Barend de Wet

Maximalism

30.10.12 – 27.09.12

Cape Town

SMAC Art Gallery is proud to present Maximalism by Barend de Wet. This is De Wet’s second major solo exhibition with the Gallery after Green in 2010.

A homage to exuberance and excess, Maximalism showcases De Wet’s recently completed body of work with his maxim “art is life and life is art (art=life=art)” (Smith 2010:13) forming a metaphorical thread throughout.

Taking root in fun, naïve mischief and sensuality, De Wet’s methodology is intuitive yet exercised with technical integrity.  De Wet’s is a maximalist art ethic of excess but not waste.  Everything is used; every colour, every sense, every surface.

His trestle table top festooned with enamel paint spilt from a previous project becomes the starting point for a next work.  Older finished artworks are reworked with new multi-coloured knittings stretched onto them.  Integrating all he sees, feels and lives, De Wet has worked on a number of projects simultaneously.  As he explains: “I am giving everything all the time”.  Barend de Wet is an artist impossible to pin down.  Conceptual formalist joins a tangle of other titles including tattooed beekeeper, performing yo-yo-er, model, knitter and innate exhibitionist.

A proclaimed “polyglot” (Smith 2010:18), Barend’s visual language is equally diverse, comprising welded steel, wire, bright acrylic wool, enamel paint, raw cotton, magnets and light bulbs.

In his knitted works, De Wet demonstrates a masculine command of this pastime concomitant with women.  Here, play triumphs in his preoccupation with reworking the surface (Smith 2010). Objects made to look like art is in cahoots with the contemporary notion that art is nowhere and everywhere at once.

De Wet installs these metal sculptures in the gallery space thereby undoing their proposed non-entity, the nothing becomes the thing.  2D line moves into overlapping welded 3D outlines in abstract metal drawings, where images are inspired by 1950’s ‘sailor’ tattoos.  This metal line extends into woollen scribbles in his ‘beyond the colour line’ series where he proclaims the excessive and indulges in colour.

Maximalism celebrates extremes and in-betweens – the feminine and the masculine, the soft and hard, flaccid and taught, sanity and madness, intuition and intent.  Always playful, always fun, De Wet successfully sutures the life-art divide in Maximalism – an ode to everything.

Barend de Wet’s monograph, authored by Kathryn Smith was published by SMAC Art Gallery to coincide with his solo exhibition, Green in 2010. Copies are available at the gallery for purchase.