Collection: 'World Worlding' - Mark Rautenbach | OPEN 24hrs
21.12.20 - 21.02.21
World Worlding was curated and hosted by OPEN 24hrs in partnership with EBONY/CURATED.
THE GRACE OF ABSTRACTION ASHRAF JAMAL
Abstraction is a misnomer that assumes one is dealing with ideas and not things or events. It is all three – mindful, palpable, eventful. If abstraction has been divorced from the Real, this is because we’ve maintained a hoax that existence precedes essence - or vice versa, depending on one’s point of view – when in fact all of life, all art, fudges more commonly than it is parsed. The Real is an ideology, as it Abstraction. If the former now dominates – it has since Plato – it is because now, most fervently, we ascribe to narrative, story, imputed-expected-received outcomes. Ours is a material age, an age of palpable Ideas, of people as representative of Ideas. It is no accident that we find ourselves avidly and blinkeredly preoccupied with indexes such as race-age-gender- sexual persuasion, at the expense of all else that makes up a life. We subtract rather than abstract, shut out and shut in, the better to solidify what differentiates rather than connects us. Balkanised, separatist, we are fast abandoning the synthetic and synergetic power of abstraction.
There is no rest for the wicked, but grace, astoundingly, is abundant. And where it can best be found is in artworks devoted to abstraction. The exhibition by Mark Rautenbach, staged at OPEN 24 HRS, a building in Cape Town’s design district, could perhaps be considered as abstraction’s divine glue. If Thom is drawn to an atonal polyphonic passion, Soal to mirrored reversible worlds, Morrison to the bounteous splendour of colour – notwithstanding that each of these assessments is deserving of greater insight – can one say that Rautenbach, given his passion for the symmetry of cosmological forms is the ‘in’ for those who resist the indefinite? And is this not why his works might speak most reassuringly for those in need of an anchor?
Titled World Worlding, Rautenbach’s show speaks to a desire for rebirth, a renunciation of secular certainty, a will towards a beneficent, unknowable, yet intuited grace. Like Soal he seeks to make links, pull together dissonant realms, find connections between extremes – above and below. The realms which Thom and Morrison choose to keep ceaselessly in play and boundless, Rautenbach seeks to synthesise. The spherical form – we see this in Soal’s mandala-like coil of silvery bottle caps – is omnipresent in Rautenbach’s show. But if a sphere is a symbol of completion, it is also capable of devouring itself. When perceived statically, it is a benign Idea, when animated it is anything but. In a work titled ‘Putting Myself back Together’, double-sided, made of paper, tape, safety pins, and nylon gut, Rautenbach reminds us of the precarity of all our ideals.
What then is this World Worlding, if not the expression of our most vulnerable longing? How do we put ourselves back together? Is this possible? Or mere wish fulfilment? Surely the desire is enough? Each artist has found their own peculiar way into the boundless realm of abstraction, each in their own way expresses the vulnerability that drives it. But what is indisputable is the desire to reinvent the self, speak each to each, no matter how tenuously, and embrace the grace that lies within abstraction.