In this exhibition van Schalkwyk plays with ‘Painting’s’ relationship to the ‘Documentary’ in order to engage a world ‘freeze-framed’ in time. Through his painterly investigation of the everyday life of an isolated community, van Schalkwyk captures the passage of time and its navigation of the temporal to the eternal.
The work draws from a five year period of observation, of the Jatniël Faith home community where he spent his childhood. Documenting the everyday activities and rituals; traditions and values; the environment and the effect time has on this community of people, he elevates the mundane to create a metaphor for life as a spiritual activity, highlighting their value system of putting God and community ahead of the individual.
The artist draws inspiration from 17th Century Dutch painting, portraits and vintage photographs, combining the compositional qualities of random snapshots with these historical influences to create a portrait for the 21st Century of the life and lifestyle of his personal ‘then’ and ‘now’. The imagery deals with the concepts of community, slaughter, sacrifice and survival. Interior, exterior and landscape juxtapose to underline the fugitive nature of time. The skilled and compassionate portrayal of the people and places he paints, in diffused and subtle blue and brown colour harmonies, create a mood of introspection, leading the viewer to ask questions about the quality of life and our place in the greater scheme.
This, his first solo exhibition, is groundbreaking yet traditional, bridging heritage and modernity in a quest to define what it means to be an individual yet part of a community in this time.