Naked Lunch -
ROELOF LOUW Solo Exhibition
Opening at 34FineArt, Buchanan Square, Woodstock, Cape Town
15 March - 23 April 2011
Roelof Louw, an artist of international prominence, initially began making screen prints as a complement to his 2006 exhibition of neon works,
Who the Villains. Louw soon found, however, that the graphic nature of screen printing presented him with the perfect opportunity to explore a deep-seeded interest in the affect of advertising upon our 'physical and psychic lives'. As a result in 2007 he began a series of screen prints in which he appropriated icons from advertising and altered them in such a way that they became antithetical to their original meaning. These prints now form a new exhibition entitled
Naked Lunch, opening 15 March at 34FineArt in Cape Town's Buchanan Square in Woodstock. Featuring sixteen limited edition screen prints in which popular icons have been re-worked, abstracted and ultimately recharged, this exhibition represents the artist's invasion into the domain of advertising.
At the heart of these works are the controversies of today's ethical issues which Louw ironically wraps in upbeat and attractive packages. Beneath the glitter and festive colours are a series of images designed to challenge our sense of good-and-evil and right-and-wrong. Louw plays with the way we respond, as he cleverly uses composition and colour to create an 'expression or mood' intentionally 'out of sync with the subject matter'. Packaging ethically questionable elements in cool looking pictures, he mimics advertising in his take on the commercial portrayal of 'the good life'–that is often at odds with reality. Louw achieves all this by 'twisting and tweaking' popular commercial icons like cowboys, cigarettes, crisply laundered white shirts, champagne bottles and luxury-liners into 'beautiful visual aphorisms of desire and despair'. He also turns up the volume on this effect by using other types of icons like a well known photograph of the Beat Generation author, William S. Burroughs. Burroughs, whose decadent classic,
Naked Lunch, was the inspiration for the exhibition's title, is depicted in an ironic print with Grace Jones and the infamous Herman Goering. Set against a playful backdrop evocative of parties, glamour and fun these images are used to parody ads for pre-mixed bottled cocktails with their deceptive sweet soda-pop flavour and 'kick-ass power'.
In 1961 Roelof Louw left Cape Town to study art in London, where he ultimately became one of the prominent young artists involved in revolutionizing the nature of British sculpture during the late 1960's and early 70's. At the prompting of the editor of
Artforum Magazine, in 1972 Louw moved from London to New York and assumed an important role in the development of site-specific sculpture which made significant advances in the US at that time. A frequent contributor to
Artforum Magazine and Studio International, he also taught and lectured at the Rhode Island School of Design and at colleges and universities
throughout the US and Canada. In 1986 Louw returned to Cape Town and established a studio in District Six, where he produced an extensive body of work on shaped and manipulated canvases. In 2003 Louw began working in neon – reportedly as the only artist in South Africa involved in the medium. Screen printing was added to this mix in 2006 and incorporated as a significant part of the artist's oeuvre.
Roelof Louw, whose work is included in the permanent collections of London's Tate Gallery, the Victoria and Albert Museum, and the Henry Moore Institute in Leeds, has exhibited extensively worldwide. He has held solo exhibitions at various galleries throughout South Africa as well as at the Museum of Modern Art at Oxford and London's Whitechapel Gallery. Louw has participated in group shows at Amsterdam's Stedelijk Museum, Bern's Kunsthalle, the Seattle Art Museum, Centre National d'Art Contemporain in Paris, New York's Sydney Janis Gallery, the Kunsternes Hus in Oslo, the Tokyo Biennale, and the Gothenborg Museum of Art in Sweden. In 2009, he was invited to the Henry Moore Institute to deliver a paper at the symposium, United Enemies – Rethinking Sculpture in Britain in the 1960's and 1970's.
Second Floor Hills Building, Buchanan Square
160 Sir Lowry Road
Tuesday - Friday 10:34-16:34
Andries Loots +27 82 354 1500