The historic depiction of the South African landscape in art bares a dark smudge across it. When Pierneef, inspired by Nationalist ideals, painted the people out of the landscape, he painted a deep politicism into it, and we haven’t been completely able to shake this since. The Loom of the Land, a group show curated by Anton Kannemeyer at Stevenson Gallery in Johannesburg relooks this historically troubled subject, and looks beyond it, to re-presents it in a new light.
Coupled with its historical baggage, the landscape genre has also been done-to-death; it’s the ham sandwich of art. The works on the show however, have all been selected for their ability to offer something new and unexpected to this, one of the most traditional genres in art. Each work, in some way, whether it be through medium, subject matter or composition, re-presents the landscape as something alive, dynamic, and imbued with complexities of meaning that disrupt expectations.
The show boasts works by all the who’s-who of the South African contemporary art scene:
Conrad Botes, Wim Botha, Paul Edmunds, David Goldblatt, Ian Grose, Pieter Hugo, Mark Kannemeyer (Lorcan White), Jacques de Loustal, Johann Louw, Mack Magagane, Titus Matiyane, Zanele Muholi, Brett Murray, John Murray, Daniel Naudé, Hylton Nel, Deborah Poynton, Jo Ractliffe, Claudette Schreuders, Ina van Zyl, Garth Walker, and Kannemeyer himself.
However, despite this all-star line-up, Kannemeyer has masterfully curated the show so that the works are in unison with one another rather than in conflict. Each work is able to stand alone in its own merit, and simultaneously co-exist and add to the overarching narrative of collection in the space.