I thought you may be interested to hear more about my new solo show at the Afropolitan Gallery.
Johannesburg’s newest art gallery – the Afropolitan Gallery at Victoria Yards – has opened with a stunning exhibition of new works by John Moore which will run until August 1.
Moore's passion for wildlife and natural heritage visually fuses themes of spirituality and mysticism and, in addition to depictions of wildlife and the plight of endangered species, his work often also includes references to Southern Africa's ancient San- and Koi- bushman rock painting heritage.
Moore's show at the Afropolitan Gallery is titled In the Beginningin which he engages primarily with a coloured pastel medium yet there is a body of classical work from this master print maker in etchings, linocuts and mixed media.
Schooled at St John’s College in Johannesburg, Moore's childhood was marked by long holidays and explorations of South Africa, particularly the Kruger National Park where he
was taught to love and appreciate wildlife in every form, and learned to enjoy not only the wonder of the “Big Five” but also the complexity and detail of “the little things”.
Moore remembers sitting at waterholes for hours armed with binoculars and nature books. He studied birds, trees and insects and over the years his appreciation for detail and micro organisms was firmly fixed into his growing imagination.
Moore also learned to appreciate the different ecosystems that inhabit Southern Africa, visiting the contrasting coastal forests of KwaZulu Natal and the arid deserts of Namibia, and he was also able to witness and appreciate the indigenous people of the country and its neighbours, sharing and listening to tales of the fauna and flora around the fire.
Moore has South Africa’s largest printing press in his studio which allows him to focus and work on large-scale images creating immense detailed mark-making in the works. Moore's inspiration for his images comes, he says, from “experiencing life in all its forms”.
We asked Moore some questions about his life and his work:
What inspires you?
I look at all aspects of my life to create inspiration in my work, from daily activities, walking in nature, movies, reading, trance experiences nothing is exempt from my continual scrutiny. Once an idea has surfaced, I then journal it for future reference.
What is your daily routine?
I work hard and am known as a productive artist. I often get up at 6am, go to the gym and get into the studio by 8am to set up for the day. I don't work normal hours but take frequent breaks through the day, allowing me to fetch children, look at research, attend meetings and catch up on admin. I usually work for two hours and have a 30-minute break. In peak times this working ethic can allow me to work till midnight. Close to exhibitions has me working even later. At night I find work the best, no distractions.
What are your preferred mediums?
I work in any medium that I feel is best to express my work. I am a printmaker and use these mediums often to express ideas, namely woodcuts, linocuts, etchings, perspex plates. However, I don't just use the printmaking mediums, I also use charcoal and pastels to create large scale work. My next show predominantly has large charcoal and pastel images, supported by ceramics and smaller etchings. I use whatever is needed to best express my ideas.
Tell us about your latest work 'In the Beginning' which is now on show at the Afropolitan Gallery
My previous show was focused on charcoal and silver pigment. It took me a year and a half to make those images. I was so tired of the limited monochrome perspective that I knew most of the work at Afropolitan Gallery would be colour. With this show, I am looking at time, and how that influences us. We can choose to change our future whilst acting in the present, our past can never be changed. My imagery is again the fauna and flora of Southern Africa using vibrant colours to shift my work as I progress further into this theme. I am also using cattle in my work, specifically targeting the Nguni, a symbol of wealth. I am trying to show how important and precious all our species are whether wild or tamed.
In the Beginning runs at the Afropolitan Gallery, Victoria Yards, 16 Viljoen Street, Lorentzville, Johannesburg until August 1. Opening times are Wednesday to Friday from 10am to 4pm and the first Sunday of every month as part of the First Sunday’s arts and entertainment events in east downtown Johannesburg.
About the Afropolitan Gallery
The Afropolitan Gallery showcases works by artists from South Africa and the African continent while educating the emerging collector on the value and investment in art. It creates a platform to showcase and develop a narrative around Afro-Futurism. What is and what exists in society today and positively re-enforce what is a complex and ever-changing expression of who we are and where we have come from, as socially conscious humans. We hope to engage and inspire a cross-generational, cross-cultural public. Making art accessible and promoting great talent, in what is a significant time for contemporary art in Africa today.
About John Moore
John Moore was introduced to the fauna and flora of Southern Africa at an early age. He studied Fine Arts at the Witwatersrand Technikon and realised that he could merge his love of wildlife with his love for art. His chosen art forms include, etching, lithographs, woodblocks and linocuts and he has completed his H.Dip Diploma in printmaking. His work has evolved into more conceptual imagery and now has South Africa’s largest printing press in his studio in Fourways. Moore has always tried to create highly detailed and thought provoking images. He looks at his subject with brutal honestly with the intent to record fine detail in all the forms he chooses to draw. John tries to honour the animal without showing any distortion. When looking at his pastels he uses vibrant colour, often contrasting with shocking intensity. John is not scared to mix purples with yellow or reds with greens. He is known as a colourist, despite working mostly in printmaking, and loves creating contrasting colour in his work.
About Nikki Wilsworth
Nikki Wilsworth is an independent curator and has been curating projects and events for 17 years both locally and internationally in the arts, entertainment, food and design sectors. She has curated some notable public spaces locally such as Neighbourgoods Market Joburg, Thirteen, Orlando West Children’s Library and has a diverse portfolio of clients from private individuals to blue chip companies. She is currently working on her own curatorial project - A Museum of Music – 100-year history of South African Music set to be exhibited in 2020. For more information visit: www.nikkiw.com