“Growing up on the Cape Flats I often found myself living amongst the residue… Whether it was commercial, industrial or social detritus, its presence was formative. ”
Giving new life to discarded material and combining this with the painting of human figures and familiar packaging, visual artist Vivien Kohler reflects on socio-economic issues. With faith, hope and overcoming difficulties as the foundational inspiration for his work, he attempts to restructure the residue he witnessed growing up through his works.
The human condition is the larger theme at the centre of his artistic practice. Previously exploring our ability to dream, the perspective from which he depicts his figures directly brought across his fascination with what happens when we close our eyes or imagine a life beyond our current circumstances. The process of photographing models for these dreamlike paintings “allowed the process to prescribe the image.”. The power of his paintings comes in their ability to draw you in, taking you on a dreamlike journey with the figures he paints.
His more recent work stems from the idea of Pareidolia, referring to the ability to see a specific image within a vague pattern. Kohler transfers this concept to we try to make sense of the random patterns and events that occur in our everyday lives. “It is a lucid dream state if you will. Imagining possibilities. Our entire world is constructed this way. From the microscopic to the macro universe, sense has been made out of darkness.”
The spectrum from deficiency to authenticity is discovered along the journey of being. Aspects of the persona gleaned from the volume of time. Each page an individual. Each letter an idiosyncrasy. Characters discovered along the opera of life, each playing a role of a lifetime. – Vivien Kohler
The title of his solo show Clay Opera references the idea of life as a stage and people as actors made of clay, playing their part in relation to one another. Each one of us plays a specific part which fits into a larger story. Mimicking this, each artwork in the exhibition has its own story which is connected to the overall narrative of the exhibition. “The exhibition space then becomes the stage upon which my characters are free to tell their stories as the viewer experiences the opera.”.
His exhibition on until the 24th of June at the Sulger-Buel Lovell Gallery in London.