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Monday, October 5, 2020


The KZNSA Gallery will host the exhibition Three way opening on Friday, October 9, 2020, at 18h00.

The group exhibition presents work by Callan Grecia, Phillip Steele and Brett Seiler, as curated by Jo Voysey and Kim Kandan. This is the first in-person exhibition opening at the gallery since lockdown.

Three way explores notions of queerness in, sometimes, very direct and other times veiled ways. All three artists present a personal relationship with the notion of queerness. The term is contested, both celebrated and hated - even in the contemporary, thus it continues to hold various meanings for the individual. In Three way, the work is examined through the queer lens as each artist uses historical references while remaining rooted in the current moment and some idea of the future.

Originally describing something strange or unusual, the word “queer” took on a new meaning in the early 1900s when it started to be used as a form of insult towards men and women who engaged in homosexual relationships and to those who exhibited non-normative gender expressions. In recent years, social movements have reclaimed the word as a self-identifier for non-heterosexuals. Queer is now generally used to describe people across the LGBTQ+ spectrum. Academically, the word queer is also used to describe those who practice unconventional sex (e.g. bondage, etc.), therefore heterosexuals too can sometimes be defined as queer.

Grecia, Steele and Seiler explore notions of queerness to both question and highlight historical movements and moments with a particular emphasis on sexuality and the LGBTQ+ community. All three artists work with the human figure in relation to text, to conjure up feelings of queerness or the concealment thereof in the viewer. Working with a wide scope of media, from paintings to film, sculpture and installation, the artists engage in experimental modes of working, exploring ideas around quick application, gestural mark-making and surface. Grecia, Steele and Seiler use both colour and monochromatic elements in different ways to investigate the complexities and variedness of queerness in a local context. 

Callan Grecia

Callan Grecia describes her work: “The way I paint is still deeply rooted in a long white history of oil painting which is unfortunately a product of my also very long, very white academic training. At the same time, it is a continuous attempt at rejecting, subverting and generally taking the piss out of the parts that I find pretentious, superfluous, racist, etc. The images that inform my work are a distillation of my environment, which is then run through the filter of my own perception and unique experience of the world. Sometimes vice versa.

 “Football, fashion, raves and other artists' work finds its way into the paintings much in the same way as they occur on the internet, where any multiplicity is flattened into something cohesive  and easily digestible via newsfeed or timeline. His use of bold colour, gestural mark making juxtaposed with the use of hard line, exploration of the surface and the introduction of layers  of mixed media talk to notions of “unusualness.”

Through these explorations, Grecia conflates past, present and future in less obvious and more interesting ways.

Phillip Steele

While Phillip Steele’s work is more direct in its exploration of gay identity and the modes in which it is presented, viewed and owned; his use of colour, text and the human form speaks to that of Grecia’s. In his attempt to arrest exoticization, exploitation, denial of certain bodies, and stereotyping he uses the strong contrast of monochromatic elements alongside flat poster paint colours. 

Steele states: “The work recognises, elevates, and inserts untold narratives into the accepted Western art canon, ensuring a more inclusive, truer telling of the history of desire in art and culture.… My source material is 20th century gay “adult” and physical culture magazines. As much as these publications contributed to keeping homosexuality in the public realm, ironically, to still be published they had to practice self-censorship.

Steele’s process allows him to control certain aspects of work – the flat use of colour to suggest poster painting and his use of text – can be seen as a metaphor for his attempt to control some of the ways in which his community is presented, perceived and exists. As he says this is his unapologetic gesture to the representation of acts of gay desire, lust and love.  

Brett Seiler

Exploring complex themes such as love, loss and queer identity, Brett Seiler’s work dives into historic gay modes of communication and conduct. The use of mixed media, text, language and the human form being crucial to Seiler’s work is the thread that runs through all three artists’ work. Focusing on the sexual oppression of gay men, Seiler’s monochromatic paintings, process works, and installations bring about feelings of longing and nostalgia. 

Seiler explains: “I think that is what is so romantic about found objects – because they hold stories  and histories and when they eventually land in my studio, I try to re-purpose them  which in itself is a sort of queerness, to give a new narrative of romantic gesture to  discarded materials…”

Often Seiler’s work is accompanied by interventions – bringing ‘queer’ into the gallery space through writings and imagery directly onto the walls of the space – as a revolt or disobedience. 

Queerness is proudly represented in this exhibition of three diverse artists.

Entrance is free. KZNSA practices social distancing protocols and has a health and safety officer with training in Covid-19 screening.

Three Way will run until November 1. The KZNSA Gallery is situated at 166 Bulwer Road, Glenwood, in Durban. More information on 031 277 1705 or cell 082 220 0368 or visit