All Posts in Past Reviews

December 3, 2014 - Comments Off on Greatest Hits : 2014 curated by Matthew Blackman 29 January – 20 February 2015

Greatest Hits : 2014 curated by Matthew Blackman 29 January – 20 February 2015

Greatest Hits 2014 is a curated exhibition with artworks selected from the Michaelis school of Fine Art UCT, Ruth Prowse School of Art and Stellenbosch University Graduate exhibitions. Greatest Hits 2014 offers an overview of the local and broader discourses that run through the three schools and reflects the quality of work produced by the graduate students in 2014.

May 29, 2014 - Comments Off on AVA Gallery Saturday Cult Programme : True / Story Short Film Screening 31 May 2014

AVA Gallery Saturday Cult Programme : True / Story Short Film Screening 31 May 2014

TRUE/STORY Short Film Screening Saturday, 31 May 2014 17:00 - 19:00

Stills from Penny Siopis’ Obscure White Messenger
Stills from Penny Siopis’ Obscure White Messenger

This week, the AVA’s Saturday Cult programme screens four films dealing with issues of migrancy and alienation, here curated to obfuscate the erroneous boundaries between documentary and fiction. Thereafter, film fundi Roger Young ignites and directs the conversation between film-makers, producers, artists and you.

CROSSING THE LIMPOPO (2009, 15 min) by DAN HALTER shows the artist being lead across the Limpopo River from Zimbabwe into South Africa, by a cigarette smuggler, along one of the routes used by border jumpers. By playing the notorious barrier up against the passage Zimbabwean immigrants face, Halter uses a dark dark humour to interrogate xenophobia, international relations, and sad and empty promises

BORDER FARM (2011, 32 min) by THENJIWE NIKI NKOSI is a docu-drama about a group of Zimbabwean border jumpers who make their way across the Limpopo River from Zimbabwe to seek work on farms in South Africa. It portrays the many-layered drama of forced migration and is written, acted and crewed by the people who made the journey themselves. The film examines the structure of political, social and architectural power, and the invisible forces that create them.

VECINOS, translated as NEIGHBOURS (2013, 9 min 45 sec) by SYDELLE WILLOW SMITH follows three African migrants as they navigate the urban space of Barcelona: Xumo Nunjo, a musician born in Cameroon; Mamadou Dia, a writer and educator born in Senegal; and Gelia Barila Angri, from Equatorial Guinea. These participants offer an opportunity to re-consider notions of home and belonging in black Europe, framing their narratives around a real or symbolic return to Africa.

OBSCURE WHITE MESSENGER (2010, 15 min 7 sec) by PENNY SIOPIS splices together anonymous film footage found in flea markets with a transcript of the psychiatrist’s interview with  Demitrios Tsafendas, the man who murdered Verwoerd. By exploring the fact that Tsafendas was an oddball, an outsider, a drifter, a man to whom no country would give citizenship, not even the place of his birth, Siopis highlights the effects of xenophobia as much as she questions the distinction between fact and fiction.

April 3, 2014 - Comments Off on INSIDE OUT: A SOLO EXHIBITION OF NEW PAINTING BY SWAIN HOOGERVORST 15 April – 8 May 2014


Swain Hoogervorst: Reflection 3 primaries plus white (2014); Oil on paper

Swain Hoogervorst: Reflection 3 primaries plus white (2014); Oil on paper


Swain Hoogervorst is one of a new generation of South African painters who are reinvigorating the technical meticulousness of classical oil painting in their explorations of the contemporary. Inside Out, an exhibition of Hoogervorst’s new work, uses the artist’s own photographs and found material to explore specific questions he has about painting.

Hoogervorst writes that: “Painting is a place of comfort, yet all the time uncomfortable. It can be completely liberating or extremely fearful. The studio is a retreat, a safe place of peace and quiet that does not require explanations; it can even be an excuse. At the same time it can become isolating, overwhelming, depressing and even be a cause for anti-social or 'abnormal' behaviour. Within this retreat I paint more retreats of my own. Places that I am drawn to, be it by their colour or the questions that brought me there; by the forms created through the interplay of light and shadow or even just the overall beauty of the image itself. I paint because this is the one way I know how to communicate my feelings about what I see and what I encounter.”


Swain Hoogervorst holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Arts from Vega (2010), and has previously worked with Andrew Putter’s The Sketch Assembly (2010). He currently works from Eastside Studios in Cape Town. In 2013 Hoogervorst was a finalist in the Absa Atelier Competition, and a participating artist at Schildersweek in Domburg, The Netherlands. His work has been shown in numerous group exhibitions nationally and internationally.


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April 3, 2014 - Comments Off on flash!back(s): A SOLO EXHIBITION OF NEW WORK BY JOHANN DU PLESSIS 15 April – 8 May 2014

flash!back(s): A SOLO EXHIBITION OF NEW WORK BY JOHANN DU PLESSIS 15 April – 8 May 2014

Johann du Plessis - From the "flash!back(s)" series - 2012/2013 - UV cured inks on perspex

Johann du Plessis - From the "flash!back(s)" series - 2012/2013 - UV cured inks on perspex


The award winning artist Johann du Plessis looks back at 2012 and 2013 with a series of 30 new mixed media works in his latest solo exhibition, “flash!-back(s). Du Plessis, who began to recover last year from a long and arduous battle with cancer, utilises photographs taken en route to Cape Town from last year’s Klein Karoo National Arts Festival, Oudtshoorn. The process of integration of these images with other mediums such as collage and drawing was a reaction to newfound hope and dignity as the effects of radiation and chemotherapy on body and soul gradually started to fade.

Du Plessis reworked and manipulated his images into an arresting series of vertical and horizontal panels. It is less of a documentation of specific places, and more of a process of reflection through remembering (pictures) and re-enacting (drawing and collage) an emotive journey through time and space. Visually, the panels have a strong meditative quality which flows smoothly through fragmented landscapes. Du Plessis describes these works as “reflections of moments in time and space, allowing ideas to form meaning through different layers of reality”.


Johann Du Plessis is an artist, art educator and curator. A retrospective of his work recently travelled to the Sasol Museum in Stellenbosch, the William Humphreys Art Gallery in Kimberley and the gallery of the North West University in 2014 and 2014. His work is included in various public, corporate and private collections in South Africa and abroad.  Du Plessis has received numerous awards including being the overall winner at the FNB Art Competition (1987); a merit award at the 15th Grand Prix International d’Art Contemporain in Monaco, and finalists in the FNB Vita Art Now Award (1995) and the Brett Kebble Art Awards (2003).


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February 20, 2014 - Comments Off on Jo Voysey – Remedy – 3 March – 10 April 2014

Jo Voysey – Remedy – 3 March – 10 April 2014

In this exhibition Jo Voysey focuses on the expressive potential of medicinal remedies as a medium for painting. Her exploration is concentrated on aspects of the human relationship to animals in captivity, and stems from a relationship she had with a caged bear when she was living in Georgia, Eastern Europe, in 2011. Her time with the bear affected her profoundly, and prompted her to think more deeply about human relationships with animals and how they are expressed in contemporary art.

She started using medicine as her medium for painting many years ago. At that time, she was working with ideas of hurt, loss and healing that related to her experience of the sudden and traumatic deaths of her three uncles, who died in quick succession over a very short period. She wanted a medium that could function symbolically and formally, and that could evoke the human bodies that she did not want to depict naturalistically. Medicine offered to be the perfect medium that now continues to function analogically with loss and healing in her work. In this exhibition, she uses it to portray her encounter with another animal family: that of the bear.

The work speaks of the obscuring of boundaries between humans and animals. It reflects that the lives of the two are becoming increasingly intertwined, and the dividing line between what is distinguished as animal and what as human is becoming incredibly thin. In this instance, Voysey sees the ever-softening dividing line as a metaphor for our love for animals, as well as our contradictory ability to treat animals with disregard, or to simply abandon them.


Jo Voysey - Curious Creature - 2013

Jo Voysey - Curious Creature - 2013
















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January 21, 2014 - Comments Off on Donovan Ward – Brutalised Barbie – 3 March – 10 April 2014

Donovan Ward – Brutalised Barbie – 3 March – 10 April 2014

The American corporation Mattel Inc. started producing the Barbie doll in 1959. Barbie, like many products marketed at children by corporations based in the highly industrialised economies, has become ubiquitous. There have been approximately 2000 different types of Barbie dolls with accessories designed, and although marketed globally at children, the toy is also collected by adults.

The image of Barbie that endures is of a white, all American, and blue eyed blonde. Barbie occupies a fantasy world and she is promoted as a lifestyle, and not just a toy.


The doll comes in various versions that include a Hawaii beach type Barbie, a beauty queen Barbie, fairy Barbie as well as a princess Barbie. Nowhere is she represented as a migrant worker, blue collar worker, an activist interested in social issues or for that matter unemployed. She and her accruements largely reflect a happy though vacuous lifestyle that seems to echo a commodity culture promoted by the mainstream media. Barbie and her adornments register the lifestyle and values of the privileged consumer and capitalism.


The reality of most of the world’s children is not reflected in Barbie‘s world. This body of work attempts to draw attention to some of their realities. Some live in war zones and occupied territories like Palestine and Afghanistan. Others live with the memories and trauma of the bombing of Baghdad and Gaza, or the aftereffects of Agent Orange and the killing fields of Cambodia, Vietnam and Rwanda. Millions of children also live in abject poverty and are often exposed to drugs, sexual abuse and violence; in addition to being exposed to toxic pollutants and its effects.

This body of work builds upon a series of Barbie dolls started started by Donovan Ward in 1995.


Donovan Ward - Gaza Barbie

Donovan Ward - Gaza Barbie





















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