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Joachim Schönfeldt


Documentary Stills

8 - 29 September 2007
Opening Saturday 8 September 2007 at 14:00
Preview Friday 7 September 2007 from 13:00 to 17:00

The exhibition is accompanied by a catalogue

Joachim Schönfeldt is exhibiting sixteen wooden panels, painted between late 2006 and July 2007, under the title 'Documentary Stills'. The panels are carved from old wooden doors, and hand-embossed to resemble ‘an interlacing wooden band, or ribbon, forming one continuous, infinite line (which) knots, crosses and intersects itself to form an intricate arrangement of five convex, circular shields on which the landscape is painted in oil’. Each of these landscape paintings were painted and completed over a number of days, working in situ. Schönfeldt chose various locations in Johannesburg, Soweto and in the Cape winelands.

'Previously, Schönfeldt painted one panel per annum, usually as a memento of the family holiday destination of that particular year. It often served as payment in kind to the host of the wine farm or owner of the seaside cottage where he and his family had spent their holiday. The first of these panels, painted as homage to Durant Sihlali, acknowledges the kinds of things artists have to do in order to make a living! (Sihlali, for example, had to paint sellable township scenes for a popular market in order to stay alive.) The panel also served as photo album, capturing scenes from a particular holiday. As such, it could be likened to the small sketchbooks of nineteenth-century travellers, explorers and traders, venturing into the interior of the country and recording their notable observations. The scenes Schönfeldt documents in his latest work are particularly poignant: the glimpses of Josef’s Soweto garden – an extravagant ‘fire display’ composition of palm trees beside hardy, knotted shrubs – are as various and touching as the backyard of a typical Melville house – including a patch of red stoep and a potted plant, prefabricated walling, exposed plumbing, a forlorn children’s swing, and views of the domestic worker’s quarters. Equally evocative are the stills from Alexandra township and Chris Hani-Baragwanath Hospital in Soweto. At the hospital, Schönfeldt recorded the high-rise nurses’ quarters, the surrounding taxi ranks and omnipresent electrical pylons. In Alexandra, he captured the rooftops of the shacks, the grid-like layout of the streets, and random bits of foliage that force their way into our consciousness. But more important is the wall in the foreground of this cityscape, separating the observer from the observed. In these panels, Schönfeldt documents the continuous, changeable social stratification of contemporary society in a masterly way. His interlaced documentary stills invariably disentangle the fixed psychic positions we bring to the work.' (Extract from the text of the catalogue accompanying the exhibition.)

Short biography

Joachim Schönfeldt was born in Pretoria, South Africa and grew up in Namibia. After graduating from the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg in Fine Arts in the early 1980s. He worked for Meneghelli Holdings as an advisor, curator and researcher in old African art. He became a full-time artist in 1988. In 1989 he lived and worked in Italy before settling in Johannesburg the following year, writing criticism for a local daily newspaper. In 2002 he taught at the Ecole Cantonale d'Valais in Sierre, Switzerland.

He has exhibited widely internationally and represented South Africa at the Venice Biennale as well as the Sao Paolo Biennale. He participated in both Johannesburg Biennales in the 1990s. In 2001 he was short-listed for the Daimler Chrysler Award. His work is represented in various private and public collections, notably the Museum of Modern Art, New York. He is one of the founding artists of the Fordsburg Artists' Studios in Johannesburg, where he has a studio.

Joachim Schönfeldt has two children and lives in Johannesburg, South Africa.

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Click the image for a view of: Far East Bank. Alexandra. 2007. Oil paint and varnish on hand-embossed wooden panel. 730mm. Photograph W Oosthuizen
Far East Bank. Alexandra. 2007. Oil paint and varnish on hand-embossed wooden panel. 730mm. Photograph W Oosthuizen
Click the image for a view of: Johannesburg. January 2007. Oil and varnish on hand-embossed wooden panel. Largest dimension 730mm. Photograph W Oosthuizen
Johannesburg. January 2007. Oil and varnish on hand-embossed wooden panel. Largest dimension 730mm. Photograph W Oosthuizen
Click the image for a view of: Cricket Field. 2007. Oil paint and varnish on hand-embossed wooden panel. Largest dimension 240mm. Photograph W Oosthuizen
Cricket Field. 2007. Oil paint and varnish on hand-embossed wooden panel. Largest dimension 240mm. Photograph W Oosthuizen
Click the image for a view of: Joseph s Garden. Soweto. 2007. Oil paint and varnish on hand-embossed wooden panel. Largest dimension 730mm. Photograph W Oosthuizen
Joseph s Garden. Soweto. 2007. Oil paint and varnish on hand-embossed wooden panel. Largest dimension 730mm. Photograph W Oosthuizen
Click the image for a view of: Nurses Quarters Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital. Winter 2007. Oil paint and varnish on hand-embossed wooden panel. Largest dimension 730mm. Photograph W Oosthuizen
Nurses Quarters Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital. Winter 2007. Oil paint and varnish on hand-embossed wooden panel. Largest dimension 730mm. Photograph W Oosthuizen
Click the image for a view of: Melville. Winter 2007. Oil paint and varnish on hand-embossed wooden panel. 740mm. Photograph W Oosthuizen
Melville. Winter 2007. Oil paint and varnish on hand-embossed wooden panel. 740mm. Photograph W Oosthuizen
Click the image for a view of: Melville. Winter b. 2007. Oil paint and varnish on hand-embossed wooden panel. Largest dimension 730mm. Photograph W Oosthuizen
Melville. Winter b. 2007. Oil paint and varnish on hand-embossed wooden panel. Largest dimension 730mm. Photograph W Oosthuizen
Click the image for a view of: Orlando East. Soweto. February 2007. Oil paint and varnish on hand-embossed wooden panel. Largest dimension 730mm. Photograph W Oosthuizen
Orlando East. Soweto. February 2007. Oil paint and varnish on hand-embossed wooden panel. Largest dimension 730mm. Photograph W Oosthuizen
Click the image for a view of: Soccer Field. JNB. 2007. Oil paint and varnish on hand-embossed wooden panel. Largest dimension 730mm. Photograph W Oosthuizen
Soccer Field. JNB. 2007. Oil paint and varnish on hand-embossed wooden panel. Largest dimension 730mm. Photograph W Oosthuizen
Click the image for a view of: Bettys Bay. December 2006. Oil paint and varnish on hand-embossed wooden panel. 730mm. Photograph W Oosthuizen
Bettys Bay. December 2006. Oil paint and varnish on hand-embossed wooden panel. 730mm. Photograph W Oosthuizen
Posted: 9/6/2007 (5:10:54 AM)


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