t a n y a  p o o l e : Who Are You?

Room 2

Opening Saturday 5 September 2015

Exhibition concludes Saturday 3 October 2015


The Fried Contemporary Art Gallery is pleased to announce a solo exhibition by Tanya Poole (b. 1971) in Room 2.

Tanya Poole’s work is known for its combination of conceptual minimalism, the activation of the gallery space and its focus on real people in time and place. Its vitality lies in its eschewing of aesthetic clutter (generic artsiness) in the form of exaggeration and over elaboration for the sake of sensation. This exhibition thus appears deceptively simple, stark and poetic.

What you see is a line up of karateka from the Albany Karate club, in Grahamstown, in South Africa in 2015. Each person is known to the artist. Who are You, is at once documentary, census, and a highly personal view of people she knows and cares for. The viewer completes the installation by taking off their shoes and stepping into the space. The floor is not neutral territory. The viewer becomes a part of the artwork in trying to find their place in a virtual social arena.

The exhibition is a nuanced interactive installation, a single idea made concrete. Poole presents us with the facts: names and belt colours. We complete the work by projecting onto it our multiplicity of cultural and hierarchical systems. What do we feel (if anything) in the face of a forming South African culture, not the society crudely presented by newspaper headlines and real-politic, but the society that is forming in our everyday interactions, quietly in sports clubs, schools and neighbourhoods? This is the exhibition at its widest.

Poole’s outstanding ink work, shifts our focus from the macro to the humanity in each individual.

In her own words: “Ink is a mercurial medium. Applied to dry paper, it soaks into the paper immediately, and nothing will get rid of that stain – in this it is utterly unforgiving. But, soak the paper first and it will not obey any of your commands and will wander across the page where it will settle where and how it wants. The mark-making in this medium, in these portraits, mediates the relationships between me and the other. The marks I make describe faces as I know them and see them, but also contains aspects of those people which are hidden, and meaning lies in the layering of marks. The varied consistencies of the ink, the dark meniscuses formed at the edges of pools of watery ink, the dampness of the paper making the bleed, the blur, all these speak to the intense interactions I have with the people you see here.”

Nigel Mullins, 2015

Artworks Gallery

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