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NB: as of 23 September 2008, all new artSMart articles are being published on the site news.artsmart.co.za.

HISTORY (article first published : 2005-09-23)

The KZNSA Gallery is to present History, an exhibition of new works by renowned Durban artist Andrew Verster in the Mezzanine and Park Galleries.

The exhibition consists of ink drawings on paper and is a showcase of the virtuoso drawing skills of the artist. Andrew Verster needs little introduction and is known not only for his achievements in the visual arts but also in the related fields of fashion and theatre design.

The exhibition is a natural progression from work he has done for the stage in recent years. The design inspiration for large-scale productions such as Princess Magogo and other operas are all jotted down, starting as pen drawings on paper. It is these drawings that rekindled his interest in the medium and the works on exhibition also reference these sets.

Andrew Verster treats the surfaces of the sheets of paper like a stage, in some cases building up areas to create a three-dimensional relief effect. His drawings are crammed with symbols that can read as allegories, fact and fiction, truth and invention. He presents a palimpsest of images, histories and meanings, and makes worlds and images collide that wouldn’t necessarily associate with each other

“I can still remember the exact moment when the thought came to me that I knew at last what the word composition meant,” he says. “This Damascus moment happened in a bridge under the Southern Freeway as I was heading from Merebank back to Durban. It is finding the link between things which apparently have no connection. It was another reason, I thought, why artists should not die young. I’d been trying-on countless definitions for fifty years and more. Some fitted better than others. None fitted perfectly. Inspiration is the poetry of simplicity – complex thoughts trapped in a few words. And at last I had found my Holy Grail.

“The scales had fallen from my eyes and all the way back I kept testing the idea on the random images which flashed past. That Cortina and that railway shed? What could possibly connect them? What was the link? What did that billboard for Hi-Fi Corporation and that pre-cast concrete barrier have in common? The mid-morning sky and Howard College Tower? Some could be linked by colour, some by shape, or texture, or context, or association, or age, or function, or size, or a thousand other facts, some obvious, others abstruse.

“And the more I thought about it, the more I realized that the more unlikely the combinations and the most disparate the elements, the more potent the brew.

“Who know what secrets lurk in our DNA?” he adds. “My own history is entangled with everyone else’s I know. And everyone I don’t. Everyone I see or talk to. Have seen or talked to. History as memory. History as experience. I am the sum total of everything I have done or seen or experienced or dreamed. We remember imperfectly. We varnish facts. We edit and forget. We live several lives at once. Every moment experiences are overlaid. Past and present rub shoulders.

History opens on September 27 at 18h00 and runs until October 16.




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