Lizamore gears towards the end of the year with exhibitions by Frank van Reenen, Chrisel van der Merwe and Mpho Machate

In November, Lizamore & Associates present their year-end exhibitions; Holy Crap by Frank van Reenen, Substratum by Chrisel van der Merwe and a showcase of works by Mpho Machate. These exhibitions open on 15 November at 18:00 and will feature an opening performance by Act One.

Holy Crap by Frank van Reenen

“Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former.”

- Albert Einstein

It is almost 2020 and half the world's population still live under threat of starvation. The rainforests are being mowed down, ecosystems ravaged, and coral reefs are dying across the planet. The earth is getting hotter and everyday day brings a new list of those plants and animals lost forever to the ravages of man-made extinctions. Out in the oceans, millions of tons of our plastic detritus are clumping together into vast drifting islands of toxic rubbish.

Meanwhile, the unholy twins of organised religion and politics grip ever tighter on the minds of children and adults alike, and the screaming vanguard of the anti-science movement – the creationists, anti-vaxxers, flat-earthers, and climate change deniers – clamour ever louder for their claim to ultimate truth. When schoolyard bullies pose as world leaders, holding the world to ransom with weapons capable of destroying all life on earth on a whim, then what hope does reason and sense have any more? In a world gone mad, “Holy Crap” seems the only sane response. And the only one worth mustering.

I began drawing at a very young age as a way to escape the reality of my existence. I grew up in an environment hostile to the very idea of freedom of speech or universal human rights. We were controlled by an authoritarian state, whose total power was reinforced by the henchmen of school and church. Failure to comply and conform was met with the very real threat of social and economic isolation and the promise of eternal damnation, both here and in the hereafter.

By carefully crafting my own little private universe, I found that I had not only created a mental and psychological escape for myself and a new way to see and understand the world but that I also had the ability to do this for others. Lashed to the yoke of a despairing, relentless reality, humour lubricates the passage of one day into the next and makes things just a little more bearable.

“Holy Crap” is the only mantra that brings me any solace. It's really all we can say.

Frank van Reenen, 2018

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Substratum by Chrisel van der Merwe


a) An underlying layer or substance, in particular, a layer of rock or soil beneath the surface of the ground

b) A foundation or basis of something, an underlying truth

Substratum implies that the viewer might learn about the underlying truth of something, a truth that the artist observes in her milieu and daily life, which manifests itself in the artist’s work. Through diverse media such as painting, printmaking, bronze and even construction materials, van der Merwe presents a world of surfaces constructed in her controlled-accidental environments.

In van der Merwe’s work, there are initial intentions, but there is an overlapping of an uncontrolled process. These processes ricochet off one another within her different mediums where a shared language emerges from the collection of her work. The translation from textures in her paintings to the forms in her sculptures and shapes in her prints all contribute to this collective understanding. The mark-making within them is what joins them.

The paintings are evidence of van der Merwe’s rationale that paint can reveal something to you if you allow it. They are simultaneously reminiscent of galaxies, microorganisms, topographical imagery and similar shapes the artist notices in her everyday existence. Van der Merwe’s use of contour lining and the extended sculptural aspects of her canvasses make the exhibition about the landscape, while also defying this by being inspired by surface texture and not by the conventional scenery.

Surface and what lies beneath becomes the main focus of the show. Through Substratum, van der Merwe presents a body of work that shows what underlies her truth; the desire to look closer, to uncover what truly is and to challenge perception. Her continuous interest in the unnoticed, the fleeting, the overlooked or the invisible under-layer, and what is unearthed when one looks beneath the surface are echoed in Substratum.

Showcase of works by Mpho Machate

Through his abstract artworks, Mpho Machate attempts to symbolise the journey that one chooses in life by representing texture as a topographical projection of the self: this process visually ‘maps’ the measure of self-discovery. The artist begins his process through a series of walks with observations of interesting textures he encounters. To the artist, these walks become a journey towards self-consciousness and the awareness of  his thoughts; it portrays the perception of individual truth and reality.

These exhibitions open on 15 November 2018 at 18:00 and will run until 26 January 2019 at Lizamore & Associates Gallery. Kindly note that the gallery will be closed for the festive season from 15 December 2018 to 12 January 2019.