The Huxley-Parlour Art Gallery presents “A String of Signs“, an exhibition by South African artist Kate Gottgens, for the first time in the UK. Through profound and expressive visual expression, she explores the concepts of nostalgia, entropy and ephemerality in domestic suburbia. The contemporary artist will occupy the gallery’s art space until October 21, 2023, with the exhibition opening scheduled for September 20, 2023.
Born in 1965, Kate Gottgens graduated from the Michaelis School of Fine Art at the University of Cape Town in 1987. She lives and works in her home country, but her art has been exhibited in many countries around the world, including Europe, India, South Africa and the USA. Her paintings are inspired by the writings of the famous literary critic and philosopher Roland Barthes, for whom an image can take on many different meanings, forming a “floating chain of signifieds“.
The exhibition “A String of Signs” comprises 12 new canvases and a group of new monotypes, presenting imagined scenes constructed from decontextualized images drawn from a vast archive of vernacular photographs found by the contemporary artist. To detach herself from photographic reality, Kate Gottgens uses various processes such as abrasion, self-cancellation and indistinction. These artistic techniques enable her to bring her works closer to the altered, faded nature of the photographs that inspired them. By reappropriating historical images, she seeks to reduce their temporal value to an instant, capturing all the depth of past, present and future moments in a single image.
“A String of Signs” is considered Kate Gottgens’ most powerful artistic composition to date. It presents a body of work reflecting the artist’s interest in suburbia and moments of relaxation, with scenes featuring activities at the pool, on lush green lawns or in the open air. In her creations, Kate Gottgens tests the limits of fixity, object certainty and subjectivity by disrupting and removing scenes and certain figure features. The intense colors, washes and veils of paint used in his works give them depth and a powerful expressive value.
Through unstable motifs in perpetual transition, between tents, a feather, balloons or a lit cigar, Kate Gottgens reveals in her canvases the ephemeral nature of a constantly changing environment, as well as our vain attempts to access a brief moment of plenitude.