RIDERS – Vortex Gallery, Salt Spring Island, 2002

Press Release

“In an age in which it seems impossible to create happy endings, the world of the imagination is a place into which the long arm of the law is unable to reach.  This idea – the opposition of imagination to reality; which is also of course, the opposition of art to politics – is of great importance, because it reminds us that we are not helpless; that to dream is to have power.”

 Salman Rushdie, Imaginary Homelands

In the work of Deon Venter the original purpose of the artist, as maker of images, has always retained it’s primary function.  The image has to, first of all, stand on its own, therefore it has to be powerful enough to imprint and haunt the memory, begging personal interpretation.

In the “Prisoner of Calypso” (Odysseus), an aging horseman, struts across a stylized landscape of gold leaf, set in either twilight or sunrise.  If there has ever been a period in need of heroes, it is the present time, albeit a “Don Quixote”.  The image of a horseman, in our time, is so surprising, that it seems essential to revisit it.  The viewer is not immediately drawn to symbolic or metaphorical references of the equestrian subject in painting, sculpture or life, or the underlying relevance of this theme in our present time.  This is not the idealized hero of history, but the hero of the imagination.

Venter’s work always maintains some ambiguity and contradiction to encourage a wide range of referential and interpretational possibilities.  Sometimes informed by the spirit of French Romanticism, or the decaying art of Pompeii, it, however, addresses contemporary socio-political concerns.

Venter’s extensive experience in the use and teaching of traditional and experimental mediums and cross disciplines is well evidenced in these paintings.  His materials include bitumen, alkyds, clay and glazes and metallic leaf.