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Indepth Arts News:

"Philip Barlow: Things of Light and Mary-Rose Hendrikse: Face Value"
2003-07-21 until 2003-08-08
Association for Visual Arts
Cape Town, , ZA South Africa

The Association For Visual Arts (AVA) in partnership with Hollard, 35 Church Street, Cape Town, presents two solo exhibitions by painters. In the main and upstairs galleries Philip Barlow will exhibit his recent oils, in an exhibition entitled ‘THIS THING OF LIGHT’. Mary-Rose Hendrikse will show her recent portraits in oil in the long gallery in an exhibition entitled ‘FACE VALUE’. Both exhibitions open at 6 pm on Monday, 21 July and close on Friday, 8 August 2003.

PHILIP BARLOW was born in Pietermaritzburg in 1968. He obtained a diploma in graphic fine art from the Technikon of Port Elizabeth in 1990, majoring in printmaking, stained glass and photography. He currently lives and works in Cape Town.

After graduating, he left for Europe in 1991 and there he produced approximately 500 portraits in pastel and charcoal, painted 8 murals and completed around 200 watercolours.

After three years of travel and artistic exploration he returned to South Africa where his focus shifted to murals and ceiling paintings. He was commissioned by Wooltru in 1996 to paint two large murals for their head office. In 1997 the University of Stellenbosch, amongst others, commissioned a painting and a mural. The Villa Via commission in Granger Bay enabled him to explore the harmony of sky, water and landscape. The scale and challenge of the project proved to be a highlight in his artistic career. However, the ultimate project for him was the six 4 by 2 metre panels painted for the His People Centre in Cape Town. This was the most demanding, yet inspiring, commission to date.

Many of the murals produced over those years display a form of precise realism, which he started to explore in other work. In 1999 he began to paint scenes with self-acquired sensitivity to light, form and colour. The imitation of the object or scene was often to the point of hard, photographic illusion. This may be seen in ‘And She Was’ and ‘Daisy No 5’ which display intense illusionistic realism.

In 2002, with fresh inspiration, he put murals and commissions behind him and took on a unique interpretation of reality. Direct contributions to his current work may be attributed to ‘Park’ (1999) and many other paintings produced in 2000. Photographic abstraction and blurred images become the focus, and the tension in these illusive images gives rise to this new body of paintings.

The current solo exhibition, ‘THIS THING OF LIGHT’, embraces a different reality. The paintings reveal mystery and intrigue as the images he paints are obscured, but somehow recognizable. They seem to float through a romantic space that is strangely familiar. The onlooker recognizes the scene, but is intrigued by its abstraction.

His subject matter encompasses scenes of people in open spaces. The figures move through an ambiguous environment of light and shadow. Each is central to the success of the composition, but is also his focus. How they relate to each other in each painting and their composure invite the onlooker into joint contemplation. His sensitivity to the medium and figure is obvious.

BARLOW is less interested in scientific theories of light and colour, but more interested in the overwhelming experience of the natural world seen directly in all its splendour. There is life and movement in his paintings and they embrace a clear optimism with an element of free expression.

These paintings are, perhaps, reminiscent of the French Impressionists’ fascination with light and form and its fluctuating relationship. Each scene captures a moment in time with its spontaneity evident. The images formed by the rich elements of the oil paint have a somewhat delectable appearance that has prompted the many food related titles.

His primary delight is found in the exploration of light shining on form and on the abstraction that materializes as a result. He finds this mystery intriguing as he discovers there is something else beyond what is observed. Abstraction and all that is non-representational seem to emerge, as form is drenched in illumination.

As he says, "Life is not all about what is seen. There is another world beyond the material and the physical". In his work, PHILIP BARLOW reminds the onlooker that there is more.

‘This Thing of Light’ is dedicated to his parents, Brian and Caroline Barlow.

MARY-ROSE HENDRIKSE is showing a series of portraits in the long gallery in an exhibition entitled ‘FACE VALUE’. Of this exhibition the artist says: ‘The work on show represents a fairly open-ended exploration of the possibilities of portraiture. My aim in most cases was to portray faces as instances of human expression, rather than to portray specific personalities with fixed, immutable qualities. The genre of portraiture used to be concerned with fixing the essence of persons, with trapping souls. My concern has been to express rather the transient status of character and the fugitive qualities of facial expressions and states of mind.

Oil paint provides a suitable medium for this purpose given its fluid and ambiguous qualities. (Unlike more conceptual ‘portrait’ painters, though, I still believe in the value and validity of the ‘private face’.)

I have derived my subjects and my visual references from sources varying from newspaper articles to photographs of personal friends and family and photos of myself. I consider this work as paying value to the devalued – to the human face at its private moments, and to the language of painting (however depleted it may sometimes seem)."

MARY-ROSE HENDRIKSE was born in Cape Town in 1963. She holds a BA Fine Arts degree (awarded with distinction in History of Art) from the University of South Africa (UNISA) 1998, and an Honours degree in English Literature (awarded with distinction) from the University of Cape Town (UCT) 1987, as well as a BA degree from UCT in 1984.

She began exhibiting on group exhibitions in 1992 with the UNISA exhibition in Pretoria. Subsequent exhibitions include: ‘New Signatures’ at the Arts Association in Pretoria in 1993, "Art in the Castle" at the Castle in Cape Town in 1994, 4 artists at the AVA in 1996, False Bay Coastal Scenes at the Natale Labia Museum in Muizenberg in 1997, as well as another UNISA exhibition in Pretoria in the same year. In 1998 she participated in an exhibition in Gallery 68 in Cape Town. In 1999 she participated in the Winsor & Newton Worldwide Millennium painting competition and she was selected as a South African semi-finalist on a show at the Sandton Civic Gallery. She went on to exhibit, as one of the world’s top twelve finalists in this Windsor Newton competition, (the largest of its kind, based on more than 22 000 entries!) in the Mall Galleries in London, the World Trade Centre in Stockholm and the United Nations in New York.

HENDRIKSE has had her poetry published in several South African literary journals, namely New Contrast, New Coin, Sesame and Staffrider. Her dissertation for her BA degree, entitled "Beyond possession: Marlene Dumas and the mobilization of subject, paint and meaning" was published in De Arte, the UNISA art publication, in its September 2002 issue.

She has work in many private collections around the world and locally, as well as in the corporate collections of SANAVA and Winsor & Newton in London. She now lives and works in Riviersonderend in the Cape.

Philip Barlow
500 x 750 mm
oils on canvas

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