This solo exhibition by Bonita Alice shows work developed since 1996, in three different media. Most of the works have never before been exhibited, and those that have, have never been seen as they were initially intended – as part of this body of work which grew simultaneously over 5 and a half years. Giving and Not Giving was born out of the artist's suspicion that where we are might have some bearing on who we are...That there is an essential connection between personal identity and place.
However, our material relationship to place is so impermanent and historically so arbitrary that it is doubtful whether there is such a link, or rather, that it is so essential to who we are. Historically, the paths of human migration are arbitrary and determined less by the heart than by considerations of survival. If one looks back far enough in any family’s history, one encounters connections to cultures and places now unfamiliar and even forgotten. Yet, ideas of nationhood and motherland suggest that there is somehow a complete identity that can be derived solely from place.
An idea that now seems central to these questions is the essentially temporary nature of our relationship to place.
Examining her own life and history as a third-generation South African has been useful in bringing this into sharper focus. ...While I consider myself to be thoroughly South African, my own family - like those of many white South Africans - have been associated with this country for a relatively short period. Previously they lived a different reality in an entirely different geographical and cultural context, which, after 3 or 4 generations, has been relegated to history if not entirely forgotten.
In a search to find a form for these ideas in my work, the artist has revisited some of the most traditional approaches to art-making - oil painting and wood carving. She has also become involved in the making and research of site-specific artworks. These works are illusionistic, site specific grass paintings whose sites are chosen for their resonance with the content.
Three-D-Signs, a Cape Town company, employs, in the commercial context, a technique where the logo of a sponsor of a televised sports event is painted directly onto the pitch. I have worked with Three-D-Signs, applying this technique in my own work - its first application in the visual arts.
Documentation of these works will be shown as part of the August exhibition. A new site-specific work, provisionally entitled Vanities, is planned for some time in the coming year.