Two artists with an abiding passion for the wild are currently sharing the wall space of Everard Read Gallery in Joburg.
Painter Keith Joubert and sculptor Dylan Lewis have come together for a joint exhibition that showcases their respective studies of the proverbial wild and fantastic spirit of Africa.
Joubert has been living in Botswana’s Makgadikgadi region for the past four years.
The area’s unspoiled natural beauty has inspired his collection of paintings.
The works are the result of studious time spent immersed in that vast mesic palm savanna.
The artist made himself one with the fauna that populate the lagoons and mopane veld he calls home.
This has leant a meditative quality and mysterious touch to his pallet. His motifs thrive on darkness too.
However, this is not darkness as ignorance or Conradian evil, but a spirit of the unchartered, the unknown.
The resulting enchanting menace of mystery in nature is not more encapsulated than in a painting titled Sausage Flower Season.
It’s a painting of a leopard stalking the banks of a water?hole in the dead of night.
Joubert lifts his images up above the easy clichés of cheap illustration.
He masters visual tensions and an expressive use of colour and surface design.
The interspersion of thick globs of paint and thinly layered washes of colour make for a delightful optical game for viewers.
He understands the use of depth, distance, viscosity and transparency as unique qualities of his chosen medium.
Even when dealing with the portrayal of humans, Joubert is able to visually equalise them with the rest of creation.
This is particularly apparent in Fresh Produce, an oil on canvas that depicts a couple walking home, the man is holding chickens tied together on a stick, like a bouquet of sorts.
The people are one with their environment.
Apart from their underlying comment on nature and ideas of keeping it protected against human pillage, the body of work here is also a celebration.
Joubert and Lewis have put together a visual feast of paint and bronze.
Lewis’ sculptural works also have a graceful strength about them.
He manages to balance accurate anatomical observations with a highly expressive rendering. His lines are robust and self assured.
After spending the last while creating pieces that focused on mythologised human forms, he has dedicated this show to wild cats, especially the leopard, which he articulates with unquestionable authority.
The strongest piece in the collection depicts a cheetah attacking a group of guinea?fowl.
The bronze sculpture carries the chaotic scene with beautiful dynamism.
The cat’s energetic pounce and the reflexive scattering of the birds is told with the necessary drama.
This is an enjoyable exhibition by two artists working with traditional media.
It probably won’t meet the taste demands of an audience weaned on digital media, however, their facility in their chosen media is remarkable.