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Sunday, August 16, 2009


(Pic: “Waiting room bench” and “Black House”, both works in steel)

Exhibition at the KZNSA traces the artist’s production over a period of 25 years

“I have become increasingly interested in what Umberto Eco called the semiotic web, a notion that things are not defined in themselves, but by way of their relation to all other things.” So said artist Jeremy Wafer in 2002 in Survey Sasol Art Museum, University of Stellenbosch

Currently running at the KZNSA Gallery, Structure: Avenues and Barriers of Power in the Work of Jeremy Wafer is an exhibition and publication which traces the artist’s production over a period of 25 years. The project starts by assuming that geometry is underlined by something greater than numbers, measurements, angles, trigonometry and the immediate beauty that originates from these applications of mathematics. It tries to fathom, beyond the strictly austere and the exactingly severe, the variability of emotions that function beneath the form.

In order to achieve some linear coherence within the abstraction of open-endedness, the project traces, in Wafer’s work, the movement from the masculine to the feminine, from the line to the circle, from the rigid to the free form, from the exactitude of mathematics to the imprecision of chance.

However, the key theme that emerges is Wafer’s insistence on the importance of the arbitrary, and in willing it to reveal its role in the bigger picture. It is in this working method where Wafer’s contribution to art history is at its most significant. The act of bestowing meaning and importance to the seemingly insignificant, forces us to consider the fact that if one thing matters, perhaps everything matters. And within this, Wafer insists that the closed, modernist structures – the attribution of the singular, the defined, the absolute – may be subverted through the introduction of an open-endedness. Things may not be as simple or defined as we think.

Jeremy Wafer is currently Associate Professor and Head of the Department of Fine Arts at University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg. He holds an MA from the University of the Witwatersrand and a BA from the University of Natal, Pietermaritzburg.

Wafer is the recipient of numerous awards and residencies, notably the Standard Bank National Drawing Prize in 1987 and the Sasol Wax Art Award in 2006. He has exhibited internationally in a range of solo and one-person shows, and is represented by the Goodman Gallery, South Africa. His public commissions include those at the Poynton Chapel, Botha’s Hill (1997); Diakonia Centre, Durban (1999–2001); Dorothy Nyembe Community Centre, Cato Crest (2000); and the Gugu Dlamini Park, Durban (2001).

His work is represented in international public and corporate collections, including the Museum of African Art, Smithsonian Institute, Washington; Library of Congress, Washington; IZIKO South African National Gallery, Cape Town; Johannesburg Art Gallery; Durban Art Gallery; Pretoria Art Museum; Tatham Art Gallery; University of the Witwatersrand Collection, Johannesburg; Natal Technikon Collection, Durban; MTN Collection, Johannesburg; BHP-Billiton Collection, Johannesburg; Didata Collection, Johannesburg; and the BoE Collection, Cape Town.

Structure: Avenues and Barriers of Power in the Work of Jeremy Wafer is curated by Brenton Maart and runs at the KZNSA Gallery in Bulwer Road, Glenwood, until September 5. More information on 031 277 1705, email: or visit