Cape Town

12 August - 30 September 2023
Zander Blom
Monochrome Paintings
Monochrome Paintings

Monochrome Paintings in progress in the artist's studio, Cape Town, 2023

STEVENSON is pleased to present Monochrome Paintings, a solo exhibition of new paintings by Zander Blom.
The artist writes: 

I have been promiscuous as a painter over the last decade, changing style and technique often. The monochrome works started as a fling, a love affair with a method of painting that revealed itself in the studio one day. The new flame took over my life, kicking everything else out, as many infatuations had done before. I was so attracted to this new manner of painting because it immediately suggested a combination of techniques that would make a very specific type of monochrome abstract painting achievable – hyper flat, sharp and scalable, with great possibilities for three-dimensional illusion, and an almost photographic, digital quality in terms of grain and gradients. The process dictates that a painting be done in a fashion akin to action painting, working quickly, using your whole body – a mode of painting that suits my temperament.
This moment in my journey with painting has been somewhat of a homecoming. The fling turned into a long-term relationship. I’ve worked with this process for over two years now and I don’t see an end on the horizon. When I started out as a young artist in the early 2000s I was working in monochrome because of limited funds as well as a fascination with stripping things down to the bare essentials. Back then I worked mostly with ink on paper, printmaking and later photography (which was also mostly heavily desaturated). Since I began painting with oil on canvas, around 2010, I’ve only returned to monochrome for short bouts of time, as a way to gather strength and find clarity, but never for very long.
In the new works the forms can be seductive and joyful yet dark and menacing; they sit on top of the canvas twisting and turning, other times they recede into an abyss where space seems to collapse in on itself. Some compositions feel like portals, others like gilded baroque gates, cages or fences. Some doff their caps to minimalism and futurism while others flirt with the decorative. These pictures are open in the sense that they never settle into recognisable forms, yet they aren’t simply abstract elements arranged to please the eye. They often seem to be tangible ‘things’ or images of events in time and space, perhaps just not from our world. For the most part there is nothing subtle or understated about them. They are not hazy, far away or out of focus. They are sharp and crisp. They announce themselves with confidence, yet what are they? What do they say? What language do they speak? Are they silent or do they scream? Do they even have a sound? Are they moving fast, hurtling through space, or are they perfectly still? I don’t exactly know what they are or mean but they fascinate me. I’m drawn to making them and I like to look at them. What combinations of line, texture and form invoke what kind of emotional response or visual interpretation – and how does our own time, knowledge and experience affect those perceptions? What combination makes an image that is compelling to look at? And why is one thing dead and another alive?
It seems that I want to make limb-like forms that writhe around. I want to give them sharp menacing tendrils, and little pitch-black portals going who-knows-where. I must want to see big pools of black darkness filled with fragmentary lines and unrecognisable shapes colliding. I want them to feel organic, warm, soft, weirdly familiar, sensuous, elastic, natural, alive, sentient, inviting, yet also technological, hard, cold, angular, jagged, foreign, unsympathetic, threatening – this is what this particular painting method wants to do, what it’s good at, what it brings out of me, and in that sense I’m in alignment with the possibilities of the method. These must be the kind of things that I want to pour out onto the canvas at this time, and paintings like these will likely continue to crawl out of the studio until the alignment goes out of sync.

The exhibition opens on Saturday 12 August, 10am to 1pm. The artist will give a walkabout of Monochrome Paintings on the day of the opening at 11am.