New year, new beginnings, UJ Art Gallery kicks off with Corné Venter’s Susurration: Faint whispers, deep understanding
UJ Arts & Culture, a division of the Faculty of Art, Design and Architecture (FADA) at the University of Johannesburg, is proud to announce the opening of Corné Venter’s solo exhibition: Susurration: Faint whispers, deep understanding opening on 24 January 2022 and running to 4 February 2022.
Susurration: Faint whispers, deep understanding – Venter’s first solo exhibition takes place amid a twilight moment for the UJ Art Gallery as it enters at new phase and curatorial turn. This exhibition further demonstrates the Art Gallery’s commitment to shaping the future through partnering with and supporting emerging, and mid-career artists.
Described by Venter as a way to share his strength through vulnerability, Susurration: Faint whispers, deep understanding is a culmination of Venter’s last two years of study at UJ towards his MaVA. The exhibition which includes drawings and paintings, as well as book objects, is an exploration of palimpsest and self-dialogism in his own art. “It is a way to be quiet and listen for the whispers that are never heard.” Palimpsest refers to the act of scraping or washing an artwork clean so that it can be rewritten or reused, but still bears traces of its earlier form beneath the surface.
“The works on exhibition attempt to construct palimpsest as a visual language to engage with memories of trauma. I’ve taken a multi modal approach to my artmaking with this exhibition; that is to say I have included fabric hangings, paintings, drawings and artist’s books,” says Venter of the exhibition. Venter describes his work as always having been personal, starting from what he knows and his position, before commenting on complex issues.
“When I started on this journey, I was dealing with a lot of unprocessed emotion related to trauma and had reached crisis point. Through reading, research and the eventual production of work I found a thread that I can follow to trace my way to possible resolution,” explains Venter.
His initial approach was aporetic, reading here and there and creating art in order to understand the research. However, as he progressed a process of reciprocal growth started to take place between him and the research he was doing. In reading Sarah Dillon’s writings on the palimpsest his aim became clear, and he started to understand the power that lies in analysing his own metaphorical palimpsest. Her writing introduced him to the history of the palimpsest and the writers before her who analysed the palimpsest, like Thomas De Quincey and Gérard Genette.
“My growing understanding of the palimpsest enabled me to trace back instances where I had, unwittingly, applied this strategy before. This was a revelation, as I found myself no longer floundering in the dark but could see what I had been trying to express in my art for years: how to engage memories and resolve trauma through layering conversations and images. My reading and understanding of the pool of research surrounding the palimpsest gave me a way to see my mode of artmaking as a valid response, to see what I produced not as solitary outbursts of creativity that came only in times of crisis but as a systematic analysis of all that churned and bubbled inside me, the crescendo of many internal dialogues. I soon realised that palimpsesting was at the core of my artmaking and I had to understand what constituted the layers of my own palimpsest for me,” he said further.
“This study has given me the opportunity to – for lack of a better expression- ‘time- travel’ and rewrite negative instances in my past, to access them through my layered life experience and to question them, re-evaluate why things happened the way they did and to access what these experiences could possibly bring to my life now if I ‘disarmed’ them. It has been a very rewarding experience that I think is a wonderful starting point for future enquiry.”
It is Venter’s hope that Susurration: Faint whispers, deep understanding offers visitors to the exhibition a viable entry point into seeking their own catharsis through engaging in self-dialogism and palimpsesting,
About UJ Arts & Culture
UJ Arts & Culture, a division of the Faculty of Art, Design & Architecture (FADA), produces and presents world-class student and professional arts programmes aligned to the UJ vision of an international university of choice, anchored in Africa, dynamically shaping the future. A robust range of arts platforms are offered on all four UJ campuses for students, staff, alumni and the general public to experience and engage with emerging and established Pan-African and international artists drawn from the full spectrum of the arts.
In addition to UJ Arts & Culture, FADA (www.uj.ac.za/fada) offers programmes in eight creative disciplines, in Art, Design and Architecture, as well as playing home to the NRF SARChI Chair in South African Art & Visual Culture, and the Visual Identities in Art & Design Research Centre. The Faculty has a strong focus on sustainability and relevance, and engages actively with the dynamism, creativity and diversity of Johannesburg in imagining new approaches to art and design education.