This past weekend the South African art world had the tragic news of the untimely passing of Barend de Wet. We first met in 2008 at Studio 2666 in Commercial Street, just behind parliament in Cape Town. Barefoot and dressed in a skimpy bathrobe, he was demonstrating his mad yo-yo skills. He was very good – a world champion.
In between then and now I grew to know Barend, not as the mythological artist with the occasional penchant for public nudity, but rather as a spirit who was generous with answers to questions he must have heard a thousand times before. To me, beneath his tattooed veneer, lay the infectious smile of an ageless prankster who basked in the adoration of the world around him.
Sadly, I did not know Barend well enough to attempt to do justice to his life and work here. Instead, in the face of such tragedy I will leave that task to Sean O’Toole whose conversations with Barend reveal the depth and lightness of South Africa’s most loved maximalist.
In other news from last week, Zwelethu Mthethwa was convicted of the murder of Nokupila Kumalo in the Western Cape High Court. As his well paid attorney, William Booth argued for the conditions of his bail to be extended, deputy judge president Patrica Goliath swiftly reminded him that a conviction precludes such a right because the juridical notion of “innocent until proven guilty” no longer stands. Mthethwa will appear before the court again at the end of the month to hear his sentence. Adjective will post an update on those proceedings next week.
Moving onto the business of this week. First up we have Anna Stielau looking at how Jared Ginsberg’s Interludes addresses the gap with art and theatre. Then we have M. Thesen Law addressing Pushing Thirty, the solo exhibition by the perennial-millennial Jody Paulson currently on show at SMAC Cape Town until this weekend.
Then, in our last gallery related piece is Roxy Kawitzky who examines the governing principle of Negative Space, from the self-reflexively titled group show at WHATIFTHEWORLD.
Keeping matters experimental is the second installment of Pictures & Prose by Anne Historical. Taking queue from a pencil drawing by Abongile Nojaja, comes the “incommensurable economies” contained with the image, exposing the perceptive fragility of the viewers experience.
Then lastly, adjective introduces you to a new monthly column by Tymon Smith who turns his eyes to the cinema by looking at art films. “Not the ones”, as he reminds us “where Europeans get naked and have sex in Paris apartments – but films about art have populated the movies almost since their invention”. Over the next few months he’ll “trawl through the archives looking at films about art and seeing what they can tell us about the popular perception of artists and how they reinforce or contradict what we think we know about creators and the creative process”.