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FNB Art Joburg | 2022 | Solo Booth


Fair Portfolio


Sandton Convention Centre

01.09.22 - 04.09.22

SMAC Gallery is pleased to present Callan Grecia's solo exhibition, Supermassiveblackhole, a body of work created especially for FNB Art Joburg. On view at Booth No 2 in the Gallery Hub at the Sandton Convention Centre between the 1st and 4th of September 2022.

Astronomers use made-up constellations — any number of stars formed into a configuration of conspicuous objects in the sky — as useful tools to locate and name stars. If an exhibition is a constellation of artworks travelling together through time in space, then by definition, all exhibitions are fiction. In such a world, Callan Grecia’s exhibition, “Supermassiveblackhole” becomes a meta fiction — emphasizing its own constructedness through fragmentation, disjuncture and reordering. In such a world, the configuration of a brick, a mask and a mirror are emblems that locate an interior world.

In “Supermassiveblackhole”, Grecia brings together a suite of paintings that further his distinctive visual vocabulary. Following in the tradition of musicians and filmmakers who evoke the cosmos for inspiration, Grecia considers the extraterrestrial as a point from which to imagine and construct new dialogues.

Because of their complexity and enigma, black holes have the power to animate moments of complete exuberance and imagination. As such, they are useful portals for our questions, anxieties and hopes. Just as astronomers configure objects to make meaning, so too does Grecia. He takes the language of fashion brands and household objects that framed part of his experiences growing up and merges them with images of the celestial. The moon and stars are embedded with all the contingencies of the excruciatingly banal. Through this process, objects are reordered from signifying material conditions (read middle-class aspirations) and become potential sites of identification that recall intimate and formative memories. An article of clothing, for instance, can immediately transport one to a personal or collective historical moment…a form of time travel.

“Supermassiveblackhole” hovers in the liminal space between play and irony, often drawing on humour and exaggeration — as demonstrated by the elaborate gestures depicted in When I Get Communication (2022) and When I Try Communicate (2022). Despite its satirical style, the work is nevertheless sincere; especially if we are to think of sincerity in the manner articulated by poet Ben Lerner, as a means of finding a way to inhabit the present outside of stylised despair. Perhaps this sense is even more obvious in how Grecia chooses to title his works; Voyager, The Origin of The World, Wish Fulfillment — each of these points to a certain kind of disposition that is interested in affect and narrative. However, to assume that the narrative is the goal is to oversimplify, as Grecia revels in juxtapositions and the ambivalent. A series of attractions and repulsions are constantly at play to produce meaning. The works Tragedy and Comedy, for instance, read as two sides of the same coin. The mirrored effect is disrupted by small clues — a ring on a finger vs the absence of a ring or a smile that turns into a frown — that push and pull toward an unavoidable duality that encompasses much of life. This metaphor is further extended through the recurring motif of the mask, alluding to the disconnect between internality and perceptions of a social self.

Grecia’s deconstructivist approach emphasizes flat and two-dimensional surfaces as a reflection of contemporary ways of experiencing the ocular, which largely takes place on screens. Instead of shadows and depth, he uses layered imagery that accentuates form and arrangement. An imperfect circle next to another imperfect circle are compelling enough to land the work's meaning.

Grecia’s surrealist sensibilities merge with experimentation to produce vestiges of disorientated realities. The present is instantly displaced into a retrofuturist imagined place where objects that orbit this world - sweaters and sneakers - bump up against ever-expanding vortexes created through colour, shapes and symbols.

Text by Nkgopoleng Moloi

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