Horror Vacui by Maja Maljević


Opening Thursday 8 May 2014

18h00 for 18h30 at 142 Jan Smuts Avenue, Parkwood

David Krut Projects is pleased to present Maja Maljević’s latest body of work, Horror Vacui, which follows on from her solo project, Ex Nihilo, which showed in Cape Town in 2012. In Ex Nihilo – a Latin term meaning ‘from nothing’, referring to anything that appears to have sprung into existence independently – Maljević asserted herself as creator of a self-sufficient world of colour, shape and line. This project again borrows a term from Latin: horror vacui, in science meaning “nature abhors a vacuum” and in visual art referring to work in which the entire surface is filled with detail. While both these meanings are appropriate in summing up Maljević’s paintings, in this project there is an emphasis on her working methods. By revealing the nature of the studio, new light is shed on the paintings that come out of it.

Maljević works across a range of scales; on the one end, paintings can be as small as 30 x 30 cm or so, while the largest measure approximately 2m across. Considering these dimensions, one imagines a vast space in which each painting has room to breathe; one imagines the artist walking between them, comparing them from a distance, or working on one without another entering her frame of reference. However, Maljević’s studio in her Johannesburg home is a small room, measuring approximately 3 x 4 m, making work on such large canvasses challenging to say the least. Furthermore, Maljević prefers to work on a number of paintings at once, stacking them against each other, filling every available space with a canvas surface.

In previous exhibitions, Maljević has employed a traditional method of installing her paintings in gallery spaces – all works with reasonable room between them, hanging all on the same midline, creating a respectable, uniform rhythm quite unlike the chaos of the small studio. With Horror Vacui she breaks with her norm, recreating a sense of the studio in the gallery. Paintings are crammed together, with little room between them, the walls of the gallery a blank canvas to be filled with the forms of the paintings. By stacking up horror vacui – in the studio, in the paintings and the gallery installation – traces remain of the close proximity of the artist to the works throughout their creation, felt by the viewer as the overwhelming intensity that is the signature effect of Maljević’s work.


– Jacqueline Nurse, April 2014

Installation images 142 Jan Smuts Avenue, Parkwood.

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Installation images Arts on Main.

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