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Bloom 2018 | Association of Arts Pretoria

Opening Speech by Iaan Bekker

Everything has a beginning, middle and end, but not necessarily in that order.

Gesture being the primary mode of composition leads to a disruption of space. This has consequences in time - it slows down perception of the work, and in doing so focus attention on mark-making and the materiality of paint itself.

Following from this synchronising of making and seeing comes the association between time and light. The work aims to divert, concentrate and diffuse light in the same sense that it manipulates time in looking at, and seeing the relations of elements in the work.

The constant stepping towards the surface to operate upon it, and the stepping back to orientate the effects of operative action constitutes a rhythm, a ritual. In this manner the dramatic performance of painting and the critique of appraising effects becomes consolidated. Significance is defined in retrospect.

The subject of the work is a process of sensual and feeling modalities. Reason and calculus is reserved for formal application. The painting subject is never complex. The results are never simple. This is the consequence of compounded interest and attention vested in making the work over time. Gesture, which is immediate, is subjected to a maturity of aesthetic, which is timeless.

No matter what subject or formal route painting pursues it remains a slow medium. Even if its referents are subsequent image processing media as in photography or film or video, which accelerates and focuses the sign as efficiencies of meaning and escapes into a textual syntax, paint remains rooted in telluric concerns and anchors perception in the present. Paint is sensual before it can be temporal. this is why it endures longer as a site of memory or emotional inscription.

Even if painting can achieve immediate registration of its image/intent/meaning programme it remains a linear process of sub-assembly of transmissive gestures. There is a sequence of decisions pending calibration - we cannot know where the work begins or ends, but we know how it moves. It is a staged evolution and adaptation of selected elements under pressure to transform until it achieves equilibrium. One can speak of arrested development without a trace of cynicism.

Andre Naude paintings allows the viewer to see this operation unfold. It is consistent with the intimacy of selecting subject matter which is often interiorised or selected from domestic environments. He shares rather that pontificate or instruct. Yet the work requires perceptual education to fully appreciate how this is achieved. Yet this is not a requirement to simply enjoy what one sees. The sensation is one of stress-free chromatic hedonism.

One does not think about painting when one paints. At best the making process allows one to drift among impulses and options. Decisions may be deferred or revised in a way-finding exercise that allows associations to at first multiply and then be subtracted until a certain mood is established in which one can be reconciled with oneself - this may be fearsome or joyous. A dialectic resolves between identity and diversity. What is the sound of one hand painting etc?

The courage to enter knowingly into psychic regions of uncertainty and chaos is something that artists willingly take on. For this they need to be respected and encouraged by those who safely stand at a distance and describe the studio as a psychosis. Painting is a willful induction of change, and in that sense it prefigures the scale and intensity of events in the world at large. In doing so the artist explores and anticipates new modes of receptivity.

There is a syncopation of fragments in the work that gradually coheres without resisting the eventual syntax of descriptive language. There is the deferment of closure that expands the gestures of gestalt. There is invention of imaginative relations between image making sets of symbols and their settings. Here is a practice of lyricism on an epic scale, even within the space of a hand's breath.

- Iaan Bekker (Brand Wealth)

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