VERTOEF / LINGER is Gouws’ fifth one man show at the KZNSA. Before Durban it went to the Pretoria Art Museum, and after Durban it will go to the Irma Stern Museum in Cape Town. He previously had one man shows in Chicago, Pretoria, Bloemfontein, Johannesburg, Kimberley, Cape Town, Grahamstown, Oudtshoorn, Potchefstroom and Stellenbosch.
Why do I paint the way I do? Why do I paint all these rooms without people, these mirrors, these feet? I don’t know. What do my paintings mean? I don’t know.
As an artist and as a philosopher I have learnt that there is no verbal equivalent for what happens visually in a painting. Moreover, the artist’s words carry no special authority. I tread gingerly when making an artist’s statement. Whatever I say is speculative and tentative. The silence or muteness I strive for in my paintings would be lost if they suggested a meaning which can be captured directly in words.
Meditation – lingering in an awareness of the here and now – plays a large role in my life. To me the mood of my paintings suggests something between the meditative and a sense of failure, perhaps abjection. Had they been only meditative I don’t think viewers would have found them awkward, uncanny or even desolate, in the way they do.
Art works don’t simply arise from the artist’s personal experience, but always also from a dialogue with other artists. My paintings are a modest salute to painters like Vermeer, Piero, Morandi, Arikha, and how they capture light, space and stillness. Although many of the artists I admire, like Goya, Guston and Kentridge, engage with the problems and terrors of the social and political world, I can’t emulate them – the place my work arises from is too different.
Read the opening night statement by Janet Solomon here.