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PROMISED LAND (article first published : 2005-04-18)

The NSA Gallery’s Main and Mezzanine Gallery will host an exhibition of new work by Johannesburg based artist, Bonita Alice.

Promised Land is a collection of new work by well-known Johannesburg-based artist, Bonita Alice. Alice has exhibited in numerous group shows and had her first solo exhibition at the Goodman Galleries in Johannesburg in 1991. In 2002 she participated in the 25th Sao Paulo Bienale in Brazil. Promised Land is her fourth solo exhibition and it is travelling to Durban after a successful showing at the Gallery Premises in Johannesburg in February this year.

“The work describes our heightened need for a personal heaven - known or unknown - as a means to hold safe, that which may otherwise be light enough to float away - life and memory,” says the publicity material. “In a series of mostly sculptural works, ash, wool dust, velvet and antique furniture combine eccentrically in often prosaic and familiar configurations. Dust is reconstituted in drawings and ash enclosed and contained in paper and velvet. A silhouetted tree-scape falling across a line of nostalgic washboards blocks (or fulfils) the vision that lives on for us no matter how persistently our need to see it is frustrated. The forms and surfaces are lush and mysterious. They are white rather than black, and insist that death is a well- deserved end to the efforts of life - even proposing the necessity for an award. It denies us our own stubborn denial of transience.

“The work feels like a consolidation of this artist’s earlier tendencies to re-engage traditional processes - esp. wood-carving and oil painting - but here it is untethered and oxygenated. As a result, the viewing of the new work is likely to feel more easily rewarding and probably surprisingly entertaining. Without relinquishing the characteristic restraint of previous works, Alice explores the possibilities of scale; vertically, in a neck-craning tower of plush and teetering 3m stack of chairs, and, horizontally, in a 9 metre strip of painted canvas.”

The exhibition runs from April 19 until May 8, 2005. More information from NSA curator Storm Janse van Rensburg on 031 202 3686, fax 031 201 8051, or e-mail: curator@nsagallery.co.za




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