Currently showing at Salon 91, the group exhibition This is the Place features artists Paul Senyol, Jade Klara, Dani Loureiro, Wesley van Eeden, Andrew Sutherland and Andrzej Urbanski. The collection includes a miscellaneous assortment of once-off collaborations and individual works centered around themes of presence and place. Each piece harbours a strong reaction towards contemporary physical and social landscapes which is externalized through painterly portraits, abstract geometric works, irregular shaped canvases and bold typography. We chatted to a few of the artists about how different environments influence their creativity and the process of working together.
What inspired this group exhibition?
Wesley van Eeden: I think the idea of collaborative work between the artists was the spark and inspiration for this exhibition. This show offers something that is quite unique in the sense that a lot of the works are collaborative between all the artists, who have distinctive style. I am really impressed with all the artists work in the show.
Paul Senyol: A couple of us had been thinking about doing a show together at some point and had a desire to work with one another on some collaborative works. We finally pinned a date and got a few more artists on board.
Andrzej Urbanski: My inspiration was the prospect of participating in an exhibition with artists that I really wanted to show with since I moved to South Africa. All of the artists in the exhibition are South African and each of them has a unique style. For me as a European, it is always exciting to be influenced through chats about the other’s processes and their individual inspirations. The aspect of sharing ideas and developing artworks between us is the key for progress and the constructive criticism that happened during that sharing is very important for me. I got the chance to do two collaborations for ‘This is the Place’ with Paul Senyol and Dani Loureiro and I am looking forward to more great exchanges like that.
‘This is the Place‘ explores ideas around presence and place. In what way does your work embody and engage with these themes?
Wesley: My work is heavily inspired by the environment around me. Politically, socially and environmentally I like to draw reference to the present. I have approached these works as snapshots of what I see around me and what I think about currently. ‘Pattern Politique’ is an obvious example of being inspired by African pattern motifs that are extruded and abstracted. This is not only to be aesthetically pleasing but also representing a country with a complex past both in construction and reformation.
Paul: Most of the works I have presented for the show have been collaborative efforts (10 in total), so each piece varies according to the person I collaborated with. My approach was very much informed by my study of natural and built spaces, as well as adventures into new and unknown environments.
Andrzej: Presence and place are one of the the deep sources in my work, especially in context of environmental and architectural use of the human being. As an abstract artist, I use places that I travel and live in as a source for my artwork as well as media. Media or the medial usage is a daily source of influence on humans. I work with environment, architecture and media in my artworks because in South Africa, my new home country, the use of those is different compared to where I am originally from. I am experiencing those things as a foreigner and the best way for me to get a better understanding of the place I live in is to translate those experiences into a physical artwork. It is an outlet for me. Besides that, I was traveling through Europe in August and visited my two home countries, Poland and Germany and I had time to think what spaces and places mean to me. Lots of the places had changed and I wanted to create a body of work for that show, which symbolized both tranquillity (my new home Cape Town which I see as a metaphorical harbour after having found the best place to live in) and on the other side the European turbulence (symbolizing the speed and vibrancy of my home countries).
Which environments have been most influential in creating the work featured and why?
Wesley: I am inspired by the raw aesthetic of what I see around me like hand painted signage for African hair salons, Zulu patterns and textures on old buildings…for me these all tell an honest story of the place that I live in.
Paul: I would say mostly natural environments, being inspired by travellers and explorers such as Roald Amundsen, Jaques Cousteau, Edmund Hillary, as well as locally, people who are migrants and refugees within our South African borders.
Andrzej: The colour schemes in Cape Town and on my trips around Europe have been a big influence. For this exhibition I took ideas from the changed environments and architecture of Berlin, but also the opposites of South African environments and architecture were influential. I am showing very vibrant and dynamic artworks on the one hand, and very settled and calming works on the other.
This collection features artists working in different contexts. How do your works resonate with each other?
Wesley: Paul and I have done numerous exhibitions together and I think we share some of the same influences even though our style is quite different.
Paul: With each work and collaboration, we approached the works with our individual aesthetics and styles and sought to overlap them as far as possible. What stands out most to me is the ability of strong bold and clean lines to compliment more abstract elements within certain works i.e. flat colour vs. texture and detail vs. broader strokes, etc.
Andrzej: I did a collab with Dani Loureiro which was a very special work for me as Dani prepared a typography artwork ‘Lost in the Deep Blue Sea’ which by the way, is one of my favorite artworks. It was special because I wanted to create a specific colour scheme that works with the meaning of Dani’s artwork but is also different from the expectation of the colour blue that you get by reading it. It was very challenging but at the same time I love challenges I tried to give the piece my unique interpretation. We are both positively surprised how it turned out and are making plans to do two more for the end of the year.
You’ve also created once-off collaborations specifically for this exhibition. What was the process like?
Wesley: My work is usually quite planned and often is metaphorical. I have always enjoyed working with Paul Senyol as his execution is a lot quicker than when I paint. I think this contrast makes our collaboration for this show quite exciting and unexpected!
Paul: With each artist the process was different. In my works with Andrew Sutherland we approached our sketches and conceptual starting points through a series of collages, which eventually translated themselves into artworks. On the other hand, my works with Wesley were mostly conducted via email, Skype and WhatsApp because we are living in different cities.
Andrzej: As I mentioned above, getting to work with people allows for a dialogue to take place around the collaboration that challenges the artist to create something which is out of his or her comfort zone. And from that point, you the artist are pushed to grow.
This is the Place is showing till the 31st of October at Salon 91.
Credits: Photography by Henry Richard Summers.