Keith Dietrich: 'Fragile Histories' & Elizabeth Gunter: 'Fugitive Lives' Opens 10 Oct-21 Nov 2012

By: BRUNDYN + GONSALVES  10-01-2012
Keywords: Art Gallery, Fine Art, Art Exhibition

BRUNDYN + GONSALVES is proud to present a dual exhibition by Keith Dietrich and Elizabeth Gunter. Keith Dietrich’s Fragile Histories may be viewed as a kind of “book” comprising four sections or “volumes” that narrate the tensions and textures of early colonial encounters at the Cape in South Africa. The work alludes to the rich though unsettled histories of the people who inhabited this heterogeneous space; a space characterised by astonishing cultural, linguistic and religious diversity. Amidst this melting pot were the indigenous Khoi and San people, Chinese and European visitors and settlers, slaves born at the Cape and also from greater Africa, the Indian subcontinent and the Dutch East Indies (Indonesia), Dutch East Indian political exiles and convicts, free blacks; and the offspring resulting from the mixing of these groups. The only traces of these people that remain are in the form of court records of trials at the Cape. Fragile Histories is informed by a set of trials that took place during the 1700s, and in particular by the atrocious sentences that were meted out for transgressions against a social order in which these people found themselves. The evocative images in Dietrich’s photomontage triptychs inscribe and map texts from these trials over the body, with agony and sorrow depicted as rays of energy radiating outwards from bodily organs. In Fugitive Lives Elizabeth Gunter examines themes of duality within birth and death and the quiet violence imbued in the notion that the first step towards one’s death begins with birth. The exhibition juxtaposes exquisitely rendered large graphite and charcoal dust drawings with delicate small-scale sculptures cast in polyurethane, wax or silicone. This juxtaposition is extended into the thematic content of the works themselves through Gunter’s intimate depictions of animals such as the rhinoceros, elephant, and buffalo. Once fully grown, these animals have connotations to size, strength and might. Here however, they are depicted in the vulnerable foetal stages of their development, existing within a liminal pre-birth space. In this way, Gunter shifts dichotomies such as small/big, soft/hard, birth/death, beginning/end, weakness/strength and fleetingness/endurance to the point where their divisions become permeable membranes as opposed to impenetrable seals. Oppositional materialities become metaphors for immaterialities that drive our relationships with animals. Keith Dietrich (born in Johannesburg, 1950) studied graphic design at Stellenbosch University where he graduated with a BA degree in Visual Arts in 1974. Between 1975 and 1977 he studied painting at the National Higher Institute for Fine Arts in Antwerp, Belgium. He obtained his MA in Fine Arts (cum laude) in 1983 and his D Litt et Phil in Art History in 1993, both at the University of South Africa (Unisa). He has lectured at the University of Pretoria and Unisa, and is currently Chair of the Department of Visual Arts and Director of the Centre for Comic, Illustrative and Book Arts (CCIBA) at Stellenbosch University. Dietrich has participated in over thirty community interaction projects in southern Africa and has received a number of awards, in South Africa and abroad, for both his creative and his academic work. He has participated in over 70 group exhibitions and biennials in Belgium, Botswana, Chile, Egypt, Germany, Italy, Namibia, the Netherlands, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the USA, and has held 20 solo exhibitions in South Africa. His work is represented in 37 corporate and public collections in South Africa and abroad. Elizabeth Gunter (born 1957) studied Fine Art at Stellenbosch University, where she graduated with a BA degree in Visual Arts in 1978. She obtained Honours (1980) and Masters (1984) degrees in Fine Arts and a PhD degree in Visual Arts (2011) from the same university. She has lectured art at various institutions and is currently at the Visual Arts Department at Stellenbosch University, where she founded the DeCentre Drawing Project. She has had several solo exhibitions in the Western Cape, participated in numerous group exhibitions and her work is represented in private, corporate, and public collections both in South Africa and abroad.

Keywords: Art Exhibition, Art Gallery, Fine Art

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