, the artist also problematizes conflicts fueled by the outside world bent on stealing the continent’s resources amidst the chaos they create in cahoots with greedy African puppet leaders.


To read more, follow the link to full review here: