Bevan De Wet Distant Relatives 2020 | Art.co.za | Art in South Africa
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Distant Relatives 2020

"This is not a man, its a tree,
And I'm a bird, and I'm gone."

In a time when we seem so globally interconnected, we are showing ourselves to be less inclusive and tolerant than ever. The global population is at its peak, and our consumption and demand are at an all time high. Feeding this need for consumption, our planet is facing catastrophic environmental and ecological strain. We have distanced ourselves from our ancestral values and become estranged from our natural environments. Distant Relatives explores man’s growing sense of alienation from nature, rendering it a near forgotten and abstracted space, particularly in overdeveloped and densely populated urban environments.

De Wet's etchings, relief prints, drawings and handmade paper works range from figurative forms of foliage and flora to microscopic planes, textures and geographical spaces.

The artist’s garden becomes a site of inspiration for his imagery, often photographed and put through digital filters before referencing. The digital manipulation of these images generates new abstracted landscapes that are unfamiliar and somewhat dystopian. The process examines the tensions between the natural, organic forms of nature and the structures we impose on them. Images are dissected and collapsed into singular but complex platforms.

This body of work explores what de Wet refers to as "...a new way of mapping our immediate spaces. By using fragments of plants and natural elements, I am challenging traditional depictions of landscape [art] in South Africa."

Since mapping has a history of colonialism, and of plotting "unchartered" space, this practice of construction and deconstruction attempts to reverse and re-imagine, in a sense unoccupying space. Working with a combination of structure and chance, it allows for a vulnerable space that evokes a sense of uncertainty and otherworldliness. "By embracing chance, I aim to highlight the ephemeral cycle of creation and disintegration. This practice becomes an allegory for the breakdown of our ancestral values, and the fragmented nature of our engagement with space and our connection to the world."

The plant and nature elements in de Wet's work are symbolic of what we are overlooking and neglecting. Distancing ourselves from nature, our perceptions of it are distorted and idyllicised through digital interfaces. With environmental concerns around drought and deforestation, uncontrollable fires and the perpetual expansion of cities, de Wet is fascinated by the scars that are left on the landscape as a record of its history and trauma.


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