STEVENSON, Johannesburg, South Africa 15 Aug 2013 - 28 Sep 2013
This is his fourth show with works by Zander Blom at Stevenson, simply titled New Paintings.
Blom describes the current state of his practice:
‘In painting there are many roads or directions one can take. So far I’ve been spending my time here as a drifter, exploring as many roads as I can, taking in the environment and savouring the moments. I’m perpetually trying to find out what more the world of painting has to offer, and I often fantasise about the as-yet unrealised images that lie out there in abundance waiting to be discovered. By drifting I’m covering plenty of ground without rushing towards anything in particular. Some roads meander along for a while and then turn off onto huge highways or intersections. Some roads lead to dead ends, or to walking around in circles. Often one has to cut through big empty fields or valleys, getting your boots muddy, to get to a road that may take you somewhere interesting. It’s not uncommon for a promising looking road to turn out to be a tedious bore, and to find oneself quickly veering off in a different direction. This is not to say that any one road is necessarily better than another. The most compelling results often come from walking along short dead-end roads or trekking through the mud. Besides, the measure of success for me lies not so much in individual works as in the depth and extent of the journey. It is exhilarating to see a map draw itself, or a story write itself, as you wander along looking for new possibilities.
Naturally, new exhibitions of my paintings consist of work from the most recent period, This simply means paintings that were made between this exhibition and the one preceding it. A period of work can consist of paintings from a web of different roads taken. This particular body of work, however, feels like one long snaking road with its own subtle peaks and valleys. A specific strain of mark-making wanted to develop. It started out as rigid grid-like arrangements of thick smears or dabs of oil paint roughly applied to canvas with a small pallet knife. These marks that initially read as crude static binary code are starting to evolve into hives, forming clusters of swarming constellations. Complex organic swirls are coming to life, begging to become solid and then threatening to dissolve and disappear again.
Last year’s feverish, almost violent desire for simplicity and a narrowed focus seems to have opened up into a space of subtle dematerialisation. Solid shapes and large masses are gently breaking down into smaller particles, forming soft textures and dissolving into the picture plane. Colour is back on my pallet knife but the agitated, almost offbeat colours and smeared particles of works from a couple of months ago have already given way to a softer, gentler, lighter mood, closer in spirit to that of French Impressionism. I’m rediscovering artists such as Seurat, Pissarro, Van Gogh and especially Monet with his cathedrals and water lilies. In the spirit of this calm atmosphere, I’ve allowed music to occupy a much larger space in my universe than usual. Currently half of my working days are spent experimenting with free-form composition either on the piano or electric guitar and drums in my little music room, while the other half is spent painting while listening to piano sonatas. Musical terms like tone and rhythm suddenly seem important in my painting and a direct relationship between the two forms has become visibly and audibly apparent. Some paintings appear to look like musical notation or scores, while my musical experiments are becoming more abstract, minimal and refined. The two forms seem to be growing towards each other.
At this moment it feels like this particular road could snake along forever and yield many interesting results. There seem to be no blind alleys, no forks or intersections in sight. However, like all roads this one will no doubt end, quite abruptly, at some point, giving way to something entirely different. So for now I’m simply strolling along enjoying the flow and the scenery, because this moment has to be seized and painted out before it is over. It won’t be long before the road spits out into all sorts of new directions.’
Zander Blom was born in 1982 in Pretoria, and lives in Johannesburg. Solo shows have taken place at the Savannah College of Art and Design in Savannah and Atlanta, Georgia, USA (2011-12); Galerie van der Mieden in Antwerp and 5x6x9, Berlin (2010), in addition to Stevenson. Group shows include The Evolution of Art 1830-2140, Kuckei + Kuckei, Berlin (2013); The Global Contemporary: Art worlds after 1989, ZKM Center for Art and Media Karlsruhe, Germany (2011); Ampersand, Daimler Contemporary, Berlin (2010); and .ZA: Young art from South Africa, Palazzo Delle Papesse, Siena, Italy (2008). A catalogue raisonné of Blom’s paintings from 2010 to 2012, Paintings Volume I, was recently published by Stevenson, featuring an essay by art historian Courtney J Martin.
The exhibition opens on Thursday 15 August, from 6 to 8pm.