This is the place where individuality meets the group

A sense of youthful exuberance marks the group show, This Is the Place, at Salon 91 in Cape Town until October 31. Paul Senyol’s lyrical line; Andrezej Urbanski’s clinical yet quirky geometric abstraction; Andrew Sutherland’s light, gentle brushwork; Dani Loureiro’s sculptural word-play; Jade Klara’s poppish graphic-design work and Wesley van Eeden, who seems to straddle the styles on offer – these all add up to an intriguing exhibition. The artists also collaborate on a number of pieces.

“This is the place” where differences co-exist and come together, where the sexy and superficial co-exist with the profound and philosophical. “This is the place” where the totality is more than the sum of its parts. Consider It Was Us, a layered image by Senjol, Sutherland and Klara. A tiger seems to rest on the glass surface (by Klara), beneath which Senyol’s unmistakable wiry lines are interspersed with Sutherland’s realism (for lack of a better word). 


Photo by Dani Loureiro and Andrezej Urbanski

The trio creates a tantalising image; one is uncertain how to piece these strands together. That it is one unified image is in itself meaningful: together the surface ignites in layers that emanate from distinct consciousnesses and distinct stylistic interventions.

The tiger rests on the bed of roses. The fact that an image appealing to the eye results perhaps gives one a sense that indeed differences can not only tolerate each another but can also combine to build and establish something the individual, alone and self-absorbed, simply cannot achieve. It Was Us, rather than trying to assert self in contradistinction to the social, transmutes into an “us” without swallowing the individual in the process. Is that not a lesson for politics?

The collaboration of the geometrically precise Urbanski with word-sculptor Loureiro confirms this reading: her words become neon-like electrical signals as Urbanski’s spray painting lends itself to Loureiro’s playful word “sculptures”. Each enlivens the other. Duality is overcome as sculptural form and paint coalesce.

Urbanski’s “centre stage” piece, marked by a title of coded letters and numbers, is a deluge of diamonds, an orderly mass of structured lines painted with precision, a Google-like design (re)contextualised as fine art. The carefully nuanced squares, planes and “perspective” of Urbanski’s other works on this show display an exactitude broken asunder – a square is not quite a square, a cube not quite a cube and a vanishing point is only suggested. These “abstract” paintings are formal suggestions asking us to see, through the mass of things, some sort of coherence, while also deconstructing that perception.

Finally, Sutherland’s This Is the Place is an evocative landscape with a bluish cast. The actual location of this place is unsure — does it matter? When one is in a particular place, more often than not one really wants to be elsewhere, or, if not, to “capture” the place so one may move to a “new” place, to remember it, change it, own it, return to it. So is one ever actually there?

This show should appeal to a diverse audience. Its spirit is warm and, without trivialising it, it is not heavy. It is particularly encouraging to see artists working together on a single piece, offsetting extreme individualism and opening up a dialogical relationship between self and other.

PW Botha wagged his finger and banned us in 1988 but we stood firm. We built a reputation for fearless journalism, then, and now. Through these last 35 years, the Mail & Guardian has always been on the right side of history.

These days, we are on the trail of the merry band of corporates and politicians robbing South Africa of its own potential.

To help us ensure another 35 future years of fiercely independent journalism, please subscribe.


Tension over who’s boss of courts

In a letter, Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng questions whether Justice Minister Ronald Lamola has acted constitutionally

SABC sued over ‘bad’ clip of Ramaphosa

A senior employee at the public broadcaster wants compensation for claims of ‘sabotage’

Soundtrack to a pandemic: Africa’s best coronavirus songs

Drawing on lessons from Ebola, African artists are using music to convey public health messaging. And they are doing it in style

In East Africa, the locusts are coming back for more

In February the devastating locust swarms were the biggest seen in East Africa for 70 years. Now they’re even bigger

Press Releases

The online value of executive education in a Covid-19 world

Executive education courses further develop the skills of leaders in the workplace

Sisa Ntshona urges everyone to stay home, and consider travelling later

Sisa Ntshona has urged everyone to limit their movements in line with government’s request

SAB Zenzele’s special AGM postponed until further notice

An arrangement has been announced for shareholders and retailers to receive a 77.5% cash payout

20th Edition of the National Teaching Awards

Teachers are seldom recognised but they are indispensable to the country's education system

Awards affirm the vital work that teachers do

Government is committed to empowering South Africa’s teachers with skills, knowledge and techniques for a changing world

SAB Zenzele special AGM rescheduled to March 25 2020

New voting arrangements are being made to safeguard the health of shareholders

Dimension Data launches Saturday School in PE

The Gauteng Saturday School has produced a number of success stories