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The Objects on Karin Preller's Mantelpiece

by Marilyn de Freitas posted on June 13, 2013.

Karin Preller, Still life with porcelain cat, 2013
85 x 95 cm

Just Above the Mantelpiece sees Karin Preller's return to still life in her characteristic 'photographic' way of seeing. She hosts her second solo exhibition at Artspace Johannesburg from 5 June to 3 July 2013. Preller's use of photographic painterly distortion defamiliarise the objects offering viewer's a new world view. The works offer an observation from the perspective of the objects depicted - where they have been, where they come from and the personal value added to them.

A Johannesburg based artist, Karin Preller had a relatively brief career in law. She completed a BA(FA) degree at Unisa in 1995 and a MA(FA) at the University of the Witwatersrand in 2001. She has worked as a lecturer in Art History at Unisa in the Department of Art History and Visual Arts, and as lecturer in Critical Studies and practical teaching at the Greenside Design Center College of Design. She is currently a full-time artist and an Affiliated Researcher in the Research Centre, Visual Identities in Art and Design, at the University of Johannesburg. Still life, as well as photographs as source material, is an ongoing interest and has been the focus of a number of her works.

Karin Preller,Tintin and the parallel divider, 2013
85 x 110 cm

Preller's still lives seem to reference 16th Century curiosity cabinets filled with treasured objects. These displays offered a form of entertainment and reflected the artist or collector's world view at a specific time in history. These 16th Century curiosity cabinets were refined by professionalized curators in the 1700s into what we know today as modern museums.

Her works give the objects depicted a discourse for the viewers curiously to wonder where the objects come from and why are they important to their owners. Tintin and the parallel divider depicts Tintin figures surrounded by artist apparel offer a view inside the artist's own repositories of memory and obsession. The works contain dialogues beyond the objects presented that offer a reflection of the surroundings, time and society that look upon them.

Karin Preller, Still life with green doll, 2013
70 x 60 cm

Preller's distinctive use of photography explores particular visual ambiguities and ambivalences that occur both in the process of the medium and in its translation into paint. The relation between the objects she depicts and the medium aim to explore the discrepancies that arise in the interplay of different surface qualities.

Preller's still lives offer the viewer a reminder of memento mori - 'a reminder of the fragility and transience of existence' - in which once we die, the objects we leave behind will offer a description to others of who we once were. The things we collect and place around us offer us a sense of comfort and enjoyment but is also an expression of our beliefs and ideas in the social milieu that we live.


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