Review: Bona Fides at Jan Royce Gallery

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Kelly JohnsonMichelle Aucamp makes her debut as a curator, with a group exhibition held at a gallery situated in one of Cape Town’s lesser known corners, otherwise known as the Original Antique Street Market.

Participating artists (Martin Wilson, Christiaan Diedericks, Nina Liebenberg, Fabian Saptauw, Kelly Johnson, Bert Pauw, Franco Kellerman, Elize De Beer, Rupert Green, Paris Brummer and Lauren Theunissen) have been challenged to deliver work that uses the written word to find meaning in our daily lives. The results – mostly photography, text and mono-print – depict and analyse the reality that as human beings, we live our lives following rules of conduct, both spoken and unspoken.  Among the eleven artists, all of whom are recent graduates from the Michaelis School of Fine Art, Lauren Theunissen, Kelly Johnson and Elize De Beer present work that stands out in a particularly intriguing way.

Kelly Johnson creates mountainous landscapes by photographing crumpled topographical maps, placed at an angle and in black and white. She then creates a contrast with a solid white background which takes up most of the negative space floating above her contoured landscapes.

A series of mono-prints by De Beer catches the viewer’s eye by bringing forth an array of letters through what looks like subtractive methods, leaving the background black and untouched. They are strategically placed within the background, middle ground and foreground, falling in columns, reminiscent of The Matrix, giving the viewer a sense of depth and complexity.

Lauren Theunissen’s work takes a more realistic and direct approach to the theme of the exhibition. She has photographed the daily happenings of the streets of Cape Town, capturing moments found in basic daily activities coupled with street signs which dictate how spaces are to be used. The photographs she displays are from an ongoing journey she appropriately dubs ‘Walking the City’, in which she studies the many brief moments she encounters on her walks. All of her photographs are taken with her cellphone camera in order to be as unobtrusive as possible.

The exhibition examines through text, print and photography how our social interactions are affected by the guidelines that are constantly present on a historic, social and personal level. Michelle Aucamp has put together an exceptional representation of the inspired collective, examining how the truth of any interaction is heavily influenced by the spaces we occupy.

Cleo Henry

Bona Fides runs at Jan Royce Gallery until 30 July 2016.

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