Review: 06 at Bell Roberts; Phillip Gasser & Bruno Tremblay at blank projects; the Michaelis Grad Show
Sunday, December 10, 2006
So this week was fun. Three openings on one day, these galleries really know how to spread them out. And after missing everything on that Cape Africa Art Night thing a way back because I had dinner first, I set out early this time. Michaelis openings always have that great Camembert, dinner could wait.
Bell-Roberts was first up, with their year-end show of their artists. I hate reviewing group shows because this reads like a list, but bear with me... it might still be fun. It was the usual fare there: pretty, safe stuff, with some really interesting bits. For some reason I’ve never seen anything by Theresa-Anne Mackintosh before, maybe because she’s Durban-based. Or is she in advertising part-time? Not sure, but either way I quite enjoyed her sculptures. They had a superflat thing going for them: slick, shiny surfaces and comic characters. Often this approach can come across as contrived, but they were done with a confidence that I found appealing. I’d be curious to see a solo show. The other sculptor on the show Cameron Platter was installed in the first room. I’m personally a big fan, but it’s not his strongest work. Still, I wish I was in Miami now. He recently got caned in Art South Africa, so I’ll leave him be here. You can read that fine publication for a review. Alternatively you can save your R90 and buy yourself a nice chicken-fried steak dinner. Nigel Mullins can’t work out if he’s charming or lazy, but pastel colours make me sick, and making paintings from the dregs of your palette doubly so. It just shouldn’t be allowed. Ditto Sanell Aggenbach. I liked the Johannes Phokela, though I’m not too sure how he fits in with the show. I didn’t think he was a Bell-Roberts artist. I wasn’t so hot on the fake slit canvasses, referencing that modernist artist Whatshisname. It’s a dated concept. But the bronze skulls with red noses hammered into them got me pretty excited. I’d like to give one to my mother for Christmas.
The Swiss guys at blank were next up. I don’t really understand how anyone can come into a country on a residency, and then make drawings with political content. Why? Why bother? Why drawings? It makes me depressed. I’d rather see work about memory, sexuality and identity by white girls, than work about District Six, poverty and AIDS by Europeans. Pro-Helvetia did do their little bit though… there was free beer and chocolate-coated pretzels.
Josephine has already posted a review of the Grad show, so I won’t go into it except to say: “Well Done Pippa Skotnes. Your level of engagement is awesome.” This because she couldn’t remember James Webb’s surname when she introduced him as the speaker for the opening, and thanked him afterwards as Phillip. The Camembert was all finished by the time I arrived. Should have known. Should have eaten first.
Later I went to the afterparty at l/b’s and showed them how graduates behave.