Pas­sage – a new ex­hi­bi­tion about be­ing en route


Dur­ban artists Ni­cole Pletts and Corné Ek­steen will kick off Ros­souw Mod­ern’s sum­mer ex­hi­bi­tion pro­gramme with a mov­ing joint ex­hi­bi­tion about their per­sonal life jour­neys, en­ti­tled ‘Pas­sage’. The ex­hi­bi­tion opens at the SPACE Gallery on Fri­day 4 Oc­to­ber and will run un­til 22 Oc­to­ber.

“Pas­sage is de­fined as the ac­tion or process of mov­ing through or past some­where on the way from one place to an­other,” says Corné. “As the ti­tle sug­gests, these works fo­cus on the tran­sit be­tween point A and B, but more specif­i­cally the uni­ver­sal hu­man ex­pe­ri­ence or jour­ney be­tween birth and death. With por­trai­ture as the foun­da­tion of my vis­ual vo­cab­u­lary, these works are vi­su­al­i­sa­tions of uni­ver­sal ex­pe­ri­ences re­lat­ing to trauma, rites of pas­sage, com­ing of age, the ag­ing process and per­sonal trans­for­ma­tions, which all play a part in cre­at­ing the great­est jour­ney of all – life.”

Ni­cole Pletts is well known as an artist who paints with pas­sion the things in life we know and love. Her work con­nects us with fa­mil­iar sub­ject mat­ter we can all re­late to: her chil­dren, her gar­den flow­ers, the pass­ing cy­clist, strangers at a street cafe; com­muters wait­ing for a train… Her paint­ings are typ­i­cally a cel­e­bra­tion of the or­di­nary, ev­ery­day things that co­coon and swad­dle our jour­ney through of­ten trou­bled times.

Ni­cole’s gutsy ap­proach as an ex­pres­sive painter im­bues what­ever she turns her eye to with a mag­i­cal, al­most tran­si­tory qual­ity. “My new ex­hi­bi­tion ‘Flights of Pas­sage’, is about be­ing en route – on the way to, or from some­where. It’s un­likely that our life’s jour­ney re­mains pre­dictable and it’s in the un­ex­pected turns and des­ti­na­tions that the magic lies. It is when you come to the edge of sub­ur­ban fairy-tale dreams and pur­ple Plum­bago that the winds of change blow in. Gen­tle breezes jumble and dis­ar­range, and a new life is formed, greater and bet­ter than be­fore”.

Ni­cole’s new ex­hi­bi­tion is a de­light­ful dream­like melange of im­ages. There are wings and fly­ing su­per­heroes, suit­cases and wait­ing, windswept birds, clouds, city sky­scrapers and air­plane win­dows. To­gether this im­agery evokes a world of fan­tasy grounded in the re­al­ity of or­di­nary things. The oil on can­vas ‘Flights of Pas­sage’ se­ries is about rid­ing the wings of change when the fa­mil­iar­ity of our lives has blown off course.

Once again, the artist waves her ad­ven­tur­ous paint brush like a wand with bold mag­i­cal strokes to evoke a very per­sonal jour­ney that we can all re­late to. Her ex­hi­bi­tion in­vites us to get on board, step off the fa­mil­iar­ity of our terra firma and soar with our su­per­heroes to new heights, which is where the magic of our lives lies – wind swept and in per­pet­ual flight.

“I first met Ni­cole seven years ago, when I started dat­ing her brother, An­drew. I had known about her and specif­i­cally her work by fol­low­ing her on so­cial me­dia be­fore even meet­ing An­drew, so it came as a sur­prise when I re­alised the fam­ily con­nec­tion,” says Corné. “Since then we’ve be­come very close and the three of us of­ten spend time to­gether and even go on hol­i­days to­gether. Our most ex­cit­ing trip was an ex­tended tour of Europe in 2017, when we trav­elled to 14 coun­tries in a camper van, fo­cus­ing on all the im­por­tant art mu­se­ums and his­toric high­lights. Ad­ven­tures like these have ce­mented our re­la­tion­ship and in­spired us to push our own cre­ative bound­aries.”

One of the pri­mary in­cen­tives for Corné as an artist to cre­ate is an ur­gency to com­pre­hend and come to terms with the here and now. “It is with that mo­ti­va­tion in mind that I of­ten find my­self search­ing the cur­rent cul­tural and artis­tic zeit­geist to take a po­si­tion, re­flect on or rein­ter­pret an as­pect within these uni­ver­sally held be­liefs. It is a search to find cul­tural or so­cial move­ments that res­onate with me and spark a vis­ual ex­pres­sion of a par­tic­u­lar ‘trend­ing’ so­cial norm.”

Corné ex­plains the body of work that rep­re­sents the ‘Pas­sage’ se­ries as hav­ing its con­cep­tual roots in pop­u­larised no­tions and propo­si­tions re­lat­ing to travel. “Pho­to­graphs of un­known places stream through our de­vices into our con­scious­ness on an ev­ery­day ba­sis, pinned to our mem­o­ries with en­tic­ing quotes about travel and the value and shifts in per­cep­tion of the world and our place in it, that trav­el­ling can yield. “More of­ten than not, the des­ti­na­tion is the fo­cus and the jour­ney be­tween point A and B only sug­gested. It is within that con­text that the most im­por­tant as­pect of trav­el­ling is down­played, in tan­dem with other uni­ver­sally held or pop­u­lar ideas, like ‘life is a jour­ney, not a des­ti­na­tion’. It is these con­cepts that form the ba­sis of the ex­hi­bi­tion.”

‘Pas­sage’ opens at SPACE on Fri­day 4 Oc­to­ber at 18:00. Con­tact

028 313 2222 or [email protected]­mod­

An ex­hi­bi­tion of works by Corné Ek­steen (por­trai­ture on the left) and Ni­cole Pletts ('Flights of Pas­sage' on the right) will open at Ros­souw Mod­ern SPACE dur­ing Her­manus First Fri­days on 4 Oc­to­ber.

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