Of Dreams and Nightmares, is a new body of work by Johannesburg based artist, Jaco van den Heever.
Van den Heever is known for his visually compelling and highly nuanced drawings of Johannesburg urban landscapes and structures that explore the complicated relation that Johannesburg has to its own history and civil geography.
“My eyes are shut. I imagine a past landscape, a primordial veld, dotted with prospectors all staking their claims. Aspirant men with big dreams all eager to uncover the riches beneath the Highveld soil. The quest for material wealth has forced this once pristine landscape into unrecognisable terrain. The industrial machine has relentlessly carved and shaped the land into “Johannesburg”, a mining town, a city, a metropolis”, says van den Heever. “In essence the exhibition comments on a landscape that has changed beyond the recognition of the sheltered, all white town of my youth.
The reality is that Johannesburg has grown from around 300 000 to over 3 million inhabitants in less than two decades! We are forced to adapt to an environment of extreme change. Unfortunately this includes adapting to an overwhelming increase in the greed and avarice that the city’s foundations were built upon. This gnaws at me constantly, even in my sleep. I am merging conscious reality, and dream/nightmare space into one”, says van den Heever.
“I am dreaming. I look up and down a once familiar road, a landscape of Edwardian houses topped with red corrugated iron roofs. Vultures start circling overhead, ready to feast on the spoils of failed dreams in a city with glints of gold”, says van den Heever.
In Of Dreams and Nightmares, van den Heever focuses on Johannesburg’s dynamic nature. “Since its rapid beginnings, Johannesburg has transformed and fashioned itself according to the ever changing climate of the day.”
“The city has borne witness to unbridled industrialisation, the conception of the industry and commerce that has become its signature. “
The drawings bear testimony to the conflicts that have resulted in the spatial delineation the city along economic boundaries. The impact of this has been felt for generations. Johannesburg has seen world wars, recessions and depressions. “It has endured the rise of Afrikaner Nationalism with its forbidding racist doctrine that dominated for almost half a century, but Johannesburg is now a part of the global village”, says van den Heever. Johannesburg is in flux, forever shifting, forever changing. Today Johannesburg is a city bursting with people. A city trying to breathe, trying to cope and trying to house over 3.25 million inhabitants.
Of Dreams and Nightmares asks, can the city accommodate the growth explosion and its insatiable appetite of avarice and arrogance? Have we lost our way in a transforming city? Of Dreams and Nightmares can be viewed at Artspace from 01.02.2012 – 29.02.2012.
Van den Heever was born in Johannesburg in 1979. He has been interested in and practicing visual art since early childhood, and studied Fine Art at the former Technikon Witwatersrand (now UJ) in Johannesburg.Van den Heever resides in the old Johannesburg suburb of Brixton, which has served as a major source of inspiration for this body of work. He has been teaching actively at the University of Johannesburg, Vega - The Brand Communication School and now lectures part-time at the Graphic Design department at FADA, University of Johannesburg, and the School of Architecture at the University of the Witwatersrand and teaches privately.
For more information about this body of work please contact:
Artspace 142 Jan Smuts Avenue, Parkwood, 2193
Tel +27 (0)11 880 8802
To contact Jaco van den Heever
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