Viviane Sassen’s (b. 1972) Of Mud and Lotus is the artist’s first solo exhibition in Johannesburg and her fourth with Stevenson Gallery. Reflecting on the fact that mud is fundamental for the growth of the lotus, the exhibition engages in a conversation on transformation, procreation and fecundity, all elements traditionally ascribed to the idea of the feminine. In this new presentation, a series of experimental collages and unique hand-coloured pieces invite the viewer to contemplate images in which abstraction and performance intertwine.
By exuding a distinct sense of colour and texture, the work hints at associative references that allow for layered readings and responses. Nothing is what it seems at first glance. Common sights in the series include dense clusters of fungi and spores which are reminiscent of the proliferating living cells; and organic materials such as eggs, milk, flowers and natural dyes that correlate to the imagery of female figures and provide a sense of their sinuosity in the natural world.
Above all, Sassen’s new works feature seemingly abstract compositions: mundane objects and apparently incidental motifs are transformed with collage, filters and streaks of pigment to the point of where their original forms lie unrecognisable below the artist’s interventions. Born in Amsterdam, Sassen’s studies in fashion design, followed by photography at the Utrecht School of the Arts (HKU) and Ateliers Arnhem, contribute to her distinctive style and unique perception on both natural and man-made worlds.
Viviane Sassen, Of Mud and Lotus, until 12 May, Stevenson Gallery, Johannesburg.
For more, visit www.stevenson.basikgroup.com.
1. Vivianne Sassen, Ra, 2017. Digital print on EHM Epson matt paper, 125 x 100 cmEdition of 5 + 2AP’s. Courtesy of the artist and Stevenson.