SACRED & PROFANE
WITH DIRK BAHMANN, RONÉL DE JAGER, STEPHAN ERASMUS, MANDY JOHNSTON, WAYNE MATHEWS & NEIL NIEUWOUDT
LIZAMORE & ASSOCIATES GALLERY, JHB
2 – 28 AUGUST, 2017
IMAGE: Ronél de Jager
The human condition is one of duality - without light, we cannot know darkness, without suffering we cannot know freedom and without the profane we cannot know the sacred. A genuine sense of the numinous is not possible without the many other things, the artist who creates the sacred must therefore produce something “dialectical: a full void, an enriching emptiness.”
“In 1600 at the age of twenty-five the shoemaker Jakob B.hme was ‘seized by the divine light (…) and at the sudden sight of a pewter vessel (…) which led to the inner-most ground or centre of secret nature’. By Bohme’s own account, he had broken through the portals of Hell for the duration of a quarter of an hour. ‘I recognised the whole of Being in Evil and Good, the way one originates in the other (…). I saw through as into a chaos with everything in it, but I could not undo it.’ He recognised ‘that all things consist of Yes and No’, and these ‘are no two things side by side, but only one thing (…). Were it not for these two, which are in constant conflict, all things would be Nothing, and would stand still and motionless.’” -Alexander Roob
The works on show explore a range of processes that draw on ideas and interpretations of the Sacred and the Profane. It stems from the need of every era to reinvent “spirituality” for itself. Art has the potential to lead us to a place of vision that unites the material and ethereal worlds (Hart 2005:3). Human experience has the possibility to be ordered by the sacred and to create fundamental meaning in the world.
This duality causes humanity to become aware of the sacred because it manifests itself as something wholly different from the profane (Eliade 1959:11). This awareness becomes a reality that does not belong to our world, in objects that are an integral part of our natural “profane” world (Eliade 1959:11). Humanity of every culture and era has exerted great efforts to presence and to glimpse the numinous through ritual, art and monumental architecture.
The exhibition, 'Sacred and Profane' brings together a group of artists seeking the impossible, confronting dualities and investigating the intertextual nature of adding meaning to what is already known. In this sense, authenticity cannot be handed down, new maps of consciousness need to be drawn along with an exploration of new visions that challenge the structural contradictions inherent in the human condition in an attempt at a truthful transcendence.
With this inherent interplay, something of the religious conception of the world persists in the behaviour of profane man, although he is not always conscious of this fixed heritage (Eliade 1959:49). The artists therefore seek, “— something to satisfy our “craving for the cloud of unknowing beyond knowledge and for the silence beyond speech.”
Binaries of unity and individuality and ways of being are delved into as the artists encounter the highest question because its answer is no answer. Meaning must be continuously re-found and reformed for it to be alive. The human condition is one of duality - without light, we cannot know darkness, without suffering we cannot know freedom and without the profane we cannot know the sacred. A genuine sense of the numinous is not possible without the many other things, the artist who creates the sacred must therefore produce something “dialectical: a full void, an enriching emptiness.”
Authorship of the works has been intentionally blurred. Artists have collaborated extensively to produce the body of work. For a singular voice is the voice mute of authority. There is a search for the complex, the layered, …the impossible dream of the sacred…. and the profane.
VIRUS (SELECTED WORKS)
The orb shapes which unify the works point to the physical manifestation of a petri dish, a scientific tool to culture cells and study their habits, De Jager searches within the seemingly known yet profanely unknown outcomes.
This exploratory process consists of a scientific approach in which De Jager investigates the interaction between paint and canvas, dye and fabric and metals to a chemical electromagnetic process.
These reactive processes occurred in De Jager’s studio/cum laboratory where she studies the weight of paints, its viscosity and how this relates to its gravitational pull and therefore its behaviour once placed on the surface of the canvas.
In this way De Jager asks us to question who is controlling the behaviour of the medium and the outcome of the artwork, is it in its own innate structure or is this the work of the artist as she manipulates the medium?