JOHANN LOUW & SANELL AGGENBACH
Portraits

2 February – 29 March 2008

Johann Louw and Sanell Aggenbach are making significant contributions to South African contemporary art. They are both   graduates from Stellenbosch University’s art school, an art department which has a reputation for producing artists with diverse and idiosyncratic approaches to art making. This exhibition affords us the unique opportunity to compare notes on just such a schism in art production.

On the surface there is a wonderful playfulness in the choice of juxtaposing the two seemingly incongruous bodies of work on show. Here we view two widely differing approaches to a familiar genre and medium – portrait painting.

Johann Louw’s work, as could be clearly seen in his recent mid-career retrospective, places a definitive emphasis on the painterly surface. The artist eschews any purely cerebral interpretation of his work – the viewer is forced to engage with the visceral and tactile brushwork of his paintings.

Sanell Aggenbach’s work needs to be viewed within the context of her earlier forays into the conceptual arena. Although her grounding in Stellenbosch was originally firmly a painterly one, her willingness to move effortlessly between disciplines indicates an artist at ease with her method. Aggenbach’s conceptual playfulness is evident in her choice of positioning her paintings within a conceptual framework. The traditional painting is used as a ‘prop’ within an installation environment.

Both series of portraits use a limited monochromatic palette, Aggenbach’s are clinical in their mechanistic mimetic moment, Louw’s are dark and aggressive in their abrupt brutal physicality.