Gunther Herbst: The Man Who Wasn't ThereGallery AOP
Gunther Herbst's first show of oil paintings in South Africa after 20 years' absence opens on 11 August at Gallery AOP at 14:00.
The Man Who Wasn’t There
11 August – 1 September 2012
Please join us for the opening on Saturday August, 11 at 14:00
Preview by appointment. Exhibition brochure available
GALLERY AOP (Art on Paper)
44 Stanley Avenue Braamfontein Werf (Milpark) Johannesburg
011 726 2234 firstname.lastname@example.org www.galleryaop.com
Günther Herbst made an indelible mark on the South African art scene in the late-1980s and early 1990s before he left the country to advance his artistic career, first in Berlin and then in London. GALLERY AOP is proud to mount his first solo exhibition in South Africa in almost twenty years. In this time Herbst has attained a phenomenal international reputation as an oil painter, receiving the highest accolades in the art world’s most prestigious magazine, Artform (October 2009). His work deals with the perennial subject matter of homelessness and diaspora.
“After moving from Berlin to London in 1995,” Herbst says, “I started photographing the makeshift shelters of London’s homeless population. In 1998 I gradually developed a way of painting them that could also comment on the bleak social issues involved. I work slowly, on several paintings at once, and often in series. The multi- layered images are steeped in hints and references to other artists – from Patrick Caulfield to Piet Mondrian. I am using these different art languages as a kind of a systematic code in order for the original subject matter to operate more poignantly. My past and present work is an attempt by me as an artist to deal with issues relating to transience and ephemeral structures, and is meant as a reminder that human habitats are built upon the wilderness and that our occupation of them is still precarious.”
In an incisive essay for the brochure accompanying the exhibition, Juan Bolivar, artist and writer residing in London, says that “the paintings by the artist Günther Herbst employ facets of familiar modernists’ symbols, as the signifiers for our current times. From Bauhaus, to De Stijl, traces of these seminal movements' imagery appear and disappear in his work in the form of recognisable grids, colour schemes and checker-boards; a fragmented Piet Mondrian transported into one of his own works (High Holborn 4/Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, 2012), like an unmanned raft left by modernism's drifting legacy. These emblems are the footprints of 'modern man'. They act like barcodes that can be scanned (or as a form of carbon dating), as these schematic signifiers are encoded into his practice. Placed within urban settings, they are unequivocally titled to reflect the synergy between these image's indexicality and the settings they inhabit: Tottenham Court Rd. 3/Black Blue Red, 2009, Whitfield St. 1,2/ Red Blue Yellow, 2010, and Waterloo Rd. 3/Red White Blue, 2009/12, to name a few of his works. The world occupied by these paintings within paintings, points to corners of society inhabited by those who have been evicted, ousted or perhaps just forgotten. Those overwhelmed by modern life.”
Günther Herbst has been teaching Fine Arts at Kingston University, London for the past three years. Before that he taught at Goldsmiths from 2006 – 2008, from which institution he also obtained a MA Fine Arts degree in 2002. His first degree in Fine Art was obtained from the University of Johannesburg in 1991 (at that stage it was called, Witwatersrand Technikon). Herbst exhibits widely, most notably in the UK, Europe and the USA. He won the prestigious Jerwood Contemporary Painters award in 2008. His work is represented in all the major public collections in South Africa, as well as important UK public collections and various international private collections. Reviews of his exhibitions appear in numerous international art magazines, most notably the October 2009 issue of Artforum. Herbst lives and works in London.
William van Rensburg
011 726 2234
082 808 9971
Gallery AOP, 44 Stanley Ave Milpark Johannesburg Gauteng South Africa