I went out last Sunday to spend a glorious autumn day out of town at Nirox where nature, fresh air, good friends, and happy times met. Located in the Cradle on the Kromdraai Rd between the Rhino and Lion Park and Sterkfontein, the Foundation was established by the art philanthropist Benji Liebmann and is used primarily for artists’ residencies – so is only open to the public when there is an exhibition at week-ends from 10 to 5. Currently there is a great sculpture exhibition curated by Mary- Jane Darroll. A number of works on this show were part of The Rainbow Nation, an exhibition of South African sculptures held in The Hague last year. Hence the title of Nirox’s exhibition: After the Rainbow Nation. So in addition to the works shown in Holland, there are several site specific works, and several that are placed to speak to, and with, the surrounding landscape setting. For example on a purely visual level the orange red aloes form a counterpoint with Gordon Froud’s Cone Virus – large scale orange ‘traffic cones ‘ of mild steel . Angus Taylor who works with notions of deflation and inflation adds further contradiction by using the hard tensile medium of bronze to represent crumpled collapsing forms – like Disproportions of Deflation, Artist II which images bodiless clothes lying in water.
Deborah Bell’s large scale work Artemis with Dog I – III is powerful and monumental and dominates its partially enclosed stone -walled setting. Myth has it that Artemis or Diana the virgin goddess of hunting was spied on by Acteaon while she was bathing – not a popular move with a virgin goddess. As punishment she turned him into a stag and then set her dogs on him. (Titian’s great late work of Acteaon as a half-man half-stag being devoured by dogs has always been for me, one of art history’s most powerful and tragic images.) The dogs in Bell’s sculpture are wonderfully evocative and as they are shown running up the incline towards a sculpture of a lone male figure (Beezy Bailey’s Peaceman), the tragic outcome of this virgin goddess’s ire seems to be implied.
So there is still time to get out to this exhibition which has been extended till the end of July. This Sunday 2nd June, Momo Gallery is hosting the second concert in the Jazz in the Cradle series and the good news is it seems there are still tickets available. The gates open at 10, the food vendors and bars open at 11.30 (sadly no picnics), and the main act, the tribute to Zim Ngqawana starts at 14.45.