For the first time in South Africa an exhibition dedicated to exploring a 'romantic' turn in contemporary art will be staged at Barnard Gallery in Cape Town from from 30 January - 6 March 2018.
The exhibition is curated by well known art commentator Mary Corrigall, who has been closely observing this movement, which has largely been confined to a generation of young Cape Town based-painters, all contemporaries. Their works will be presented along with established mid-career artists from Joburg that have been preoccupied with the area where nature, science and the sublime converge under the banner of romanticism. In harnessing and coming to grips with the aesthetic and ideological drivers behind this painterly mode, Corrigall has chosen to dub it 'new romanticism' as it shares characteristics with a titular movement in the late 18th century.
The artists selected for this exhibition have plunged head-long into the natural world, concentrating on its grandeur, beauty with an inflection of awe via the 'mystical' manner in which they render it.
A contemporary exploration of the sublime, an unknowable entity evading description, underpins the curatorial thread uniting this exhibition. It is given full expression in Alexia Vogel and Heidi Fourie's expressive treatment of natural settings which hover at the threshold of figuration and abstraction. Nature provides these artists an apolitical space in which to intuitively follow their painterly impulses.
For Sarah Biggs this leads towards an evasive psychic territory, which she represents via figures overshadowed, consumed by abstract organic forms enveloping them.
Left: Katherine Spindler, Sheep I, 2017 | Right: Robyn Penn, After the failure of Ideals I, 2018
Ronél de Jager delves into the human body and the depths of the ocean in search of beauty and an understanding of universal conditions written into natural forms.
Katherine Spindler's application of the painterly medium evokes further readings into aspects of nostalgia and memory, equally relevant to notions of Romanticism.
Rosie Mudge's so-called glitter paintings evoke a giddy ascent into the sublime via an ‘80s retro vibe, recalling the era of 'new romantic' pop. As such nostalgia and gendered aesthetics from that time are collapsed into 19th century ideals from a contemporary point of view.
Extending his interest in cosmology, observatories and mapping the inescapable, Marcus Neustetter charts the 'spaces between the stars' via naive painted lines on found 1950's celestial maps. Robyn Penn too has her gaze fixed on the sky in her seemingly traditional rendering of a cloud, which embodies an untamable and unknowable aspect of mother nature.
The exhibition opens at the Barnard Gallery, 55 Main street, Newlands, Cape Town from 30 January - 6 March 2018.
For more information, visit the Barnard Gallery website.