03 Sep Nicole Pletts & Corne Eksteen – Passage – 4 October 2019
Durban artists Nicole Pletts and Corne Eksteen together kick off the summer exhibition program with a moving exhibition about their personal current life journeys in an exhibition opening at Rossouw Modern SPACE on Friday 4 October.
Exhibition on until 22 October 2019
“Passage” – the action or process of moving through or past somewhere on the way from one place to another.
As the word passage 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.
One of the primary incentives for me 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 sparks a visual expression of a particular “trending” social norm.
The body of work that represents the “passage” series has 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 than often the destination is the focus and the journey between point A and B only suggested. It is within that context where 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” that these works had their conceptual beginnings.
Short little blurp about Nicole and I:
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 realized the family connection. Since then we’ve become quite close and I consider her my sister and a very dear friend. Andrew and Nicole are very close so we often spend time together and very often holiday together. We’ve done many trips to Mozambique and other local destinations together. Our most exciting trip together was when Nicole joined Andrew and I on an extended tour of Europe in 2017. With all 3 of us having very similar interests, Andrew had planned a meticulous trip of Europe focusing on all the most important art museums, historic places, all thrown together with seeing all the must see spots in 15 European countries. (UK, Netherlands, Belgium, France, Spain, Monaco, Italy, Slovakia, Hungary, Slovenia, Poland, Germany, Austria & Switzerland) We hired a motorhome and explored the best of Europe over a period of seven weeks. It was an amazing experience to see every important art museum, including the Venice Biennale with people who shared my passion and love of the arts. Trips like these have cemented our relationship and inspired us to push our own creative boundaries.
Apart from our many travels spent together, Nicole was also instrumental in helping me find my feet in the local art community after moving to Durban. She’s an amazing support in my professional life. We often attend local exhibition openings together which inevitably turn into late nights with too much food and too much wine. Although we hardly ever spend time in each other’s studios, we both know that if either of us hit a brick wall in terms of painting, supplies or any crises related to the creative process, help, support and encouragement is just a phone call away.
Nicole Pletts is well known as a painter who paints with passion the things in life we know and love. Her previous exhibitions typically connect with familiar subject matter in a way that we can all relate to. Her children; her garden flowers; the passing cyclist; strangers at a street cafe; diving into a summer pool and the highway bridges on our seemingly endless commutes. We connect with her paintings as they conjure our own familiar awakenings to the things that surround us. 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 on 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. When you come to the edge of all that one knows 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 that she so admires. The oil on canvas ‘Flights of Passage’ series is about riding the wings of change when the familiarity of our lives has blown its 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 as it may be.