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PORTRAYING humanity is the fascinating exhibition called Homosapien, which runs at KZNSA Gallery until Sunday.
According to a statement, the show is bound together by a group of artists who gravitate towards the human form.
They include Peter Rippon, Elizabeth Balcomb, Christiaan Diedericks, Ledelle Moe, Sarah Lovejoy, Vulindlela Nyoni, Niel Jonker, Grace Kotze and Sandra Hanekom.
As much as the exhibition is about the portrayal of humanity, it is also about the artist’s personal journey within the self. The show includes prints, paintings and sculptures.
In an interview with Tonight, Rippon and Balcomb explain their art and what it symbolises. In his still life paintings, Rippon explores the idea of collecting, preserving and presenting objects.
“In the portraits, I simply wish to portray a quiet and tender humanity. I try to capture a serene, unassuming mood, stripped of human pretensions.
“The still life paintings deal more with the inner world of people. They show the traces we leave behind and offer a glimpse into the way we view and try to understand the world.”
Specialising in painting, he says he works in oils because he finds them richer and more versatile than other paints.
“I enclose my subject matter within the picture plane in recessed spaces, which suggests that the subject depicted is actually situated in the viewer’s perceptual field.
“This heightens the immediacy and intimacy of the painting, stripping away the safety barrier between the viewer and the subject matter.
“The surface of the painting becomes a thin boundary that separates the space of our world from the space of the painted world, and yet the painted objects sometimes have the illusion of crossing that barrier,” he shares.
In terms of Rippon’s creative process, his ideas develop gradually and sometimes appear quite suddenly.
“I visit second-hand stores and thrift shops, galleries and museums to try to encourage inspiration.
“I collect interesting objects and keep them in my studio and allow them time to work their way into my ideas.
“I set up arrangements and take photos, sometimes manipulating them on computer to alter the composition.”
For sculptor Balcomb, her work reflects her journey as a human being and a woman.
“It’s about our place on this planet as a race, our role, and then more specifically the role and value of a woman in our consumer society. Where your income measures your worth.
“We are all subscribed to a machine which works outside natural law.
“The woman’s role as nurturer and child raiser has been sacrificed to this insatiable monster; our planet is being sacrificed to it.
“Somehow this machine has taken precedence over life,” she says.
As an artist, Balcomb would like to create works which fill the viewer’s mind totally and bring out an emotional response in them.
“So that for a particular period of time when they are looking at it, nothing else exists, and their world is distilled to a single moment.”
According to her, people who attend the exhibition can expect many different interpretations of life from artists who are very accomplished.
“There will be works which will move you. There will be works which do nothing for you, and there may be work which you don’t like at all.
“But what you will get is a small glimpse of very talented humans, dedicated to baring the human soul.”
• The exhibition runs at KZNSA Gallery until Sunday. Call 031 277 1705.