South African Cultural Observatory

CROSS POLLINATION - A Solo Show by Lars Fischerdick at Eclectica Contemporary

BY Dr Danny Shorkend 29.08.17

INNOVATIVE methods, strong intellectual content and guttural undercurrents, these works by Lars Fischerdick are likely to ignite conversation around such a unique aesthetic. Having turned to art full-time rather late, his architectural background has certainly come in handy. It allows for an understanding of materials and for powerful craftsmanship. Yet, rather than be dictated by utilitarian and functional interests as is unavoidable in the applied arts such as architecture, here there are excursions and flights of the imagination that touch on metaphysics, mathematics, physics and even history and politics. In conversation with the artist, such dimensions become apparent.

His method relies on the combination of geometric structure, limited colour range as well as an investigation of the surface materiality through interventions such as hacking and finely cutting into wood and various other carefully chosen formats. He uses resin, perspex and the subtle nuances between grades and shades of black or white, the various subtleties of the wood surface. His style thus is both two dimensional and painterly as well as three dimensional and sculptural. For this show, although he simply described it to me at this point, he also ventures into installation art and by what was so described it is sure to create a moving experience for the gallery-goer.

Of great interest was his understanding and use of projective geometry, a non-Euclidian geometry that hints at the infinite. “The infinite” is a phrase oft used by Fischerdick as he talks about the point that in its one dimensionality exists only as a concept, where a line is in fact an area of sorts and where geometric structures delineate the passage of light and the shadows that come in its wake.

It seems to me he is trying to find a state of being which Bruce Lee may have referred to – drawing from Eastern philosophy – as the void. It is a “space” where opposites somehow converge, an all-inclusiveness, without partiality to either one pole of apparent dualities. Here, however he seems to want to say there is a kind of interconnectedness of the perpetrator and victim.

Lars Fischerdick comes from Germany and carries the weight of much of its history in a psychological sense. I asked him if he expresses anger when he works into these surfaces, even bisecting the structures of working right through the material. He said that he has come to peace with the past. I question whether such a position holds as his “perpetrator-victim” dialectic as he explicitly states as the terror of the Nazis’, is perhaps rather cold and sober. It is here that mathematics fails as a system for that same precision and cunning was used to decimate and destroy. Infinity then becomes a word that only appears to transcend the primitive actuality of the materials, when in fact as his one piece expresses – “Everything is broken”. Perhaps it is better to lament and struggle with the past, rather than to find peace with it. Surely that is a buffer against simply repeating whatever atrocities and crimes against humanity that have occurred.

In fact, he likens the German experience to South Africa where he has resided for the past 15 years.  The levelling of the Berlin wall and the dismantling of Apartheid happened around similar times. The perpetrator-victim dynamic applies equally well in the South African context.

This historical and I suppose political reading is curious, considering all that is presented are quite well-finished beautiful objects. There seems to be tremendous order and precision. Yet it is abstract, so the interpretation around history is simply encoded, hidden behind the more metaphysical speculations and scientific experimentation.

Of course, such an exhibition is timely considering the rise of right-wing and extremist elements, but I would caution against seeing only such a narrative and instead also focus on the potential psychological dimension, wherein light and shadow are inextricably linked and it is through the transformation, rather than the annihilation of the Thanatos within that may lead to inner peace. This in turn necessarily leads to a more harmonious and integrated world “order”. The exhibition will certainly delight if not caution and I end with the artist’s assertion that “a new identity” can be forged and here for example he is referring to the latter day Germany’s more open policy when it comes to refugees and immigrants in general.     

Three Solo shows: Turiya Magadlela, Bronwyn Katz and Herman Mbamba At Blank Projects Three Solo shows: Turiya Magadlela, Bronwyn Katz and Herman Mbamba At Blank Projects

RELOCATED to larger premises in Woodstock, Blank Projects is a wonderful space for art. In this premier show, three artists present distinct methods and processes that may be understood in various ways. Magadlela’s “Wabana lapho isifebe, wangena kuso” employs pantyhose on canvas to great effect; Katz uses bed wiring and Mbamba uses acrylics within the context of torn pages from Norwegian fashion magazines.

Dream Rift At Eclectica Design & Art Dream Rift At Eclectica Design & Art

PERCEPTION is often no more than a construction, be it natural/genetic or social/environmental. The value of art lies in its reminding us that perception can be reconstructed, revised and perhaps understood or simply appreciated as esoteric. One way in which such an evaluation can take place is by highlighting the permeable boundary between dreams and what is referred to as reality. Could it be that reality is a mass delusion? Such speculations arrive at satisfactory visual analogues in the form of the artworks on show, each artist developing his/her own language in what can be conceived as an interrogation of the liminal space between the real and the imagined and ultimately between life and death.



SITUATED in the beautiful Franschoek, I was happy to see the work of Kali van der Merwe. Powerful and profound, her work stirs one’s senses and reason in terms of philosophical speculation on the question concerning the relationship between life and death. Based on relics and bodies that she encounters on her farm residence, she has created images of uncanny scientific, taxidermical and magical qualities. There is a sense of structure and order, yet one “imposed” beyond the assumed categories of the sciences. Her path therefore is embraces both a desire to know nature and one that is in awe of – and complicit with – the unfolding of the natural and cosmological realms.

Paintings, prints and sculptures by Nicolaas Maritz Paintings, prints and sculptures by Nicolaas Maritz

ENERGETIC swirls and splotches, sinewy line and strong sweeping gestures in luminous enamel as abstracted faces emerge make for a powerful gallery experience. Maritz can capture both a primitive and primal impulse as well as a kind of digital all- pervasiveness that is compelling as an icon of current portend. Over and above this, he has captured a kind of spirit-energy of the collective human imagination. The faces are abstracted in their child-like simplicity, yet ooze with life. Life as it emanates from the subtle sensing apparatus: two eyes and two ears, a mouth and two nostrils. These are the mediators between what is inside and what is outside. These are the doors of perception that negotiate concrete and a not so concrete sense of the real.


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