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Wall(paper) (Land)scapes 2010

Wallpaper Landscapes, is the title of a body of work consisting of 32 pieces dealing with memory, heritage, history and geography.

Memory is part of our most precious inner being. From the very first minutes of our existence, memories are formed and buried deep within our subconscious minds. They stand as landmarks for, and indicators of, our own existence and guide us in chosen directions.

These memories form snapshots of every minute of our lives. They include places where we have lived, places we have visited and even those to where we have escaped, people we have met, people closest to us, animate and inanimate things that have influenced our thoughts, beliefs and very being.

These memories are complex and tend to romanticise reality, at times almost an escape mechanism. They tend to enforce who we are and at the same time reinforce diversity.

We plot our paths aligned with the dictates of our memories and savour them as a manifestation of our own personal history. This history becomes part of our heritage which in turn is deeply rooted in geography. This is evident in the South African ideology of patriotism, birthright and land ownership.

These snapshots of memory were until very recently confined to the heart, mind and soul of the individual, almost forming wallpaper in the heart mind and soul of that specific individual. This wallpaper excluded the objective, extraneous world.

This has now changed. New highly advanced and yet simple and easily accessible technology has enabled us to take these memories and almost instantly transform them into snapshots of reality, a “hard copy”, which all can see, observe and experience. The outside world can now experience what was previously hidden, intimate and dramatically personal. What was a wallpaper of the heart, mind and soul of the individual has now become a landscape reflecting a reality which is shared with that reality.

The artworks in this series are snapshots, capturing brief moments in time and history. They reflect places of longing, solitude and interaction.

Along with the new technology, the pace of life has accelerated beyond recognition. South Africans seem to be locked into a race against time and, in turn, a race against themselves. It has become increasingly important to lay focus on identity and culture as we are urged to celebrate “unity through diversity”. However, diversity by its very nature defines differences but that does not automatically and inherently imply conflict or confrontation. Those two realities of our modern world are the consequences of rampant greed and ego.

Despite the requirement to express this unity through diversity, there is evidence that there is still a deep-seated need to hold onto and celebrate individuality and identity. The ever popular scrap booking culture and the need to create personal space and decorate the interiors we inhabit, graphically demonstrates this.

Scrap-booking, wallpapering and interior decoration with their repetitive, pattern- making nature are used to decorate space. Memories, too, are repetitive, playing out in our hearts, minds and souls time and time again.

We hold on by taking and displaying photographs and other memorabilia. We decorate interior spaces, becoming obsessed with having visual images close at hand in a desperate attempt not to forget.

Memories are then simplified, compartmentalised, romanticised and fantasised to a point that these memories of spaces become surreal and almost impersonal. As such, they enable us to cope with this hoarding process in a comfortable manner despite the fact that what was the wallpaper of the heart, mind and soul has now transformed into landscapes of reality.

We simplify in order to remember clearly. Memories, repetitive in nature, become a pastiche of wallpaper in our minds, in turn, echoing persona and identity.

My paintings are not just Landscapes. They transcend into open-ended memory and history and are open-ended in nature. Here they may even be referred to as wallscapes, interior decorative pieces which stand as testimony to the fragments of identity and history.

Brushstrokes become repetitive, at times simplified or compartmentalised in the same manner as wallpaper. There is no denying the fact that they are decorative in nature, evoking tranquillity and escapism.

Although painted from specific areas in the landscape throughout the country, no specific titles are given. The work is simply titled “your space”. The observer is invited to make the space their own. There is a paradigm shift occurring from “my place in this world” to “my world in this place”

A red line darts across the picture planes in places, at times solid, at times broken. This emphasises the ideology of bloodlines, heritage, and identity with strong historic undertones.

“Personalize this space” – if you so choose.

Peter Binsbergen
11 September 2010

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