Pooling our Secrets

05.02.15 – 28.02.15
Stellenbosch

The title of this group show, Pooling Our Secrets, is drawn from the book How the Universe got its Spots (2002) by astro-physicist Janna Levin. Originally a bundle of letters to her mother, the manuscript serves as a rationale for her belief that the universe is finite. More than that, the book represents the exchange of explicit and subjective knowledge between people, like carefully transferring water from one cupped palm to another.

Artists are famously loath to offer detailed explanations for their work or to demystify their practice to the point that it might lose its transcendental quality. As Francis Bacon famously stated, “the job of the artist is always to deepen the mystery”. The renowned Goldsmith’s professor, Michael Craig-Martin was influential in garnering a new generation of British artists in the nineties through an approach that encouraged process-driven singularity and authenticity, whilst identifying a communal thread amongst diverse artists. Craig-Martin believes that art is a unique language understood only by artists and that artists from different backgrounds, cultures and societies have a connection with each other despite the ostensible and obvious differences in their work.

In this vein, Pooling Our Secrets combines or ‘pools’ eleven emerging artists from Southern Africa, who work in a variety of media and styles. The exhibition reveals how a young generation of dissimilar artists from different backgrounds is employing distinct modes of expression, whilst tapping into and contributing to a collective spirit that is simultaneously fresh, global and African.

Contemporary art in the 21st Century is characterized by innumerable practices and approaches adopted by interconnected artists, navigating an increasingly globalized art world. This exhibition features: photography (Russell Bruns), performance and video (Jana Babez Terblanche), sculpture and installation (Ruann Colemann and Palesa Mopeli), mixed media painting (Simphiwe Ndzube), new abstraction (Alexandra Karakashian), contemporary printmaking (Mongezi Ncaphayi) and painting (Chemu Ng’ok and Gresham Nyaude) as well as new conceptual practices (Herman de Klerk and Mitchell Messina). Thematically, the exhibition touches on many of the current curatorial threads and contemporary subjects including; globalization, identity and the body politic, celebrity and youth culture, environmental concerns, spiritualism and social issues.

Despite the wide spectrum of trends covered by this exhibition, it offers the viewer a snapshot of the present and the opportunity to compare a select group of innovative young artists.