Koooooos’ Debut Photographic Exhibition brings out the Real in Surreal - Photography by  - Koos Groenewald
Photography by Koos Groenewald

Koooooos’ Debut Photographic Exhibition brings out the Real in Surreal

Sometimes, in a dream, (naked ).

 

Eve.

 

She is like a Palindrome, a word or sentence when spelled backwards,

more often than not, becomes newly meaningful.

But sometimes, Eve is just Eve.

Her hairless body, her headless body-double,

in a warm, black-and-white bushy dream.

Stereo-Stare all you like, Bob. 🙂

Are you having a Rorschach field day yet?

 

Pink-red Pinhole Sunsets.

Black Boys in Pink.

Pink Girls in Black Frames.

Butts and Nipples, stand.

 

I put my thing down, flip it and reverse it [1]

Ti esrever dna ti pilf, nwod gniht ym tup [2]

 

Wall to Wall, Orange, and Oranges, butting up just so.

Floppy Cocks, Shaggy Carpets and Forest Clearings.

Rocky beaches Gwano Birds and Marble Busts.

 

Repeat Patterns Repeat.

Pictures Pun.

– Reads the accompanying text to Koooooos’ debut photographic exhibition Palindroom held in collaboration with Lemon.

 

[1] Taken from Missy Elliott’s “Work It” lyrics.

[2] Also from “Work It”, it is important to note that this verse is the previous verse written in reverse.

‘Overthinking’, 2018

And in taking the above into consideration, the artist’s motive begins to unfold. Palindrome, Palindroom…. bear with me, all will be revealed in due time. Self-described as “Somewhere between a photo show and a giant sculpture” the show presented as a visual juxtaposition in some respects as odd pairings were brought together to live in a single installation (the show was comprised of various installations). However, when observed with intent it becomes obvious that the pairings were in fact not odd at all and served to complement one another in terms of aesthetic considerations among other reasons. This can be seen in either pairings of similar tonal values and or similar visual patterns. The use of similar patterns is reflected in works such as Deadringers (2018). This way of image curation, show curation and object curation is something that I have not observed with classically trained photographers or fine artists. No, multidisciplinarian Koos Groenewald who is known for his graphic design practice approaches his curatorial strategy with an edge that indicates his nature as a designer in many respects.

Giant cats…three breasted nudes; fusing everyday observations, Palindroom explored the tensions found between moments, bodies and objects through the experimental use of materials – “breaking from the wall and screen image standard”. New narratives immerge between Koooooos’ odd pairings and non-obvious images that are however related. This is referred to as “carefully constructed happy accidents”. In this, it is clear that each outcome of the show was meticulously planned, each facet placed with meaning, playing on the concept of a palindrome.

‘Haai Felicia’, 2018

A palindrome then, as mentioned in the accompanying poem to the exhibition, is a word or phrase that is read the same way forwards as backwards. The “droom” in the title of the artist’s show then speaks to a dream spelt in Afrikaans. “Like in a dream, everything could seem just a little off. Putting the real in surreal”. Conceptually the show struck a remarkable beauty with each element seamlessly intersecting – dreams are connected to surrealism and photography is perhaps one of the most surreal art expressions currently in use by artists; due to its ability to shape perceptions and bring forth that which the lenser wishes. Not always a truth as was once believed.

Feelings and or experiences that were emphasised within the show were that of delirious sleepwalking – intersections of a daydream and a nightmare. Deja-vu – more is to come the artist predicts with a sense of clairvoyance.

The images of Palindroom have been captured all over the world and include locations such as France, Zanzibar, Tokyo, Oyster Bay, St Lucia, Johannesburg, Pretoria and Cape Town. Compiling the body of work took Koos almost two years with most of the conceptual human/body work created in the six-month period prior to the opening of the show. Sharing some insight on the nude photography that formed a part of the show Koos states, “I decided from the beginning that if I was asking people to be this brave I should do the same. So, everyone I shot would also shoot me back. The ‘self-portraits’ of me are actually shot by the subjects in the paired images. This was important for me as it needed to be equal and it was a very important learning experience for both sides”.

Installation shot of ‘Chocolate 1’, 2018

In my interview with the artist his more humorous self steps in when he responds to the question of how his images act as “a selection of asymmetrical reflections, odd pairs, daydreams, nightmares and happy accidents” by stating, “in the way that they can be a bit boring and sexy at the same time? They feel dreamy but in a way where not all dreams are pleasant, or come true”.

Koos explains that though the project started off rather loosely the results were due to his personal explorations with the photographic medium and trying to find his voice with this form of expression. As his project grew so did his confidence and his off-kilter observations; from here he started not simply documenting but staging what he wished to photograph. “Although the images are varied and eclectic, I always tried to keep a sense of humour and [a] certain graphic style as the golden thread”.

The sculptural elements that formed a part of the show act as an indicator to Koos’ future interests and mediums he wishes to explore, “I like including breadcrumbs and little tests of other styles and mediums that I want to explore next, and to see how people react”.

The grand message then was “to put your thing down, flip it and reverse it”, to experiment and to remember that “cats don’t still, or do anything you want them to”.

To get your hands on these otherworldly sexy/not sexy prints check out the catalogue here.

‘Hotdogman & Shaddowlicker’, 2018
‘Deadringers’, 2018
‘Jack & Jill’, 2018
‘Three Sisters’, 2018
‘Crying just because’, 2018

‘Yawn, 2018

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