VALERIO BERRUTI
UDAKA

06 December 2012 – 19 January 2013

SMAC Art Gallery is proud to present Italian artist Valerio Berruti’s first solo exhibition in South Africa. The exhibition entitled UDAKA; the Zulu word for mud, is the culmination of a year-long South African project by the artist. Berruti completed a residency at the Nirox Foundation in Gauteng in 2011.

During this residency he conceptualised a body of work based on a young African girl – who he met at a school in the area as part of his research. Berruti’s work is largely constructed around imagery inspired by children. The child is both a metaphor and focal point around which the artist builds a complex structure. In this context the child symbolises the South African people. The red soil which permeates the entire project represents both the conflict and turmoil of a deeply troubled land. From this point of departure, Berruti expands the narrative and conveys a universal message.

The journey commenced with a monumental work of Land art entitled; Over the Rainbow. This work, constructed over many months on a hilltop within the expansive grounds of the Foundation, comprises more than a 100 tons of lime-washed stone, outlining the face of the African child. UDAKA is a continuation of the theme which takes the form of an animation consisting of more than 300 drawings and accompanied by the music of Simon Attwell and Zolani Mahola (of Freshly Ground). The animation was presented for the first time at nightfall over water on a lake at the Nirox Foundation and will be presented in a different guise as an installation at SMAC in Stellenbosch. The exhibition at SMAC will also feature the drawings upon which the animation was based, together with sculpture, installation, video and Berruti’s signature distressed works on un-primed Jute, using a classical adapted fresco technique. Many of the works incorporate sand and mud as the title of the exhibition suggests.

Valerio Berruti was born in Alba, Piemonte, Northern Italy in 1977. He graduated in art criticism at D.A.M.S. Torino. He lives and works in Verduno, in a 17th century deconsecrated Church, bought and restored by the artist in 1995. He was the youngest selected artist at the 53rd Venice Biennale in 2009 and recently won the prestigious prize “Luci di Artista 2012″.