Barend de Wet


30.09.10 – 28.11.10


During a career spanning almost thirty years, Barend de Wet has operated with stunning agility in the interface between contemporary art, material culture and social networks. He is everywhere and nowhere at once, constantly testing relationships and perceptions. A consummate aesthete, his oeuvre has encompassed traditional media, craft skills and fanatical hobbyism, as well as productive collaborations.

Underacknowledged by the contemporary art historical canon, Barend de Wet’s influence on contemporary practice is pervasive and innate to many positions in current art. His uncompromising attitude to his practice was exemplified in a radical space-clearing gesture: a 1996 postcard work, art is life, announced his ‘resignation’ from the art world. Many took this to mean a resignation from art-making altogether but as De Wet cannily suggested, art-making and the art world are two entirely different games (Smith : 2010).

But now De Wet is ‘back’.

SMAC Art Gallery is proud to present GREEN, Barend De Wet’s first major solo exhibition and official return to the gallery in more than a decade.

De Wet has purposefully and mischievously questioned the boundaries and classification of artistic practice throughout his career. GREEN incorporates his current preoccupations, namely knitting and his own colour palette. For De Wet, the process and artifacts of knitting are akin to a combined form of painting and sculpture, writes Smith (2010). In the artist’s words: “brei maak jou vry” (trans.’knitting sets you free’).  For this exhibition, De Wet has also employed many of his strategies of re-presentation and reframing within his object-based practice, as previous familiar sculptures are reworked and re-coloured.

The exhibition is accompanied by an artist’s monograph, written by Kathryn Smith.