Barnard Gallery is pleased to present the group exhibition entitled Fluid: Perspectives in Paint.
Since the invention of photography and the rise of conceptualism, the so called “death of painting” has been announced by artists and critics alike time and time again. Often cast as a calcified medium in the world of contemporary art, many question or remain dismissive of painting’s ability to respond to the complexities of a globalized, hyper-textual and aggressively digital world. Put to trial against popular contemporary media such as video, photography, new media and installation, painting would seem to fall short – too traditional in a world which modernizes at an exponential rate, too rigid in a postcolonial, global society that becomes ever more multifarious, too concrete in a system which sees long held notions of identity dissolve and understandings of time and place become more and more immaterial. It is this notion that exhibitions such as the present Fluid: Perspectives in Paint aim to challenge, by affirming painting’s enduring role in artistic practice and exploring contemporary variations in medium and method, concept and construction. Indeed, the works collected for this exhibition demonstrate that between the poles of abstraction and realism, surface and depth, narrative and chaos, painting continues to offer artists a seemingly inexhaustible space for subtlety, nuance and invention. Painting’s enduring dominance of the global art market likewise stands testament to its enduring ability to captivate and challenge audiences.
While some of the works on show speak in similar languages – the photorealism of Gina Heyer and Jaco van Schalkwyk, the expressionism of Kirsten Lilford and Fanie Buys, the impasto of Ryan Hewett, the abstraction of Anton Karstel and Colijn Strydom, the fluid markmaking of Robyn Penn and Alexia Vogel – their visual vernaculars remain distinct, maintaining an independence of conceptual thrust and mode of engagement that draws on tradition while remaining unquestionably contemporary. While some may mourn the death of painting, this collection of works presents an alternative vision: one in which the medium is very much alive, essential and enduring both for emerging and established practitioners.