A solo exhibition of paintings and sculptures by Ben Coutouvidis will be hosted from 28 January to 19 February 2017.
To download (and save) the Ben Coutouvidis - GROUNDS catalogue click here
This exhibition is the result of having access to a beautiful garden and walking a fantastic dog twice a day on Table Mountain. For this I am thankful. The continuous fluid movement through studio, garden and landscape has helped me move away from some of my more linear preconceived methods of working. It has also meant that I have had to change the way I think, look at, and work with the materials that I use. The challenge that has arisen from this is to find where the limits of needing to control the creative/work experience lie.
The event of finishing a painting now is like suddenly having an insight into a matter that has been held in consciousness for a while. The act of painting now is about continuously laying down paint that may or may not become the grounds for a painting to emerge. The painting of the shooting star illustrates this. The canvas had orbited my studio for years accumulating various painted experiences until it had become a little world with its own atmosphere. When I loaded the brush with white paint I was not thinking consciously of a shooting star, but more of being aware of an event that was now about to happen between myself, the paintbrush and canvas.
The painting is the recording of this event, it shows the point of impact and the trajectory of the brush in relation to the canvas. If there is one realistic detail in the painting it is the fact that to make the white mark on the surface took about the same amount of time as shooting stars do when they appear in the sky.
The drawings in this exhibition have been done on the pages of a book “The Moon as Shoe”. The book has prints of drawings that Bushman children did under the guidance of the Bleeks to describe their landscape. I have used this source as if it represents an original underlying landscape onto which so many subsequent layers of experience and history have been laid. One of the drawings is the result of setting up a tripod in the garden. On a piece of string suspended from the tripod I attached a page from “The Moon as Shoe” to act as a sail and underneath this a green pencil crayon whose point touched another page lying flat on the ground. Wind would now blow the suspended page around moving the pencil tip across the surface below.
I then left this drawing machine all night to record one of the first cold fronts of the winter moving through the garden. The drawing appeals to me on various levels, firstly it looks like a beautiful depiction of some algae like plant, secondly it raises the question of authorship and pays homage to Herman de Vries who explored ways of working with nature that tried to liberate himself from the strictures of the artist’s ego.
One of my primary interests is how we internalize landscape. A simple form of this is how the landscape can be brought into the studio to work with. Wood as a material is great in this way. The wooden figurative sculptures provide a locus onto which I can draw and paint landscapes, this creates the basis for the development of narrative and identity. I can then carve back into the figure through the surface landscape- erasing or leaving parts of the surface, the figure that then emerges from this becomes a product of its selective remembering and forgetting of its experience of landscape.
I have made sculptures of two of the boys from the “The Moon as Shoe”- !Nanni and Tamme. I imagine that this exhibition is a representation of their journey to find their way back home
Ben Coutouvidis 2017