Darkness and Wonder

Darkness and Wonder

12/5/09 - 31/05/09 KZNSA Gallery, 166 Bulwer road, Glenwood, Durban 4001
T:+27 (0)31 277 1705 F:+27 (0)31 201 8051
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Darkness and Wonder: New Oil Paintings by Grace Kotze
An Artthrob Review by Peter Machen:



Darkness_and_Wonder thumb_Darkness_and_Wonder__Garbriel Habitat_1 Habitat_2 Habitat_5 Habitat_4 Habitat_3
Darkness_and_Wonder_3 Gabiel_Hand_on_Hip Gabriel_Side_Front_View Gabriel_Side_View Darkness_and_Wonder_Insect_Collection
North_Bound_From_Tollgate_Bridge_copy North_Bound_from_Tollgate_Bridge__1 North_Bound_from_Tollgate_Bridge__2 North_Bound_from_Tollgate_Bridge__3 North_Bound_from_Tollgate_Bridge__4 Museum_Studies_2 Museum_Studies_3 Museum_studies_4
Cicada_Collection Figure_Study Hay_Bales Antelope_Skull Partial_Chest_Study Gabriel
Endoskeleton_etc Tilled_Field Endoskeleton_Thoracic_Vertebra Exoskeleton_Cicada Endoskeleton_Olecranon
Mounted_Specimens Bird_Specimens Self-portrait_with_Cicada Sefl_Portrait_with_Cicadas_detail Fragments_1 Fragments_3 thumb_Fragments_4 Fragments_5

This new set of oil paintings are autobiographical. Reflections on my relationship with the extreme set of emotions, Darkness and Wonder, that so often exist side by side. During times of personal and national tragedy, a sense of darkness and foreboding is very strong. Yet the human nature and it's need to interact with both the internal and external constantly draws the human spirit into a state of wonder.

 A pubescent child and images derived from my experiences at the natural history museum, are the main metaphors that found a place of resonance when I was considering such emotional states.

Pubity is an age where one is confronted with self realisation, awareness of immortality, heightened insecurities and new responsibilities. Emotions exist in a state of extreme delight and intrigue of newly acquired knowledge, often followed by a state of confusion, fear and dread of responsibilities carried by such knowledge.

The natural history museum educates and celebrates the complexities, versatility and uniqueness of the natural world, yet often has a sense of foreboding. Glass cases house the bodies of taxidermy animals, pinned insects, empty eggs devoid of potential life, extinct species, skeletons, etc. fill an often atmospheric and gloomy interior.

These metaphors have concrete origins in my development, when I was about sixteen I spent many a content hour waiting for my dad to finish work, passing my time at the Pietermaritzburg Natural History Museum.

Metaphors are the emotive keys in the paintings, not an end in themselves. A way of anchoring my delight in the emotional possibilities of colour, mark and the manipulation of composition. The technical aspects of producing these works carry as much "meaning" as the images, which are a more literary interpretation of emotional states. When I allow the vocabulary of my materials to take root, the real delight in the painting process comes into effect and hopefully this imbues an emotional element into the images.

Combined with the metaphoric, emotional and technical intrigue of the images, are the visual dialogues that drew me to them, such as the myriad of contrasting surface textures and the staged lighting forming moody and dramatically lit displays. In this body of work such concerns took form with the delicate texture of the pubescent skin, bristled and brittle exoskeletons of insects, rigid animal skeletons, translucent malleable layers of skins hinting at what is beneath, darkly lit painted landscapes with spot lights shining on the foreground displays etc.

We coexist with the notions of immortality and constant rebirth, the tragic and the celebratory, often seen in a single incident or creature. Thus forcing us to face these extremes on a daily basis leading us into the emotions of Darkness and Wonder.

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