Monthly Archives: October 2015

dot 46: absence

The absence of a muse can be even more inspirational than its presence.

– Alagraphy –

I have been very aware of what absence is lately as the recent loss of my whippet has raised my awareness to the lived experience thereof. It has also stirred memories as to the unique space it inhabits in space and time; how it has separated trajectories of memory both near and far, how weighted and dense living has been for a while, and yet how the winds of passing time has carried me forward to where I am birthing my memories through my art making.

A truly phenomenal South African artist who has worked with the concept of absence in a remarkable way is Lyndi Sales. I first came across her work in her 2006 show at Bell Roberts Gallery entitled 1 in 11 000 000 Chance. This body of work explored her deep sense of loss and absence of her own father that died during the infamous Helderberg plane crash.  According to Sales it was working through her loss that streamlined her work towards what it is today, but for many years there appeared to be a tangible link between what ‘was cut away as symbolic of negative space and hence absence which was clearly my expression of loss at the time.’

In a published interview in the The Lake Rachel Kelly explores Sales thoughts around her October show No Place at whatiftheworld. Here, Sales expresses how she sees things differently now by equating absence – or nothingness – to dark energy and our inability to perceive it:

Right now negative space no longer equates absence. It seems that the more we discover through science the more we realize that “nothingness” or negative space does not exist. Nothingness is merely that which we can’t quite comprehend and so we can’t see it’

Keeping this in mind whilst being immersed in the very recent exhibition ELEGY which showed at Goodman Gallery (Cape Town), it is difficult to imagine that any words of insight could soothe the loss of  19-year-old Ipeleng Christine Moholane.

Ipeleng was found raped and murdered on 25th of May 2015, and ELEGY is enacted in commemoration of Ipeleng by the artist Gabrielle Goliath. The gallery space – set up as an installation – mainly includes a looped video of a performance as well as the small stand on which the performances take place. The awareness of absence is heightened by the darkened and bare environment.

However, as soon as the performance video plays the ‘sung cries’ of the three female singers, an incredible presence of who Ipeleng (and many other victims of violence) may have been is felt.  Elegy is certainly no negative space, but rather one where absence is replaced by presence not seen.

Still from installation video Photo: Sonya Rademeyer
Still from installation video                                                                     Photo: Sonya Rademeyer


Elegy Installation view Photo: Sonya Rademeyer
Elegy Installation view                                                                             Photo: Sonya Rademeyer

It is commendable that Goliath has offered the due respect and memory of the absence and presence of Ipeleng to her grieving parents. It has been a long time since I have experienced an artist such as Goliath who appears not to be driven by ego. Elegy was not about showcasing her own talent, but allowing for the absence of a loved one to be honoured and felt. Truly inspirational.

Thank you Goodman Gallery.


dot 45: colour

Colour provokes a psychic vibration. Colour hides a power still unknown but real, which acts on every part of the human body.

 – Wassily Kandinsky –

A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to re-visit Bulawayo (Zimbabwe) where I was born and raised. An even greater opportunity was being able to care for an old friend who was in hospital at the time. Sitting outside the Mater Dei Hospital one hot afternoon my eye fell on something shiny reflecting in the sharp sunlight. My curiosity led me to explore a bit further and I discovered that a few rocks had been covered with silver paint. It was unclear to me whether this had been done intentionally or whether it had happened by accident in some way. There was no obvious reason I could see as to why they had purposefully been painted.

Perhaps the obscurity of the illusive reason to this mystery is what kept me awake that same night. Since seeing these silver-clad stones I have been experiencing a recurrence of the memory of this image. I have also started becoming deeply drawn to the colour silver.

Siver stones photo: Sonya Rademeyer
Silver stones

This is a completely new experience for me as most of my artistic life I have purposefully avoided colour. I am starting to think about colour; even consider colour. In Concerning the Spiritual in Art  Wassily Kadinsky says that: ‘Color is a power which directly influences the soul.’ For Kadinsky there is a strong correlation between art, music and spirituality.

A South African artist whose work has fascinated me for some time is that of Jan-Henri Booysen. Booysen’s work often incorporates music or musical metaphors. His current exhibition WHITEOUT at blank projects shows work that leans towards Glitch art which, according to the exhibition printout is ‘a result of his fascination with pixel drifting, data mulching and other forms of automated abstraction.’

On a personal level I have found his work around automated abstraction particularly intriguing and there is an overlap here with my own work. Perhaps then for this reason that in WHITEOUT I was most strongly drawn to a smaller (91 x 76 cm) painting entitled  Blind verlug ( 2014) exhibited opposite the office area at blank projects.

Jan-Henri Booysen Blind verlug (2014) Photo: Sonya Rademeyer
Jan-Henri Booysen:  Blind verlug (2014)                                 Oil and spraypaint on canvas
Photo: Sonya Rademeyer


Blind verlug (2014) captures Booysen’s automative gestures on a silver surface. Perhaps, as Kadinsky suggests, silver’s power is still hidden and unbeknown to me. It most certainly affects me corporeally, emotionally and spiritually.