Jonah Sack: Obstruction

blank projects, Cape Town, South Africa
12 Mar 2016 - 09 Apr 2016

Jonah Sack: Obstruction

‘Obstruction’ comprises two bodies of work: a series of constructions in wood, paper, and tape; and paintings in oil on plywood and canvas. The two series are visually distinct, but share certain formal strategies and conceptual concerns. They play on the boundary between abstraction and representation, using a language of formal experimentation that emerges from South African Modernism, and specifically from the artist’s own family history.

The sculptural constructions borrow from industrial architecture in their proliferation of rods and joints, like billboards on the roof of a building, or electrical pylons along the highway. Some of them evoke highveld rainstorms, with paper clouds and supporting sticks standing in for falling water. These structures are also informed by a tradition of abstract sculpture. They make reference to the work of the artist’s grandfather, the architect Monty Sack, and sculptures by Edoardo Villa, who frequently worked with him. But while Villa used painted steel and Monty Sack is primarily known for his buildings, Jonah Sack works in flimsier, friendlier materials. Dowel sticks, tape, and paper lend themselves to quick improvisation, and the finished objects remain playful and provisional in appearance.

Abstraction jostles representation in the paintings, too. Figures or parts of figures emerge from areas of painterly mark-making, alongside patches of bare wood. This play between figure and ground is made literal in the recurring images of feet and legs. Metaphorically, the paintings raise the question of stance: of how we stand in relation to a particular landscape, and in relation to a particular history and heritage.  The precarious balance of the works in Obstruction argues for a stance that is likewise nimble and unsettled.

Jonah Sack (b. Johannesburg, 1978) is an artist living and working in Cape Town. He studied at the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, and received his MFA from the Glasgow School of Art. He has been a fellow of the Skye Foundation and the Gordon Institute for Performing and Creative Arts at the University of Cape Town. Recently, Sack’s work has been exhibited at the Jewish Museum in New York as part of Sights and Sounds: Global Film and Video. He has had a number of solo exhibitions in Johannesburg and Cape Town. Sack’s collaboration with Francis Burger, the Independent Publishing Project, was installed at blank projects in 2011. Obstruction is his first solo exhibition at the gallery.



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