Fluid | Stephen Allwright

Wed, February 28, 2018 to Sat, March 31, 2018
  • #19 confrontation and chandelier, 2017, Ink on Fabriano, 30 x 21cm
  • #18 potted screamers and vehicle, 2017, Ink on Fabriano, 30 x 21cm
  • #42 hiltop generator, 2017, Ink on Fabriano, 37 x 28cm
  • #23 two youths with beret and still-life, 2017, Ink on Fabriano, 30 x 21cm
  • #31 man in chainmail with mobile, 2017, Ink on Fabriano, 32 x 22cm
  • #22 mother and child, 2017, Ink on Fabriano, 30 x 21cm

SMITH is excited to introduce Fluid, an expansive new collection of works from visual artist Stephen Allwright.

This is Allwright’s second solo exhibition following 2017’s Inclusions at SMITH. Allwright’s work was included in SMITH’s selection for both the 2017 Joburg Art Fair and the 2017 AKAA Art & Design Fair in Paris and, most recently, at the Investec Cape Town Art Fair in February 2018.

The collection in ink, graphite crayon, pencil and watercolour on paper is drawn from over 100 works compiled by Allwright during a characteristically prolific period in late 2017 and early 2018.

The title refers to the artist’s sense that nothing is cast in stone nor unchangeable. The fluidity inherent in everything - whether concerning gender, current affairs or sexuality - makes attempting any sort of definitive statement like trying to archive the incomprehensible.

To this end, Allwright’s figures are captured in the midst of movement or flux, complete with the requisite urgency and impetus but without any clear departure point or destination.

Allwright’s autobiographical enquiry into the “nonsense of the categorical” pointedly addresses the idea of sexual identity and gender fluidity. Allwright inhabits his figures, whether male or female, by doing so leaving his masculinity at the studio door.

“In order to prepare myself for work, I need to become fluid and shed how I define myself. The discomfort of this process is counterbalanced by my compulsion to draw, make or create and to follow the line to see where it leads. I have various themes in mind but I am not interested in herding my ideas toward a particular point or editing out stuff that may not conform to these themes. The pictures that I make are, by and large, non-linear narratives straying into ambiguous amalgams of memory, mark-making, current issues, myth, etcetera.”

Allwright’s scope covers a wider interrogation into the idea of real versus fake news and our increasingly rickety epistemological foundations for the gathering of knowledge.

“I am angered and saddened - though not surprised - by the grotesque displays of rabble rousing and divisive rhetoric that has found its way into public spaces, and also by my complicity by virtue of being a human. Some of the work I make speaks to this.”

Fluid will show from 28 February 2018 until 31 March 2018. For press enquiries and to request further material, please contact Jana Terblanche at jana@smithstudio.co.za.