An image that has been visually altered and abstracted through optical language is often understood in relation to African art and its influence on Western modern art. How then does the contemporary South African artist navigate and divert the constructed histories and assumed relationships of art practices in an African context? In Eclectica Design & Art’s latest exhibition Optical Diversion, six local contemporary artists come together in the gallery, each interrogating form and space in an abstracted way as a means of artistic expression.
The consideration of abstraction, reality and its manifestations in the common psyche comes together in Optical Diversion where what is understood by one can be interpreted differently by others. The challenge of the exhibition then becomes about reimagining a pattern of abstraction and the histories that South African artists exist within. The work by Zarah Cassim blurs landscapes and interprets realities in a fluid and investigative manner, while Albert Coertse evaluates his landscapes according to a structured and illusionary method. James De Villiers and Asanda Kupa’s expressive paintings look to the medium and materiality of the paint as a means of unpacking reality, while Catherine Ocholla’s play with realism and non-descriptive colour contemplates notions of perception and focus in dreamlike scenes. Mark Rautenbach’s work constantly diverts and moves around materiality and abstraction, where physical spaces become bizarre and intricate as places of interaction.