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Friday, February 6, 2009


(Pic: Installation by Hentie van der Merwe)

Exhibition at the KZNSA Gallery also includes works from the Sasol Wax Art Award Jewellery Outreach Initiative.

Hentie van der Merwe has been awarded the Sasol Wax Art Award 2008, the countries most prestigious accolade recognizing the contribution and work of professional career artists.

The Sasol Wax Art Award is South Africa’s most prestigious accolade for established artists. It is the only industry benchmark that recognises artists who have achieved professional maturity and are on a par with the best internationally.

Five of South Africa’s most dynamic contemporary artists, Avhashone Mainganye, Tracey Rose, Stephen Hobbs, Hentie van der Merwe and Brett Murray were selected, from over 100 nominations, to participate in the third Sasol Wax Art Award exhibition.

Each of these artists had to produce a body of work that took as its starting point, wax, whether through process, medium or concept. The winner joins the two previous winners, Jeremy Wafer and Walter Oltmann as artists who have been recognised by their peers for excellence in professional practice.

Van Der Merwe’s work is a complex installation which pushed the boundary of his own practice. In his work, entitled Reaching New Frontiers, van der Merwe explores new avenues in terms of medium, execution and display.

The relationship between art and industry is not only contemporary, but is recorded throughout art history. According to the artist, one of the earliest examples of an artwork where the relationship between art and industry is explored, is in a poem by Virgil called The Georgics from 29 BC, in which “a strong sense of the necessity and dignity of labour breathes throughout the poem from beginning to end”. In the fourth book of this poem the poet speaks of bees and beekeeping as a means of exploring the strife and flux between the metaphysical and the material. Another conceptual concern which the artist outlines is that of the artist/patron alliance.

This theme is explored trough a video of an unnamed man in a suit reading Virgil’s text in its original Latin (with subtitles on the screen). The screen is located on the wall of a sterile office cubicle, executed to the exact specs as set out by governmental labour practices.

The exhibition will also include works from the Sasol Wax Art Award Jewellery Outreach Initiative, funded by the Department of Arts and Culture. This project seeks to enhance skills exchange in the jewellery industry. It is highly significant that this exhibition is showing in Durban, as most of the winners of this initiative were drawn from the Durban University of Technology and Durban-based Velobala community group.

The Sasol Wax Art Award Exhibition opens at 1800 on February 17 to run until March 8 at 12h00.

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