Monday, October 22, 2012

Extraordinary Things: Wim Botha @Stevenson

A Thousand Things is the kind of work you step into. This isn’t an ordinary installation; it’s highly immersive. It is contained within the large room at the back of the Stevenson gallery but it is the black skirting, supported by a raw pine structure framing the installation, that signals you have crossed over a boundary and into a different territory.

The boundary appears familiar, as do the objects that are placed within this room-within-a-room, but it’s an ambiguous space, colonised by signs that hint at a variety of  real and abstract settings. The black skirting appears like a picture frame, engendering the notion that you have entered a painting. There are other signature elements associated with painting – the wooden easel stands that prop up most of the sculptures, the drips of white paint on them and, of course, the historical motifs of Baroque painting; a tortured human frame splayed open, a skull and the disembodied wings of an angel.

The sculptures are all unfinished; the treated pine they are made of is exposed, with only a few dabs of white paint hinting at the first layer of priming that might take place.This creates the impression that you are roaming through a studio of a prolific artist who darts between works, unable to complete anything. In this way the installation and the studio become a fused entity. The line dividing process and end-product has collapsed, but so too has the one between the art and the gallery.