Mikhael Subotzky: Show ‘n Tell

Goodman Gallery, Cape Town, South Africa
16 Aug 2014 - 13 Sep 2014

Mikhael Subotzky: Show ‘n Tell

Mikhael Subotzky, Sticky-tape Transfer 04, South African Panorama 1981, 2014 Pigment inks, dirt, white-out tape and J-Lar tape on cotton paper, 131 x 185 cm

Show ‘n Tell at Goodman Gallery Cape Town presents a number of new works by Mikhael Subotzky, alongside a work that he made over ten years ago. At the heart of the exhibition is the psychological disparity between what it means to “show” something, and what is implied in “telling” about it. This subject has been central to Subotzky’s work, to varying degrees, since graduating from The University of Cape Town in 2004.

“ Show ‘n Tell builds on the concerns of my previous body of work, Retinal Shift. I’m interested in situations where two opposing things can both be true, or at least coexist. And I’m interested in the psychology of this, the psychological need to split those things off from one another,” Subotzky explained in an interview with Valérie Labayle of Musée MAC/VAL. “In Show ‘n Tell this plays out largely in the relationship between abstraction and representation. Of course, artists have been interested in optical illusions almost for as long as artworks have been made. My interest in this is specif¬ic to my experience. Autostereograms were a popular craze of the 1990s when I was a kid. So on the one hand they are a historical illustration of my early visual experiences of duality. But they are also interesting in relation to vision. The 3-D image that one ‘sees’ in the autostereogram doesn’t exist on our retinas. It is created entirely in our brains as a result of a repeated pattern, which takes advantage of our binocular vision in order to trick the brain into seeing three-dimensional form. Part of trying to understand how two opposing things can both be true is necessarily about the nature of truth itself, and thus about perception, memory and ontology too. This is why the imagery in Show ‘n Tell, both abstract and representational, draws from a wide range of scientific and mythological sources – two realms where truth and the nature of reality are thought about and contested.”


Mikhael Subotzky’s work has been exhibited and collected by venues such as The Museum of Modern Art in New York, The South African National Gallery in Cape Town and the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. He has received, amongst others, the 2012 Standard Bank Young Artist Award, The 2012 Discovery Award at Arles, the 2009 Oskar Barnack Award and the 2008 ICP Infinity Award.





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