This is an exhibition statement I wrote for a group show in Cape Town (2019) with Mine Kleynhans, Kosie Thiart, Adele Opperman and Sandy Little.
-So foolish, unreasonable, or out of place as to be amusing.
Both terms are used to indicate absurdity; the subtle difference is that ludicrous means amusingly so, and ridiculous means inviting ridicule or mockery.
The world is a strange place – things seldom make sense and finding your way through life is perplexing, bemusing and often ludicrous. Many utopian ideals exist that proclaim a true answer to the complexities of existence and it is often very tempting to give in and whole heartedly follow some ideology or homogenous system of thought. Unfortunately these paths to a final answer are often doomed to face disillusionment.
Art is definitely not immune from the temptations of ideology, but when approached with a degree of scepticism it can be an effective way to explore the confusion of life in a more nuanced way than other modes of thought: Art being itself a slightly ludicrous activity (both the creation and consumption thereof) is therefore uniquely qualified to give some solace in the face of life’s vicissitudes and confusion. The exhibition you are about to walk through is a collection of thoughts and explorations contained within the (ludicrous) emporium of the Art-World.
This brings us to Emporium: The term has had a few meanings throughout history: In modern times an Emporium refers to a large scale store, especially a massive retail outlet selling a wide variety of goods. In a sense this is exactly what the modern Art Economy has become – a sprawling global emporium selling an alternative style of life.
In a more archaic sense an emporium refers to a trading post or market of Classical antiquity. Exotic and wondrous items like linen, bitumen, naphtha, frankincense, myrrh and carved stone amulets from Palestine, Canaan and Lebanon were traded and exported in these emporia. Galleries are also marketplaces and purveyors of the exotic: Artworks are strange objects excavated from the mindscapes of diverse individuals. It can therefore be said that the Art-World is a hybrid of the modern day and Ancient Greek emporium: A combination of the banal and transcendent, quotidian and exotic.
There is an element of the absurd, fantastic and slightly ludicrous in all the works that form part of this show. From the tension of mystical and the mundane found in Mine Kleynhans’s sculptural constructions, the naïve escapism and convoluted psychology of David Griessel’s folk art inspired drawings, Sandy Little’s explorations of the complexities of human interactions, Adele Opperman’s multi layered drawings interrogating identity and belonging and Kosie Thiart’s forays into the sublimity of decay. The connecting thread between our works is intuitive and not always logical: We hope that this Emporium of the ludicrous and sublime will surprise, delight or even alter the way you perceive the world. We don’t offer any clear cut propositions and answers, we rather invite the viewer to form their own interpretations of these divergent works and the prism of meanings they collectively create.