Enjoy the trip: Amy has pulled off a tricky balancing act

26 January 2016 - 02:12 By Mary Corrigall


The artworks showing as part of the Sketch exhibition at the Smith Studio gallery in Cape Town look surprisingly polished given that they're supposed to be ''unfinished". This might be because most are framed - aside from Rosie Mudge's etchings and Danielle Paul's playful line of colour blocks evoking different moods in different locations.The only artworks that come close to parading superficially tentative lines are Io Makandal's drawings presenting layers of diverse coloured lines seemingly obeying a centrifugal force.But even in the world of hand-drawn abstract art, her series could be passed off as a finished work.As the title of the show might suggest, the works are preparations for other future works.The brave premise for this exhibition was set by curator/gallerist Amy Ellenbogen. It made sense given the Smith Studio gallery supports young artists at the nascence of their careers.She wanted to create a platform from which artists would have the space to experiment and take steps towards making new works, encouraging a process-based practice. She encourages a form of art-making and curating with less emphasis on the end product - a less results-driven approach (though the outcome remains that the artworks need to sell).It's that old tricky balancing act; weighing artistic freedom against commercial imperatives. Ellenbogen has either found a productive loophole, where every part of the art-making process can be displayed and admired and true experimentation can flourish despite commercialisation, or this simply signals another way of commodifying art that could further anaesthetise creativity.Matty Roodt's maquettes for sculptures are made from found concrete with brass ''branches" mirroring trees.Dale Lawrence's study for a ceramic sculpture could be made, but as the drawing functions as an artwork in its own right you have to wonder when "art" becomes "art".The exhibition presents different forms of incompleteness. Antonia Brown's installation of photographs are the first manifestation of her interest in dowsing. Brown sees parallels between photography and dowsing - both activities rely on a device to reveal hidden phenomena.Some artists, such as Jeanne Gaigher, have found their ''voice" and have settled into a unique mode or language - she's enjoyed a degree of success by painting over photographs she has taken. It's via this process that she identifies the unconscious impulses that compel her to take photographs. For Sketch she was encouraged by Ellenbogen to employ this mode with found objects - a cheap kitsch carpet she found in a second-hand shop in an industrial area.Sketch shows at Smith Studio gallery, Cape Town, until February 13

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