HAZARD Gallery presents David Brits’ Sketches for the Cathedral of Johannesburg. This is Brits’ fourth solo exhibition and the artist’s first with the gallery.

The exhibition runs from 9 September to 2 October 2016.

In this show, Brits presents a set of designs for a fictional basilica in South Africa’s economic capital. These include sketches and maquettes of stained glass windows and chasubles, the embroidered robes worn by priests. Works are in the form of large silkscreen prints and glass wall hangings. The series is a synthesis of two modes of working. Here Brits blends his signature use of abstract snake forms and of halftone pattern. Born with partial colour blindness, it is the first time the artist exhibits works using colour.

Sketches for the Cathedral of Johannesburg takes inspiration from a number of aesthetic traditions – from the pre-Columbian art of Central America, to serpent carvings found in Hindu temples of Northern India. In particular, it draws from encounters with great cathedrals in cities such as Rome and Cologne, and the interventions therein by old and modern masters; a line that runs from Michelangelo and Bernini, up through Henri Matisse and more recently, Gerhard Richter.

This body of work is deeply conscious of its own futility – an experimental draft for a grand architectural project that will never be realized. Yet for Brits it is an opportunity to do what only the greatest artists of their time get invited to do; dream up images for a building dedicated to divinity. In this show, Brits contemplates the role of the artist, not only as a translator of personal and inherited history, but as a custodian of the tradition of art itself.

This series will be exhibited alongside two films from the archive of Brits’ late maternal grandfather – John Wood. Wood was one of South Africa’s most prominent reptile experts, snake catchers and snake show-men. Over a period of sixty years Wood caught thousands of snakes, spiders, scorpions, lizards and frogs for both medical research and the development of snake and spider anti venoms. He was a prolific poet, photographer and filmmaker.

During the exhibition, Brits will utilise one of the gallery’s rooms as a studio in which to work and to execute a series of murals.


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