WORK OF ART: Lynette Bester's Cathedral I consists of steel scaffolding, steel clamps and wooden components from a 1930s upright piano.. Picture: Alexia Beckering
WORK OF ART: Lynette Bester's Cathedral I consists of steel scaffolding, steel clamps and wooden components from a 1930s upright piano.. Picture: Alexia Beckering

CIRCA Gallery is a wonderful space that has recently opened.

This exhibition, entitled Cubicle, is apt as each artist is given a cubicle, quite literally, a space in which to present their body of work.

Each space exists in its own right, although the works of each artist appear to “speak” to one another. Furthermore, such spaces harbour a beautiful, natural light accentuated by the fireplaces, and this only adds to the ambiance.

Yet it is the works that enliven, and the exhibition does not disappoint. Each artist creates a unique vantage point or style, and a highly sophisticated language.

Galia Gluckman’s work is impressive. Incorporating paint and collage elements, a symphony of greens, yellows and gold suggest a rich surface quality, a jewel-like effect with the resonance both of natural form and psychological introspection. A shimmering surface quality is created that appears to form a coherent gestalt.

Justin Southey’s paintings somehow evoke a water sound as I listened intently (the visual, while silent, lends itself quite curiously to certain sounds).

Many associations abound, as the paintings seem at once to be derivative of the/a landscape as well as being portals to the mind, a kind of stream of consciousness.

Louise Mason’s paintings elevate the air or rather convey a lighter, quirky and playful edge.

Miro-like, an unlikely reference to (local) beach-life is imaginatively abstracted, simplified and schematised. Yachts, umbrellas and figures are just about perceptible as they are happily transformed into cubes, squares, squiggles and shapes.

As if everyday life takes on a purely visual meaning – the happiness, laughter and gaiety of the beach – a sort of high-pitched sound becomes the source of inspiration for a whimsical play of basic, child-like abstract qualities.

Penny Stutterheim’s abstract fields of colour are particularly successful. It is difficult to pull off pure colour surfaces, yet one senses that the colour has been heavily worked or layered, yet the works are not brooding or overly saturated.

Many of the works take months to develop, and one senses that the forms, which verge on rectangles and potentially lying on the background mass of pure colour or even embedded in these masses, carry certain psychological depth. Here I refer to the use of pairs of shapes that resonate as a kind of heart, as if these are right and left ventricles that speak of time and meditation.

That is, both a high and low sound frequency might stir the viewer into a rhythmic flow, just as the heart pumps hundreds of litres of blood each day. The influence of Nicolas de Stael may be cited here, a painter of Russian origin known for his use of thick impasto and highly abstract landscape painting.

Finally, Lynette Bester’s installations, or rather painting-sculpture-assemblages, are powerful and appear to give off a low, sonorous sound. Primarily black and brown, she has deconstructed and then reconstructed pianos in a highly original way, assembling these into new compositional entities.

Pianos become metaphors for the capacity to destroy one thing in order to create another, surely an art which suggests that a new object may be created out of the old, that the piano now assumes a different function, albeit veiled.

The craft of such re-imaginings is accomplished, and the works on the wall blur the boundary between positive and negative shape, which is then taken to a new level in Bes-
ter's free-standing installation en-
titled Cathedral that transforms the everyday object into a different, yet non-functional, object, save as art.

In this respect, perhaps it is art that may lead to a re-evaluation of self and society. Or is its revolutionary impulse deadened by the system of free-market exchange and, well, the rat race?

Exhibition info: CUBICLE

At CIRCA Gallery, family of Everard Read Galleries

A group show

Until January 22.