Kate Gottgens is an artist who knows and exploits the potential of contemporary painting to its finest, most delicate streak. Ever since her debut solo exhibition – Modern Wonders at Everard Read Contemporary in 1993 – the artist has cast a cold eye on the South African dream of the perfect family and the perfect home. Happy snaps, steeped in the optimism of affluent suburbia, are transformed into edgy, painterly evocations of the ennui and malaise beneath the surface of everyday life. Her images, according to Ashraf Jamal, become markers of “an anaemic truth, a world, or worlds, intergenerational, ground down by the fury of living.”
Artwork: Untitled 1, 2018, Oil on Canvas, 95 x 95cm
In the foreword to Gottgens’ second publication: Kate Gottgens // Paintings 2015 – 2017, released in conjunction with Tired from Smiling, her most recent solo exhibition at SMAC Gallery in Cape Town, Sean O’Toole describes the artist as “a kind of flâneur” – traipsing the southern suburbs of Cape Town in search of imagery. This activity later led to the comfort of Google Street View, whose panoramic ready-mades could be captured through a screen shot as reference material, along with online found images that translated into the interiors and characters that populated these scenes. According to Gottgens, “All found photographs have a history that one can only guess at and try to interpret, and the less one knows the more room there is for manipulation and imagination.” Suburban malaise with its domestic routines, social stasis, and an impending sense of dread are some of the themes that permeate Gottgens’ twenty-five-year long practice. So too is irony, humour, and a luminous sense of the marvellous.
Artwork: Untitled 2, 2018, Oil on Canvas, 95 x 95cm
As Melvyn Minnaar says of her recent body of work, “Kate Gottgens makes paintings. She finds her themes everywhere… and understands that this is a medium that engages with viewers differently, that it represents and narrates in other ways. Her representations suggest incomplete tales, stories,” Minnaar continues, “These are paintings that set all kinds of paradoxical challenges to viewers, all the while gripping them, enticing their verdict and conclusion.”
Born in Durban in 1965 and currently living and working in Cape Town, Gottgens will present an exhibition of new paintings at the Hermanus FynArts festival. In addition, her work is included in SMAC Gallery’s presentation at artmonte-carlo in Monte Carlo, Monaco, from 28 – 29 April 2018.
The exhibition will be housed in the new FynArts Gallery, The Courtyard, Harbour Road, Hermanus. Curated by Marilyn Martin, the exhibition opens to the public on Saturday, 9 June at 14h00. www.hermanusfynarts.co.za