Philippe Uzac and Deon Venter’s works strikes out to the viewer here in the Everard Read Gallery in Rosebank. Venter’s work pushes the viewer to stand back and see the paintings in perspective as most of them are over three meters large. While the bold colours of Uzac’s works draw the viewer into a different mood in each bold colour. While both artists attract one with their fantastic use in textures.
Title of Deon Venter’s exhibition There is no Path/The Path is Made by Walking is printed in in large letters as one enters the room. Immediately one is lulled into the nude colours of his paintings and the abstractions of his use in texture.
Born in 1956, the South African artist Deon Venter now lives in Canada and exhibits around the world. His artistic career began after he graduated with a Fine Arts Diploma Hon from the Port Elizabeth School of Art and Design in South Africa.
His style is characterised by the bare grids that lie between the thick layers of oil paint. His larger than life paintings push the viewer to the opposite wall to be able to see the images, yet simultaneously pull them closer to view the details of the oil textures and grids of each painting.
His exhibition points out the detail of skin tones in his many nudes referencing the painting of Edouard Manet’s “Olympia” as he too named his paintings ‘Olympia’. His paintings come into being from highly charged historical events primarily the turing point of having painted Olympia in 1880. Venter explores the event seven of his eleven paintings while the other painting are a mashup of faces and landscapes.
However, the exhibition feels tiering and repetitive. Each painting is in a similar colour scheme and feeling as the one next to it. One is not drawn into every painting, it is as though Venter had to explore Manet’s Olympia in as many different canvases, not necessarily angles or situations as possible.
When walking into Philippe Uzac’s solo exhibition, ‘Laub’ a feeling of fun and stronger emotions occurs to the viewer as the paintings are bold and speak loudly. Each painting is almost a solid colour. The contrast between Uzac and Venter’s work is worlds apart in terms of atmosphere and intellectual feel.
Laub consists of eight large wooden panels each reveals the scratched away layers of oil paint, wax and chemicals. On first glance the paintings looks simple and easy to comprehend, yet on further inspection the detail of each one draws the viewer in so see how each layer has been worked on and scratched away. The collection of work give a feeling of warm and peaceful emotions, the longer one views them the more the feeling of nostalgia is felt.
It is clear that the artist has been inspired by the flat works of colour from Mark Rothko and Kasimir Malevich. Although each painting has a character of layers the overall canvas is set in one single colour. The process of Uzac’s paintings are visible as each layer of paint is pealed away to expose the underneath surfaces. His works are inspired by the textures around his studio in downtown Johannesburg. One can almost feel the old cement floors waxed patiently and unremittingly over the years, rusting industrial equipment abandoned in a forlorn wasteland or walls of old buildings stained and patched with layers of paper board teared off and hanging in the wind which inspired him.
Laub 16 faces the viewer as one enters into the room, it immediately draws one into a warm and comfortable space. The orange hues overlapping the greens and blues are finely woven with the odd harsher and larger scratch markings. The exhibition of the work is done in such a seamless manner that one can almost overlook the details of the scratching, etching and rubbing of the paint.
When exiting the main two exhibit rooms the gallery still holds many other artworks from previous exhibitions. For the regular visitors to the gallery one will reencounter many works, however each work is enchanting enough to capture ones attention again. The works include those of Walter Battis, Wane Barker and Guy du Toit amongst about 40 others.