Inside the spirit of the vast Karoo

Patience Bambalele

Patience Bambalele

Visual artist Stephen Inggs, whose work has received both local and international recognition, is presenting a new exhibition, Silentium, at Braamfontein's Art on Paper Gallery.

Opened on Saturday, the exhibition represents a conceptual shift from his previous work.

Inggs portrays a history of the land and broadens his focus to include the spirituality of the vast Karoo landscape.

He describes his works: "Silentium is the title of a new series of work informed by my recent immersion in both ancient and recent history inscribed into the landscape of the Karoo.

"Traces left on the land are visual evidence of millennia of history as well as more recent events, ranging from ancient fossils and Bushmen rock paintings to wire fences erected by farmers in the 1800s.

"In my work there is a sense of isolation and solitude that confronts the psyche and imagination very directly. The human mind seems to be so constructed that the discovery in the external world is imitated."

Inggs points out that the visual intensity of the land and its corresponding air of isolation provided the starting point for his engagement with the Karoo and with personal questions the experience elicited.

He says his aim is to capture the emotional and spiritual register of the landscape of the Karoo, where - in a sense - time seems to stand still.

"It is a place constructed as much in the imagination as it is by the processes of millions of years of pre-history, reaching back as it does to a time long before the advent of mankind," he says.

The exhibition closes on November 23.