2018 Nemora

2018 Nemora


VOLTA 14, Basel

Barnard is pleased to present a solo exhibition in the form of a nine-panel painting installation entitled Nemora, by emerging South African painter Jaco van Schalkwyk, known for his painterly prowess and carefully curated projects.

Since the conception of his 2015 solo exhibition Eden and followed by Arcadia at the 2016 Joburg Art Fair, Johannesburg Van Schalkwyk has been concerned with the idea of the exotic and the symbolism of forests and islands. Exploring beyond the surface of these places, the artist challenges our idea of ‘Utopia’ or ‘Paradise’ and questions the western notion that paradise is found in the beauty of exotic landscapes and / or ‘the other’. In Nemora, the monochromatic panels in their cinematic format depict a winter landscape of dead trees in the higher Mt. Brocken Forest of the Harz, Germany where acid rain in the form of snow and fog caused trees to perish in the 1980’s as a result of excessive industrial activities in the area.

Reminiscent of Romantic landscape painting, Van Schalkwyk’s works use metaphor and symbolism to ascribe moral significance to the growth and decomposition of natural objects. Nemora could be read as a direct reference to Caspar David Friedrich’s The Abbey in the Oakwood (1809 – 10). Van Schalkwyk pays homage to the iconography of this master of landscape painting while simultaneously transcending the ideals of Romanticism. The resulting contemporary vistas speak of man’s abuse of the natural world and the threat of climate change. Where romanticism celebrated the idea of nature as both refuge and dream, Van Schalkwyk reveals that this very nature is being neglected and abused – it is no longer a haven or a ‘Garden of Eden’.


WORK

INSTALLATION IMAGES

2017 Arium

2017 Arium


Barnard Gallery, CAPE TOWN

Jaco van Schalkwyk’s ever-evolving exploration of the photorealist technique may be seen to indicate a preoccupation with illusionism – a constant attempt to seamlessly capture reality in paint, to achieve perfection in surface, to master the representation of space and light. But this painterly hyperrealism points to an investigation which functions beyond illusionism, one fascinated with and attuned to the processes of representation itself. In –arium, van Schalkwyk’s fourth solo exhibition with Barnard Gallery, this consideration of the modes and constructions of representation finds its most complex and multi-faceted expression yet. Through the use of various media – painting, sculpture, installation, assemblage and film – van Schalkwyk considers questions of representation both in the artistic endeavour and in the everyday ways we construct and mediate realities around ourselves, our environment and our encounters with the Other.

Central to –arium is van Schalkwyk’s contemporary play on the concept of the cabinet of curiosities. The cabinet of curiosities or Wunderkammer as it emerged in Renaissance Europe, a predecessor of our modern practices of collecting and cataloguing, aimed to create a microcosm of the world in its presentation of a vast array of collected objects and specimens from foreign cultures and locales. In – arium, van Schalkwyk seeks to recreate and restage this practice – and the questions of voyeurism, power, fetishization and objectification implied within it – through the lens of our contemporary modes of engagement with the other and the exotic. Here, van Schalkwyk’s positions the ubiquitous smart phone as a modern day, digital cabinet of curiosities. Paying specific mind to the role smart phones have come to play in tourism and encounters with the “exotic”, the artist explores the way these devices function as personal archives and representational tools, in the way they allow us to codify, collect and categorize experience. The glass screen of the smart phone recalls the paradoxical allure of museum cases and vitrines, simultaneously revealing and preserving the captured experience while rendering it inaccessible.


WORK

WRITTEN TEXTS

VIDEOS

Installation images

2016 Arcadia

2016 Arcadia


Barnard Gallery, 2016 Joburg Art Fair

In Arcadia, Jaco van Schalkwyk extends the exploration of the troubled and paradoxical relationship between man and nature begun in his 2015 solo show Eden – witnessing and calling attention to the inherent dichotomies on which our understandings of the natural world are predicated. These are dichotomies of reverence and destruction, indulgence and neglect, connection and alienation. While Eden drew on imagery from the island of Sylt, Germany; Arcadia references van Schalkwyk’s recent stay in Bali, Indonesia, where ancient traditions and connections to the natural world are contrasted with crises of pollution and environmental destruction. These popular tourist destinations, held up as pinnacles of the exotic, of paradise, and escapism – modern arcadias to which we escape to and idealise – are presented as desolate, uninhabited spaces that are simultaneously unsettling and verdantly beautiful.

Referencing the Latin phrase Et in Arcadia Ego – “Even in Arcadia, there I am”, with “I” here referring to death – the seven panels that make up Arcadia align themselves with Memento Mori and Vanitas traditions by serving to confront us with our own mortality and our own capacities for destruction. Drawn deep into the thicket, closed in by branches and surrounded by smoke, the romanticized island paradise becomes threatening, overwhelming, and alien. It is in these stark contrasts – the beautiful and the horrific, the hopeful and the desolate – visually reiterated in striking monochrome, that van Schalkwyk triumphs. Endlessly intriguing and affecting, the artist has succeeded in a contemporary reconfiguration of the sublime, in which our impulse to romanticize the landscape is consistently undercut with a distinct unease about the long lasting effects that this objectification and separation of self and nature can cause.


WORK

WRITTEN TEXTS

INSTALLATION IMAGES

2015 Eden

2015 Eden


Barnard Gallery, CAPE TOWN

In Search of an lnner Eden

Les vrais paradis sont les paradis qu’on a perdus. (Marcel Proust)

To set foot on an Island is perilous. All expectations and preconceptions must withstand the brutal test of real experience.

Islands are distant places; an effort must be made to reach them. Their remoteness evokes the idea of travel, of passage; “a system of openings and closings” that makes an island isolated and yet penetrable at the same time.

It would appear that an Island – perhaps because of its very insularity and far-away-ness – is preordained to be a projection surface for literary content, and has been just this more or less continuously from early mythology right up to the utopian, exotic and adventure literature of modern times. Linked to the paradigms of the travel tales of Antiquity and the Kelts, to idyllic places of longing, to the idea of the utopian state and to Robinsonade, the island space represents neutral testing ground for idealistic concept and poetical fantasy.

Ulysses’ islands are a series of disappointments as his projections are shattered one after the other. Although he finds his home in the end, his journey is the epitome of futility and human disenchantment.

READ FULL INDRA WUSSOW TEXT BELOW


WORK

WRITTEN TEXTS

INSTALLATION IMAGES

2013 – I, John, am the one who heard and saw these things…

2013 – I, John, am the one who heard and saw these things…


Barnard Gallery, Cape Town

“Jaco van Schalkwyk’s artworks are subtle and complex visual chronicles. We do not perceive his artworks instantaneously. Van Schalkwyk’s works should be pondered for their true significance to reveal and manifest the deeper meaning of the works. Jaco van Schalkwyk is not a visual one-liner… ever.

Van Schalkwyk’s previous solo exhibition “Just a Matter of Time” explored the documentary and archival characteristics of visual art. The pictorial plot of the exhibition centred on Van Schalkwyk’s exploration of his childhood religious community. The intimate and subjective simplicity with which the artist approached his subject created works of remarkable pathos and fragility. “Just a Matter of Time” bridged the divide of heritage and modernity, in an attempt to define the significance of individuality within the dictums of an insolar community.

With Van Schalkwyk’s latest exhibition “I, John, am the one who heard and saw these things…” which opens on the 24th of October 2013 at the Barnard Gallery, the artist again revisits spiritual and religious ideology, but with this exhibition the artist explores the intertwined nature of faith and art. Van Schalkwyk recontextualizes the perpetation of ritual and allegory to create social cohesion and moral clarity. Van Schalkwyk depicts imagined visual narratives and biographies to explore the synthesis of flesh and faith.

The fluctuations of social codes and norms are depicted as fragmented narratives and visual allegories representative of pivotal moments (punctum temporis) in individual lives. The individuals depicted within these visual allegories, express the artist’s notion of character. Character, as referring to qualities, not belonging to specific individuals, but to all human beings. The allegorical dynamic offers the artist a vehicle to deal with the antithetical relation of nature and culture. Allegory is the nemesis of straight forward communication because it reveals and conceals its meaning simultaneously and avoids direct explanations. Van Schalkwyk’s use of narrative allegory as a genre is characterised by intertextuality. Narrative is built in relation to preceding visual imagery and iconographic and subjective symbolism. The majority of artworks in the “I, John, am the one who heard and saw these things…” exhibition, references imagery from historical artworks or religious text. These act as pretext to most of the narrative allegories. Thus Van Schalkwyk’s works encode information from the greater history of art. The Baroque, Romanticism, 17th century Protestant allegories, and the material manifestations of spiritual magnificence through religious reliquaries, are all alluded to by van Schalkwyk. Van Schalkwyk abandons minimalist restraint to create eclectic visual rituals that acts as an abridgement of the artists ideas regarding contemporary virtues. Van Schalkwyk’s works represent pictures as eroded moral puzzles.

What does the beautiful image leave behind Van Schalkwyk’s works both echo and question the expressive ornamentation and violent intensity of our age. We find ourselves in an era of hypertheatralisation. The mundane are elevated to dubious significance and relevance. The empty gorgeousness of commerce through image and advertising, personified by “reality” television and voracious consumerism, is an anathema to the artist. For Van Schalkwyk, beauty stands in intimate relation to the ugly. He is both the creator and questioner of beauty. Van Schalkwyk does not moralize, but rather subverts through pictorial parody and intertextuality. The paintings create their own contextual narrative independently of set interpretation which is characteristic of the fragmented and inconclusive nature of contemporary art. One may say van Schalkwyk’s artworks reveal the sublime damnation and redemption of the beautiful within contemporary art – within contemporary society. Life, art, faith and beauty intertwine to the point of being indiscernible. In a world devoted to the surface of the surface, van Schalkwyk urges you to close your eyes and open your mind.”

Sandra Hanekom


Work

Installation images

2012 Just a matter of time

2012 Just a matter of time


Barnard Gallery, Cape Town

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.


WORK

Installation