Growing to another sun | Anna van der Ploeg

Wed, August 1, 2018 to Sat, August 25, 2018

Anna van der Ploeg returns to SMITH with Growing to another sun, her second solo exhibition following several group shows and a residency in Japan.

The collection is a multi-disciplinary offering featuring oil painting monotypes, carved wooden blocks and sculpture.

Since her first solo show at SMITH, 2016’s Arc and Toll, Van der Ploeg has been part of numerous group shows at the gallery, most recently Close Encounters in July this year, and participated in Artist in Residence programs in Japan, France and India. Her work ‘The last thing still to grow’ appeared at the 2018 Investec Cape Town Art Fair.

This show is related to her first in that the fictional beekeeper character is again present as a protagonist within the stories she tells. The works follow figures in interplay, a plot in which thorn, wall and stools are characters with shifting roles.

Drawing from the Mokuhanga woodcut printmaking style, Van der Ploeg turns her attention to the woodblock itself and the tablet’s sculptural potential, elevating them from functional role-players to finished works in their own right.

On the combined monotypes, Van der Ploeg has adhered cotton mesh fabric over the surface of the painting, adding texture and - in the instances the mesh is dyed - a veneer of colour to the works. The glue, or Nori, is made from a paste of sushi rice.This chine-collé method acts as a veil, gently obscuring the behaviour of the figures depicted in a series of imagined scenes.

Though a beekeeper herself, the uniformed people she paints are not her but actors who perform the scenes.

Of this the potential of this persona, Van der Ploeg says:

“Beekeeping has a symbolic and ritualistic quality that appeals to me. It’s a synecdoche in a box - a microcosm of our world in some ways yet it is easy to study and understand. There are so many parallels to society. And then there is the language around it. The word “keeper” is particularly telling and speaks to the role.”

On choosing to depict figures that are not clearly identifiable, she says:

“The figures are ambiguous and androgynous. If this collection was a story I’ve focussed more on plot than character. More “what are these people doing?” than “who are they?” for now. It’s about the intention and what is going on between these two characters and how power goes back and forth between them as they navigate through the scenes.”.