13.10.11 – 30.11.11
The title of Jake Aikman’s third solo exhibition; Proximity is as ambiguous and mysterious as his atmospheric, meditative paintings. On one level, the artist deals with people’s proximity and connection to nature, whilst also emphasizing the insignificance and vulnerability of the individual in relation to the overwhelming power and magnitude of our natural environment; forest, desert or ocean. Aikman’s paintings resonate with vulnerability, emptiness, vast open spaces –those standing in close proximity to Aikman’s paintings are forced to reconsider and contemplate (contemplate and reconsider) the ultimate solitude of their existence. Aikman is intensely conscious of modern-day environmental concerns, and a sense of impending danger pervades throughout his work. Aikman creates a tension around the moment he chooses to capture, the instant, the imminent, and the tangible Proximity to that which lies beneath, beyond and hidden from view. Despite their monumentality and omniscience, the works are intimately enticing and poetic. Aikman’s large scale paintings work with the metaphor for the relativity of perception and distance – the closer one gets to the object (or the truth), the more inaccessible or distant it becomes.
Proximity is Aikman’s third solo exhibition and a marked stylistic evolution is visible in his new body of work. Aikman moves subtly from his crisp trademark “sea paintings” to softer, hued and hazy compositions which serve to heighten intrigue and fascination with the already magnetic and spellbinding content. Aikman’s paintings traverse genre – moving beyond “pure” painting (despite his remarkable technical ability) – to become video-stills, photographs, allegories. The artist’s pictorial intelligence is the result of painstaking selectivity. Aikman carefully sifts through a variety of source material – old movies, newspaper cuttings, the internet and photographs taken by himself in remote locations. The images are translated and embalmed with the artist’s personal vision and unmistakable touch.
Aikman’s patient, sensitive and thorough process situates him among the most interesting and sought-after contemporary artists in South Africa today. He has emerged as an entirely unique contemporary painter with a distinctive style, reinforcing the notion that new painting always emerges from unexpected sources and cannot be pre-empted, predicted or simulated. Aikman’s work is timeless, whilst undeniably new.