Michael Stevenson is pleased to present a solo exhibition by Wim Botha. On show are a monumental print work, and an installation of mixed-media sculptural pieces.
Named for its place of origin, Joburg Altarpiece is the culmination of a series of large lino prints, some of which have been exhibited individually in the past two years. In the Altarpiece eight panels are combined to complete the project. The component images, sourced from historical paintings and sculptures, are skeletonised and stripped of their original meaning. The resulting danse macabre suggests its own mythology, with fluid identities and indeterminate intent.
In the lower central panel of the Altarpiece, Botha has introduced the forms of the Platonic or regular solids which have entranced - and frustrated - man through the ages. These forms reappear in the installation Amazing Things from Other Places, in which a number of sculptural pieces are suspended in a coherent but fragmented and multi-faceted arrangement. The Platonic solids are unique in that the faces, edges and angles of each form are congruent; the name of each figure is derived from its number of faces, respectively 4, 6, 8, 12 and 20. Plato associated them with the four classical elements, to which Aristotle added a fifth. Leonardo Da Vinci illustrated the solids for Luca Pacioli's book The Divine Proportion, while the German astronomer Johannes Kepler used them to propose a model for the movements of the known planets in the solar system.
This perpetual deliberation over these aesthetically seductive forms in the assumption that they must offer templates for elements of the universe is the premise of the five sculptures at the core of Botha's installation. Whereas previously his imagery often related to the Greek and Christian gods, in this series he abstracts the wrestling between man and gods into a constellation of figurative and pure geometric forms. Entering the dynamic between these elements and a sequence of portrait-studies carved in paper, viewers are inevitably drawn to position themselves as yet another component in this disconcerting spatial universe.
This is Botha's fourth solo exhibition at Michael Stevenson, following Apocalagnosia (2007), Cold Fusion: gods, heroes and martyrs (2005) and Speculum (2003). In 2008 he had solo shows at Brodie/Stevenson in Johannesburg and Galerie Jette Rudolph in Berlin. Recent group exhibitions include Self/Not-self at Brodie/Stevenson, Johannesburg (2009); Disguise: The art of attracting and deflecting attention at Michael Stevenson (2008); Political Iconography at Jette Rudolph (2007); Olvida quien soy - Erase me from who I am at the Centro Atlantico de Arte Moderno, Las Palmas (2006); the seventh Dakar Biennale (2006); and the travelling exhibition Africa Remix (2004-2007). Botha was the Standard Bank Young Artist for Visual Art in 2005.
The exhibition opens on Thursday 6 August, 6-8pm. The gallery is open for the duration of this exhibition from Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm; Saturday 10am to 1pm and Sunday 2pm to 5pm.
© 2009 Michael Stevenson. All rights reserved.