The project is an exploration of “the uncanny valley separating the visceral experience and the unbridled expression of our innermost fears and desires” he says.
Using an AI-assisted painterly approach and digital photography, the artist “shines light on the archetypal twins of the psyche, dancing on the edge of chaos while moving gently to the tune of the tamed and civilised mind”.
Each canvas shatters a dark mirror of restraint and breaks the window into the wilderness of each subject’s soul - a portrait of the unconscious.
Skin Deep is a departure from the artist’s previous body of work, Intimate Loneliness: Sex With Things, as he is exploring the darker side to identity.
In that work, he used photographs of mannequins as symbolism of the world we live in, emphasising a disconnection from reality.
The new work aims at stripping yet another layer to reveal the core, which is our distorted image of ourselves.
“These pictures take me on a journey into the deepest, darkest parts of my psyche. The place where all the pain, anguish and dark thoughts have at some point resided; the childhood bullies, the manipulators, the abusers, the people who wilfully harmed for their own gain, and my own dark desires, which at times are more fearful than living perpetrators. My voice roars, standing tall, upright and strong,” says SaySay.Love.
“As my roar ends, my eyes find the woman, light, pure, full of love, and I’m reminded that no matter how far I travel down into the madness, there is always a chink where life shines in and I know with every fibre of my being that love always wins. Equilibrium is restored.”
South African artist Aniek Nieuwenhuis will exhibit some of her related work as part of the exhibition.
SaySay.Love says he chose to collaborate with Nieuwenhuis because “there is a special synergy” between the work they will showcase together.
“The images I have created for this project come from a raw place.
“Skin Deep digs into psychosomatic and fleshy layers of fear and pain. Aniek’s ability in expressing herself through deep alchemical dreaming shines through in her art.
"On some unplanned level, her story is also felt through the canvas of my creation.”
Nieuwenhuis was born in Pretoria in 1995 and raised in Stellenbosch.
In 2007 she was awarded a full academic scholarship by the Make a Difference (Mad) Leadership Foundation, which enabled her to pursue a degree in fine arts at the UCT.
Her work mainly focuses on the psychological challenges that come with being physically different and she does this through reflecting on her personal experience as a burn survivor.
SaySay.Love has been supporting the Mad Leadership Foundation since 2017. Proceeds of the sale of his work at Gallery One11 will go towards the foundation.
The foundation supports high school learners and tertiary students through their academic and personal journeys, to help ensure that they have the necessary tools and opportunities to reach their full potential.