‘Present in Absence’ (works on paper by Louise Almon) was exhibited in September 2017 and evolved from the many years she has lived in Johannesburg working from a studio in Fordsburg, a historically significant suburb in this old part of the City of Gold.
Says the artist: ‘The work reflects an attempt to portray the people, the places, the particular light and colours that define the mood, emotion and location of all that became so familiar to me in Fordsburg. I was constantly aware of the transient nature of people living there.
‘The spaces between people, the time and the distance that migratory people traversed in their daily routines, both emotionally and physically, fascinated and disturbed me. There was always the sense of people either being totally present or, much of the time, being absent. This is a displacement uncomfortably obvious in many South African cities, but also something I’ve recognised in other migrant and fractured communities when travelling in Europe, the Americas and other parts of Africa.
‘Each work is a one-off that involves a lengthy and complex layering and mark making process.
‘I start by rolling a layer of thick ink onto a large sheet of glass. I then place individual sheets of 200g Fabriano paper onto the glass surface and ‘lift off’ the ink by gentle hand rubbing and drawing on the reverse side.
‘I repeat the process over and over again with a selection of different colours and mark-making until I’m satisfied that a richly textured base, unique to each sheet of paper, has been achieved. Only then will I finally pull the work together with a simple black line to draw out and define the figures and forms.
For the full article see Habitat #264 March / April 2018
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