Contemporary Art

Live Auction, 16 February 2019

Contemporary Auction
  • Berni Searle; Flight, from the Seeking Refuge series


Lot Estimate
ZAR 30 000 - 50 000

About this Item

South African 1964-
Flight, from the Seeking Refuge series
signed, dated 2008 and numbered ED 2/5 in pencil in the margin
archival pigment ink on cotton rag paper
image size: 102 by 144cm; sheet size: 112 by 154cm

Notes

In the Seeking Refuge series:

'Berni Searle does not take the viewer to a place that one can completely recognise. The specificity of the location is often too surreal to be pinpointed. The landscapes show no traces of human life except for her presence. The colour, the coating, the hiding, emerging and covering [of her body], as well as the mountain, the ocean and the air show the desire to stay, in that her body gives the gesture and posture of that which could be interpreted as a rooting or connecting to that place.'1

In an attempt to seek refuge in an alien environment, Berni Searle inserts herself in a bleak landscape defined only by such basic elements as air, water, and earth. In Flight, the first in a series of works titled Seeking Refuge, her black scarf takes to the wind, and she seems to be floating off into the sky. In Parched, the second in the series, Searle crouches on a white surface chequered with pieces of curled mud. And in Enfold, the third in the series, her prostrate body seems to be enfolded by the earth itself. Her presence in the landscape signals an artistic interest in identity and place. Says Clive Kellner: ‘Rather than document or hold to account historical events, Searle moves into a realm that is at times abstract, always provocative and visually sumptuous. Her work occupies a space that is liminal and sublime as in the tradition of the Romantics, exploring themes of beauty, loss and transcendence.’2

Berni Searle was born in Cape Town in 1964 and obtained an MAFA at the Michaelis School of Fine Art, UCT, in 1995. She is currently Professor and Head of Department at that institution. She has mounted numerous exhibitions, locally and internationally, chiefly at Stevenson, Cape Town. The most notable event in her international exhibition history is her participation in the Earth Matters exhibition at the National Museum of African Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington D.C.

  1. Juliana Irene Smith. (2016) ‘The Contemporaries: Berni Searle’, Artthrob, August 12.
  2. Clive Kellner. (2006) On Beauty, Loss and Transcendence, in Sophie Perryer. (ed.) (2006) Berni Searle: Approach, Johannesburg: Michael Stevenson.

Exhibited

Stevenson, Cape Town, Berni Searle: Recent Work 2007/2008, 4 September to 11 October 2008.

National Museum of African Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington D.C., Earth Matters: Land as Material and Metaphor in the Arts of Africa, curated by Karen Milbourne, 22 April 2013 to 5 January 2014. Searle's video Seeking Refuge was on this exhibition.

Literature

Virginia MacKenny. (2013) 'Land Matters', Art South Africa, vol. 11. No. 4, Winter, page 44.

Sophie Perryer. (ed.) (2008) Bernie Searle: Recent Work 2007/2008. Illustrated in colour on page 50.

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