A collection of his sculptural work titled Why Should I Hesitate? Sculpture will be on exhibition at the Norval Foundation from 24 August 2019, while a collection of his drawings – Why Should I Hesitate? Putting Drawings To Work – will be on show at the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa (Zeitz MOCAA).
Recently, the artist took the time to respond to questions – from Norval Foundation curator Karel Nel and Zeitz MOCAA Curator Azu Nwagbogu – on the inspiration for his works.
Who would you say are the artists who have most profoundly influenced your sculptural output?
It’s difficult to say who’s influenced me. There are artists I’ve looked at whose work I’ve looked at a huge amount. Of course, Picasso’s sculptures are central to this, particularly his first painted glasses of absinthe which are a wonderful mixture of sculpture, painting and assemblage.
The later sculptures of Cy Twombly stay as a very strong thought in my head. Alexander Calder becomes increasingly important as a way of thinking about movement and sculpture.
And no one can think about sculpture without thinking about Alberto Giacometti in the 20th century. But the central sculpture I suppose that sits in my head as one of the great works of the last 100 years is Picasso’s sculpture of the nanny goat made out of the assemblage of pots and baskets found in the rubbish heap next to his studio.
Your work seems both political and philosophical. How have these two disciplines shaped your vision as an artist, and as a sculptor?
As an artist, I think one always works in two directions or three directions, the third one being the pressure cooker of the studio in which the first two elements come together. So the one is the world coming towards you.
These are both personal events, political events, social events, everything that happens around you in the world – which is invited into the studio, some of which are political, some which are philosophical. The nature of certainty and uncertainty, marginal thinking, peripheral thinking to go with peripheral vision.
In other words, which objects can you only see when you become monocular or when you close one eye. This, of course, relates to the single-eyed vision of baroque theatre designs and single-point perspective – which are both questions of philosophical understandings of the world and ways of representing it.
Why is drawing still central to your practice as an artist and further to that, what role does new media play in your working practice as an artist? As a corollary, what does materiality mean to you as an artist and how is this represented in this exhibition?
Drawing is the starting point for the project. It’s a way of thinking in the material. In my case, very often charcoal which has the flexibility of being erased as quickly and easily as you can change your mind and have a new thought.
So it’s a way of thinking aloud. I rely on the process of drawing to generate thoughts – which may end up as charcoal drawings or may end up as sculptures or tapestries or films or pieces of theatre.
All things can come in to the studio – which includes both the world of news reporting and fact in that sense, archival material, photographic records of events but also dreams, thoughts, novels, poems – all have an equal status in the studio in terms of being raw material for a new drawing or film.
Which has always an intermediate and indeterminate status of being between fact and fiction and has the facticity of the artwork.
Can you tell us about the importance of the Centre for the Less Good Idea and its role in your practice and this is represented in this major exhibition?
The Centre For The Less Good Idea is playing an important part in the cultural life of Johannesburg and is an alternative to the larger more established institutions that are there.
But it is not part of the exhibition Why Should I hesitate. It would need a separate exhibition.
It would need a space primarily of performance rather than of exhibition. So whereas there are public showings outside of the centre itself, of the work that it does, that’s a new project to undertake.