To process being the real work
To not being about product
To never being finished
To not knowing
To finding an answer every day
To the everyday
To art that’s useful
To placing yourself in the middle
To the body as a way of knowing the world and others
To the fight for acceptance of difference
To blood, sweat and tears
To the fight
To transmutation
To mutation
To adaptability
To humility
Because of our smallness
Because humans matter most
Because of the earth
To finding moves during the dance
To never leaving the mosh pit
To risk, intuition and play
To following the gut and to taking ‘punches to the gut’
To being thrown every single day
To indescribable joy in moments of transcendence and intense purpose
To having something to say and letting it burn
To setting it alight

blank is pleased to announce Thrown, a solo exhibition by Belinda Blignaut. This is the artist’s second show with the gallery, following on from Blown held in 2013. First emerging as an artist in the early 1990s, Blignaut was part of the generation of young Johannesburg-based conceptual and experimental artists whose work served as a commentary on the shifting ground of South Africa’s social and political landscape at that time.

Throughout her practice, Blignaut has engaged with issues around transformation, with the body at the centre of all. Using readily available and everyday materials to process her immediate surroundings, she hopes to translate the ways in which human beings adapt; a quiet, visceral investigation into life and the creative process. Surfacing in all of Blignaut’s work is an active resistance to the effects of institutionalised culture and an insistence on the urgency for protest and change.

Recently, her interest in materiality as a metaphor for psychological transformation has manifested in a new series of clay vessels; hand-built shapes sculpted in an entirely intuitive process. Digging her own wild clay from riverbeds and using plant ash as glaze, Blignaut seeks complex surfaces, unpredictable texture and ‘error’; her use of unprocessed materials allowing for chance events and natural reactions in the kiln. At times, these unknowns can cause small explosions, melting or breaking the objects, the remnants of which are often cut and joined to make ‘an other’ whole.

Working with others, with a specific focus on people with special needs, is as much part of Blignaut’s practice as the making of her own work. She has a registered nonprofit organisation and together with psychologists, works with all ages, facilitating expression through production while documenting research in clay therapy. From these processes arose two performative pieces: “Working From The Inside” and “Fire From The Inside”. In “Working From The Inside” , the artist works from the inside of her large-scale vessels as she builds them, shaping the clay around her own body, responding to her own physical limits and the limits of her material. In “Fire From The Inside” she sculpts around a work as it’s being fired from within. According to Blignaut, these intense and immersive experiences are situated somewhere between wrestling and allowing the object to find its own personality, working from the inside and outside simultaneously.

Belinda Blignaut was born in 1968 in Humansdorp, South Africa. Her first solo exhibition, Antibody, was held at Everard Read Contemporary in 1993. Subsequently, she exhibited at the 1994 Sao Paulo and 1995 Africus Johannesburg Biennales. After a decade-long hiatus, Blignaut returned to her practice in 2009 and participated in a few local projects as well as two international exhibitions, No Government No Cry (2011) and Newtopia: The State of Human Rights (2012). In 2010, she presented the installation Stealing the Words at YOUNGBLACKMAN. In 2012 she curated the group show, A Shot To The Arse, at the Michaelis Galleries, Cape Town. Twenty years after her first solo exhibition, blank projects hosted BLOWN, her second solo. Recently, she has shown in group exhibitions including CLAY/GROUND at Cavalli Estate, curated by Roelof Van Wyk (2016-17), and Booknesses at UJ Art Gallery (2017). Also in 2017, Blignaut performed “Working From The Inside” at the Edge Of Wrong Festival in collaboration with Jacques van Zyl and Chris Morgan Wilson.

For more information about the artist, click here.