Between Worlds

Jo O'Connor, Nostalgia, 2024, Oil on canvas, 90 x 70 cm

WORDS Alastair Whitton

Between Worlds, a new group exhibition at Barnard Gallery weaves a narrative through the visual languages of figuration and abstraction. 

This intersectional collection of works considers the unexpected connections between these respective languages from different contexts and backgrounds. The ensuing ‘conversation’ provides the viewer with an interpretive link between the various worlds when these visual languages originate.

Tom Cullberg
Tom Cullberg, My Past is Your Future, 2019, Acrylic on canvas, 150 x 130 cm

The paintings of Swedish-born South African artist Tom Cullberg chart territories between seemingly tangible and intangible worlds, presenting the viewer with collections of represented objects that explore both fictitious storytelling as well as real or recorded histories. These signifiers or symbols hover or float over abstract grounds that, like the mechanics of memory appear in a state of flux.

Nicholas Hales
Nicholas Hales, Purification series, no.5, 2024, Oil and acrylic on wood, 35 x 35 cm

By contrast, the abstract paintings of Cape Town-based artist Nicholas Hales focus on form and colour. His compositions have a meditative quality, encouraging non-linear interpretation and conveying a sense of existence.

Jo O’Connor
Jo O’Connor, Small Evolution, 2024, Oil on canvas, 90 x 70 cm

Arguably closer in dialect to the paintings of Nicholas Hales, yet speaking a distinct language of their own, the work of Jo O’Connor explores colour and form in deceptively simple compositions.

Richard Mudariki
Richard Mudariki, Reform, Format, Scan, 2018, acrylic on canvas, 222 x 305 cm

By contrast, the narrative works of Zimbabwean artist Richard Mudariki, while as methodical as O’Connor in terms of their structure and design, communicate to the viewer through the language of satire and political commentary. And yet, despite the contrast of their intent both artists celebrate a patterned language that speaks to their respective cultural and art historical influences.   

Peter Eastman
Peter Eastman, Candlewood , 2024, Oil on aluminium, 165 x 135 cm

The meticulously rendered paintings of Peter Eastman appear to hover between representation and abstraction. Held in shallow relief depictions, his images often remain nearly invisible until the viewer is positioned correctly, allowing light to cast the images into relief. Exploring forested areas and dense undergrowth his paintings are created in two tones, a dark background and light foreground, and as such are in effect paintings of light reflected in these dark forested valleys.

Alexia Vogel
Alexia Vogel, Cooling, 2022, oil on canvas, 119 x 179 cm

Although also originally ‘drawn from nature’, the more recent paintings of Berlin-based South African artist Alexia Vogel venture into more abstract territory. In these bold new works, brushstrokes hold their own significance; marks made become events in and of themselves. Having always been directed first and foremost by the process – the spontaneous flow of paint on canvas, the instinctual thrust of gesture – Vogel now brings the physicality and movement of paint to centre stage while still referencing the lush and dreamy landscapes of her earlier work.

Between Worlds participating artists: Tom Cullberg, Peter Eastman, Richard Mudariki, Justin Dingwall, Jo Hummel, Nicholas Hales, Alexia Vogel, Jaco van Schalkwyk, Alastair Whitton, Lien Botha, Jo O’Connor and Jennifer Morrison.

Between Worlds will be open to the public from 6 – 30 March Monday through Friday 09:00 – 16:00 or by appointment outside of these hours.

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