To celebrate the season, the Venter Gallery is having an unprecedented Client Appreciation sale with 20% off everything in the Gallery and Studios from Friday, December 21st thru Sunday, January 6th. This is your opportunity to indulge yourself with that piece you've always wanted. Stop by the gallery today!
The Venters wish to acknowledge and thank the following people, connected to Salt Spring Island:
Our children Katsky, Oscar and Cami Venter and their partners
Gary Martinson, Michelle Venter and Michael Gruendel for their
understanding, patience, support and assistance.
Margaret and Martyn Day for making our first visit to New York possible.
Robin Relph for his loyal collecting and exposing our work to international markets,
including Haunch of Venison (London), Ben Brown Gallery (London) and Bonhams (London).
The Vortex members for the fun in establishing Vortex as a Co-op Gallery.
John and Roberta Stoker for helping to take Vortex to the next level.
James Kok and Claire Maisonneuve for helping to establish our studios.
Dr. Eva Seidner and Michael Kedar for enabling us to have our first exposure at the Toronto Art Fair.
John Lefebvre for his generous support and collecting of our art.
Judy Cushman and Bob Quick for their support and assistance with public gallery exhibitions.
Garry and Carol Leach for their tireless support and exposing our work to public galleries.
The art lovers and collectors of Salt Spring Island for their support of our work and
the Arts in general on Salt Spring.
Razali May for representing our work in Ganges over the last couple of years.
All the Salt Spring Island Galleries and Arts Administrators for
helping to build a clientele and presence for Salt Spring Island artists.
Anthony Matthews for joining us as Director
and getting the Venter Gallery off the ground.
New Exhibition – Venter gallery
November 3rd, 2018 – December 3rd, 2018
Join us for the Opening on Saturday November, 17th, from 4 – 6 PM.
The Venter Gallery is excited to announce an exhibition of selected work from Deon Venter's series Last Supper / The Order of Things and Kathy Venter's series Metanarrative / Life. Don't miss viewing some of the internationally acclaimed work of the Venter's exhibited in New York, Chicago, London, Los Angeles, Miami, Seattle, San Francisco, Zug, Toronto, Montreal Vancouver, Johannesburg and Cape Town. Please join us for a glass of wine with the Venters at the gallery in Grace Point Square, Saturday evening 17th November from 4 - 6 pm.
How do qualities like style, medium, form and content inform an art work? This is just one of the questions Kathy Venter’s works ask of the viewer. The relationship between a work of art and identity has been extensively explored, but not without its challenges. The characterisitics that define a person’s identity are extensive and stretch far beyond gender and sexuality. Using a hollow, hand-pinch method, Kathy’s life-size sculptures explore how representations of the female body are too often burdened by a grid of knowledge and interpretation which rarely escapes the clutches of hegemonic discourse, resulting in portrayals of the female subject as fetishes. As their names suggest, the life-size figures from her Coup D’Oeil series are frozen in contemplative glances that seem to draw attention away from the body. While their nakedness is there in all its unidealized beauty, the viewer is captivated by a female gaze, and compelled to ponder what has caught their attention. Conversely, a naked woman arched over, and in the process of drawing, stares down at her creation intently, evading the spectator’s gaze. By baring her artistic soul as well as her body, the figure reveals herself as a woman, but most importantly an artist. The figures in this show are painted in a polychrome glaze, inspired by Kathy’s experience with ceremonial body-painting by the Xhosa culture in South Africa where she grew up. The resulting sculptures seem to metaphorically shed their skin – or rather emerge from them – as they reveal themselves with a discursive power that transforms and reconfigures the contours of the fixed social hierarchies in which we live. Moreover, her works move beyond subject matter, and engage with aspects of artistic technique to examine how the ways in which an art object is crafted is also mediated by values and assumptions about the medium. Clay figures are as old as marble ones, but the fragility, and the added precision needed to mold and then fire pottery into the human form, makes it one of the lesser used media. By evoking the ancient use of clay in Greek Tanagra, and terracotta figures of the Etruscans in Italy, Kathy’s works transports the viewer through time.
Deon Venter’s works explore the human propensity to separate entities, particularly ones that stand in opposition to each other. Recognizing the conscious dissolution of line in the colour compositions of the Impressionists, and all those who paved the way for abstract works of art, the paintings of this series play with the effect of juxtaposing conceptually different approaches. In Scrubbed Out, the references to perspective in the walls and windows of the space are disrupted by the overlapping grid. What predominates as visual sign, in a work whose iconic meaning traditionally resides in the religious theme of Christ’s Last Supper, is a Mondrain-esque abstraction. The figures of the Last Supper are almost indiscernible, as is the perspectival space of the room, while the three-dimensionality of the work resides in a chair that seemingly floats before the matrix of lines. In paintings like Last Supper (Bone) and Last Supper (Noir), colour and texture are combined to create stand alone compositions that are atmospheric in nature. By superimposing a succession of grids on the paintings, Venter dismantles any fundamental code that precludes two opposing aesthetics. In the upper part of the canvases, an overlapping grid acts perspectivally to create a three-demensionality, drawing the eye deep into the space. However, it is an inversion of the iconic representation that would normally have the eye follow a vertical trajectory that begins at the bottom of the canvas. Instead perspective is used to draw the eye down into the upper recesses. The perspectival effect quickly vanishes, neutralized by the remaining matrix that predominates. In Deon’s Order of Things series, the pure experience of order is dismantled to allow for a different way of viewing the world. Playing with texture and colour, these works bring new and exciting meaning to the Readymade, by illustrating how something as commonplace as a barcode can have stunning aesthetic appeal when it is given a painterly quality.
by Michael Coughlin, Ph.D.
Recently, I’ve been thinking about how titles influence the way we look at paintings. I cannot help but feel that, in many instances, titles are the artist’s concession to the viewer’s need for meaning and not an expression of a particular intention. At least that is what many artists tell me. Others admit that the title is their own attempt to make sense of the process that led to the creation of that particular piece. A translation into words of what first appeared as an image, or a colour, or a tentative brush stroke on an empty canvas. Making sense of an intention they did not know they had. The need to make sense of the stirrings of our internal world is strong. Titles carry authority: they are an expression of an author’s mind, of their conscious intention, much as the artistic work is an expression of what lies outside conscious intentionality. Perhaps we can think of the title as a passage or a conduit between unconscious motivation and conscious intentionality; a portal into another world; a gateway to the imagination.
When I first saw Deon Venter’s painting, I immediately thought about the title's (“In the Avatar”) significance to the scene unfolding before my eyes. The painting is based on a real location, the Avatar Forest, near Port Renfrew, on the West Coast of Vancouver Island, so I knew the title had a literal meaning. Perhaps here, I thought, in Freud's (apocryphal) words, "a cigar is just a cigar." But I knew about the origins of the word "avatar" in Hindu religion, as a manifestation of the divine in human form, a divinity embodied. The metaphoric connotations of the name are obvious. Yet, there are no human forms in this painting, no incarnated gods, only an agglomeration, a thick impasto of vertical and horizontal lines, semi-circles, oval shapes, squiggles and scratches densely layered over the surface of the canvas. Taken together, these shapes and their colours—a rich combination of browns, green and blues, sprinkled with red, pink and orange dabs—convey the sumptuousness (the thickness of the paint, the corrugated surfaces) and majesty of a forest, a living and growing forest in all its physical grandeur. There is no human grandeur here, no divinity incarnated, but the vastness of nature— Nature's spirit, embodied in the trees and given expression in the semi-circles and oval shapes punctuating the canvas: an arcane language of undecipherable symbols.
More important than the image represented (or abstracted is perhaps a better description ), for me, is the experience this painting makes available. Looking at this forest of rich colours and thick textures, I am transported into the experience of “being” in the forest—as a part of the forest’s "being" and as a "being" that is separate from it—a feeling that is both exhilarating and unsettling. To enter the avatar, then, in the way that Venter’s painting conceives of it, is to enter another body, to be re-embodied, which is also a way to have access to another, more intense way of being. What are bodies but material containers for our “being,” for the stirrings of our internal world? The forest as body, as avatar, another space where these stirrings, this awareness of being alive and fully present in the world, can be experienced in all their breathtaking and troubling intensity. Now that I am “in the avatar,” I sense the painting’s (the forest’s) heavy presence, its motionless materiality, but also its vitality and exuberance, what literary critic Gaston Bachelard calls the forest’s “intimate immensity” or the “immediate immensity of its depth,” which is also the feeling that there is “something else to be expressed besides what is offered for objective expression.” (The Poetics of Space, 186) This “something else” is the “sense of mystery” that, according to philosopher David E. Cooper, permeates our experience of being in the world, of becoming part of an emergent world we cannot comprehend, as it escapes “objective expression," but we still feel at home in.
So the emergence of a world —the presencing of anything for experience—cannot be explained or described. It is a mysterious upsurge, a coming to be, from a source that is itself mysterious. (David E. Cooper, Senses of Mystery: Engaging with Nature and the Meaning of Life, 50)
Venter’s “In the Avatar,” with its tangled mess of lines and squiggles, long and short brush strokes, thickly layered and scratched surfaces and arcane symbols captures the “mysterious upsurge,” the “coming to be” of the world that Cooper so beautifully describes in these lines. This is what an emergent world looks like and feels like. This is what "being" in the presence of the divine (the original meaning of "avatar") really means: to be enclosed, embodied, bathed in the source of things; to be gathered and then released into being, a being that is as physical and material as it is mysterious and ineffable.
In Cooper’s words (and Venter’s imagination) to be "In the Avatar,” is “To experience this gathering … [this] mystery of emergence, an epitome of that larger coming to presence that is the human world as a whole.” (Cooper, 65)
Sometimes, titles, like the paintings they name, really are portals to the imagination.
Reprinted with permission of the author. Click here to visit Nuria Belastegui's blog.