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CHANGING LANDSCAPES (article first published : 2005-11-20)

An exhibition by Robert Domijan titled Changing Landscapes runs at Elizabeth Gordon Gallery from November 23. It features oils on canvas – all framed in hand-gilded frames - depicting scenes of different South African landscapes, cityscapes and landmarks. Robert is formerly from Johannesburg but, since marrying Durban artist Coral Spencer, now lives in Durban.

Robert Domijan clearly understands the language of paint and its subtleties and uses this knowledge to evoke emotion, from a quite desolate street or vast landscape to a heavy brooding sky.

“With roads that run past railway crossings – cutting straight across the corner of the painting, the absence of a train, the supposed absence of a point of reference, or destination – we may not see people but we are all too aware of the mark of man on his landscapes,” says Coral Spencer of her husband’s work. “With faded road signs and road traffic markings we navigate our way through his travels to places we’ve been before, physically and mentally.

“Sometimes it’s what he has left out of a painting that allows the viewer to interpret more than that which seems present,” Coral Spencer adds. “The changing imagery seems open to any interpretation and terms such as ‘feeling’ and ‘introspectiveness’ come to mind. Because the paintings seemingly depict reality, they remain literally open and multifaceted. A shadow of a tree – without the tree being present, a house alone in a desolate landscape, a closed church, the presence of telephone lines on a Karoo road – the imagery should not be considered without the audience, whose views add to the message to be interpreted, in this case the changes in the political landscape that have taken place in South Africa.

“At other times Domijan’s rural ‘plattelandse dorpe’ offer little comfort, with shops closed, the town emptying itself into the gaping mouth of their centralised church on a Sunday, draining the life from the streets. He will often represent the obscure vantage point, evoking thought - and often memory - and familiarity, as we ourselves recall looking back through the rear window and watching as the town drops away into a valley or as it slips behind a hill. We will recall towns we have driven through, the only main street, which would have been lost to us in a blink against the turning wheels of the car as it travels through. Old towns and places frozen in time, the way in which people have vacated their homes for the ‘Big City’ – this new journey would be remembered – the landscape is used as a metaphor for the process of remembering or for that matter forgetting South Africa’s past.”

The exhibition opens at 18h00 on November 23 at 18h00 – all are welcome - and runs until December 3. Elizabeth Gordon Gallery is at 120 Florida Road. More information on Coral Spencer.




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