Memento Mori

Bank Gallery, Durban, South Africa

Artist's Statement

Conceptually my work is about excavation; this is reinforced by the removal of the surface to create the image. I work with imagery that interrogates both physical and emotional spaces, as these spaces shape our identities on a personal and socio-political level. Because gesso was used in icon painting and as a traditional Renaissance ground, it can be seen as a hallowed surface. By cutting into or scarring this surface, I try to investigate not only the conceptual issues of unearthing my past, but also the traditions of western painting under which I have studied.

Memento Mori is a Latin phrase that can be roughly translated as "Remember that you are mortal". Traditionally a memento mori was a form of image created to remind the viewer that death is an unavoidable part of life, something to be prepared for at all times.

The works on the show refer as much to the small deaths or punctuations in life, which are catalysts for remembrance / reflection, as they do physical mortality. Here 'death' becomes a punctuation that allows us a moment of reflection. For me, it is in that moment that I feel a memory is born. Paradoxically, it is also at that moment that memory starts to degrade and we begin the process of archiving the details of an event. The whole never survives and a memory becomes an accumulation of details or moments. In these works the surface holds a trace of the process of erasing / degrading the image and the desire to retain the memory is mirrored by the effort to retain the surface. This new body of work can be seen as a transition between one mental space and another and as such is a collection of works that are reflective and in the process of becoming rather than resolved and definitive. The works consist largely of horizontal panels that allude to death or repose.

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