Gallery 2 in Parkwood, Johannesburg, recently hosted Machine in the Garden, a trio exhibition featuring works from Heidi Fourie, Allen Laing and Jaco van Schalkwyk. The artists were primarily dealing with ideas and conversations between landscape, nature and memory, as well as man vs. machine vs. nature, eroticism and exoticism.
Of the pieces on display each artist had a work which drew the viewers in and generated conversation.
Allen Laing’s #yesfilter, an intricately made wooden sculpture, a mask, could be perceived in a number of ways, e.g. a gas mask from one view, an elephant face from an alternative view and an insect from the back. The material quality and multiplicity of the mask fascinated many gallery visitors as they were able to experience the work in a compound
way, never limiting their interpretations.
“Because I only had 4 works, I think they all drew approximately equal amounts of attention, but definitely the #yesfilter got more than the others, which makes sense as I put so much more time into it than the rest.”Allen
The collection of small oil on paper works by Jaco van Schalkwyk, drew people’s attention in an intimate way. The meticulous execution of the paintings left them appearing as if they were photographs. The realisation of the illusion of photography through painting captivated viewers, prompting a closer inspection.
Of Heidi Fourie’s work, there were two works which drew the most attention. These include ‘A Pleasant Reviewer’ and ‘Comparative Freedom’. The two works, however different, each had an appeal. The panoramic view of the landscape in ‘A Pleasant Reviewer’ is an image which became relatable and familiar to many viewers as they could immediately relate it to their own experiences of taking panoramic images, which brought the idea of the machine in the garden directly into the experience of the artwork.
The second work – Comparative Freedom – was a strong work, illuminated in an undertone of golden-yellow, and attracted a lot of attention in the subject matter as well as the material quality.
“I think Allen’s work drew much interaction and fascination. Out of my own works, “a pleasant reviewer” surprisingly drew positive comments as well as the two larger works: Comparative Freedom and All Man’s Improvements”Heidi
The artist also had interesting comments on the exhibition:
Jaco van Schalkwyk
My observations of the show would be that it’s a new take on New Romanticism, not in a sentimental way but, also satirical and I guess people could relate to the massive impact the technological revolution has on us and nature and how it shapes the landscape, and also the impact it has on contemporary artists and their practices, hence the title “Machine in the Garden”.
I am very happy with how our works came together in the end. In addition, the colour palette was in sync without prior planning. Some of my favourite works would be the portrait of “Yusuf” in “Homage to a Fellow Traveller”, since it is my way of reintroducing the “Figure” to my landscape painting genre again and him also being very close to me. Such portraits usually have significance in the artists career. Of course I also loved many of Heidi and Allen’s works like the panorama landscape in Heidi’s ‘A Pleasant Reviewer’, and the mask of Allen as you enter the gallery in #yesfilter.
I don’t think that any one specific work stood out, but rather that the three bodies of work hung together so exceptionally well. I think that there are many different ways for works not to make sense together, so the fact that this show gelled so well is what I like the most. The colours, themes and textures are all varied, yet they were very complimentary.
I am very happy with how the exhibition came together and how our works communicated with each other. I also enjoyed the atmosphere of the exhibition. It felt like a calm space to contemplate and escape, with a slight ominousness upon closer inspection. My personal favourites from each artist are Allen’s “Mind Blowing Selfie Sword”, Jaco’s wall installation comprising of the smaller works on paper and my “Comparative freedom”
See the catalogue below for more information regarding the different artists and their work.