The notion that all art must be beautiful, elegantly designed and made with obvious technical skill is an outdated one. Beauty is not the appropriate aesthetic mode for every message, and sometimes there are more effective means to communicate an idea or story. Certainly there are truths that need to be screamed, not sung. Skill is a tool, just like any other. It stands to reason that great art can also be made using the tools of roughness, discordance and even ugliness. At the same time there are instances when skill, elegance and beauty are exactly the right tools, as they are for the artists in this exhibition.
This group exhibition explores the varied artistic strategies of eight artists who share an affinity for making work that is beautiful, exhibits a high degree of technical skill and a sophisticated sense of design. Hong Chun Zhang, Susan Rochester, Nathan Lewis, Analee Fuentes, Tallmadge Doyle, Leah Wilson, Kirsten Furlong and Frank Miller work in a variety of different media and make work that reflects their different temperaments, interests and specializations. The subject of their paintings, prints, drawings and photographs ranges from the political and environmental to issues of identity and visual culture. At the same time, their work shows us that conceptually-driven art can also be visually sophisticated and beautiful: a balanced marriage of form and content. You could say that these artists have found a middle path between the austerity of pure conceptualism and a slavish adherence to skill and beauty.
The work in this exhibition celebrates the fact that artists who follow very different conceptual paths can still reach the same aesthetic destination. These works remind us that in a world where ugliness is all too common, there is still a place for art that explores important ideas through skillful and beautiful means.
--Curator Andries Fourie