Air creates inspiration

COMING TOGETHER: Cyril Coetzee, curator of Air: Inspiration – Expiration.

The final exhibition in a thematic series of the elements is now open to the public in Johannesburg.

Air: Inspiration – Expiration, is the latest exhibition running at the Standard Bank Gallery in Johannesburg. According to the curator, Cyril Coetzee, who spoke at the opening of the show at the gallery on 7 October, it was no simple task to put together an art collection under the theme, Air.

“I was involved in conceptualising and interpreting how the theme would be expressed. Air, in itself, is an invisible thing, so how do you make a visible art show out of something invisible?”

Presented with the theme, Coetzee found a number of artists who engaged in art and science, and produced works that explore the idea of air. The artists who make up the exhibition have each used their unique perspectives to create works that show the concept of air in different ways.

While Robyn Penn chose to delve into the interface between science and art, depicting air in oil paintings of clouds and the sky; Mary Wafer chose to use her art to talk about the relationship between art and politics, painting an aerial view of the protesters at Marikana during the infamous massacre in 2012.

In addition to creating the show, Coetzee also compiled a catalogue of the works with literary contributions from a number of influential artists, scientists and writers including entomologist, Jonathan Ball, environmental scientist, Simon Gear and artist, Madeline Groenewald.

“It snowballed from approaching artists who I thought had done interesting work in the field of air and breath, and you then meet other artists with similar interests – and you have to remember that this all takes place in a space of about two years,” Coetzee said and talked about how the exhibition and its catalogue came together.

Through this two-month long exhibition, he hopes that viewers will be able to think of the elements in a different way, and also create awareness about the dwindling resources on earth. “This exhibition should give viewers a very varied experience, through art, of what air is about.

“There was the underlying motivation that people would become more aware of the environment. People need to think about air and water, because we take them for granted,” he concluded.

Air: Inspiration – Expiration is now open for viewing until 3 December.

Racine Edwardes

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