Business Day Review 2005
THE title of ROBERT SLINGSBY’s latest exhibition captures concisely
aspects of the social commentary embedded in his new works. Dubbed POWER
HOUSE (at Bell-Roberts Contemporary Gallery until January 7), it’s an
eloquent protest against the marginalisation of the forgotten people of
has been recording the petroglyph rock engravings in the region for almost
25 years. While his initial interest was with these designs, he later
became fascinated by the Nama people and their heritage and placement in
To illustrate his discontent about the Nama’s unwritten history, he’s
chosen the shack as emblematic for the plight of a “lost” people. His
installations of a rusty old bed and an indoor scene full of dilapidated artifacts
like old shoes, tins and battered kettles collected from the
region, make a political statement for the disadvantaged and displaced.
But the real artistic merit of Power House is Slingsby’s outstanding
bronze sculptures. The nuts, bolts and panels of these tin shacks have an
intensity that transcends the medium. His smaller Open Door series scales
down with a similar look and feel, while Behind Bars pays testimony to
inhumanity with its row of tiny houses perched next to the fence of an
opulent golf course.
This artist views the homestead as a conceptual piece made from a
collection of found objects — “living, breathing installations,
defining who we are”. And here he’s attempted to capture the colours,
textures and influence of the petroglyphs in the surfaces of his work.
“For me, this potency has continued into the shack homes and this is
what I am trying to convey in my art today. The monotones of my canvases
and dotted texture of the surfaces is designed to convey the potency of
the petroglyphs through the visual association.”
Slingsby didn’t want Power House to be an elitist showcase and his
assortment of pieces are accessible on different levels. As such, it’s a
powerful and direct artistic statement that questions issues of belonging,
identity and history.
He has just returned from the Bahamas where he was invited to participate in a group exhibition hosted by
Princess Azmat Guirey.
In March next year Slingsby will present a solo exhibition in
. This is his first exhibition in Cape Town
to 'Power house' Art overview