Main Gallery

Karel Nel

Observe

8 October – 14 November, 2015

Karel Nel studio image Dish, pastel, metallic dust and dry pigment on bonded fibre fabric, 180 x 180 cm Studio as Observatory, pastel, metallic dust and dry pigment on bonded fibre fabric, 180 x 180 cm Stepping up to the Speed of Light, pastel, metallic dust and dry pigment on bonded fibre fabric, 180 x 180 cm Enfolded Space, pastel, metallic dust and dry pigment on bonded fibre fabric, 180 x 180 cm



What we see here on the walls is a set of magnificent drawings which partly describe two different interior spaces. The familiar space is Nel’s studio, which is also his home, housing his extensive collection of Southern African, Oceanic and Asian artefacts. Some of these objects make an appearance in the drawings themselves; they play the part of accompanying presences, moving freely in and out of the picture space. There are other presences too, suggested by weightless thought forms, a motif of floating transparent shapes hovering mysteriously.

The second space belongs to the circular structures of the 17th - 19th Century Observatories he has visited in his role as resident artist for the COSMOS Project. Helsinki’s historic Observatory designed by Carl Engel in the 1830’s is the inspiration for the new space to emerge in these works. Ascending stairways or steps lead to the observation platform from where the night skies are studied. There are sculpturally shaped trap doors, with props to keep them open, old wooden floors, and in the upper section we can glimpse the stars shimmering from a richly pigmented sky.