Kwaal-ity Control : Prints by Chad Cordeiro and Nathaniel Sheppard III
David Krut Projects presents Kwaal-ity Control, an exhibition of cutting edge new prints by artist-printmaker collective Chad Cordeiro and Nathaniel Sheppard III
1 September until 24 September 2016
David Krut Projects, 142 Jan Smuts Avenue, Parkwood, Johannesburg
Kwaal-ity Control looks squarely at the printmaking industry and art world as a whole through the eyes of two emerging artists who are also printmakers. Most recently, Cordeiro and Sheppard collaborated with the David Krut Workshop (DKW) to carve William Kentridge’s enormous woodcut, Mantegna – a formative experience that energized the artists-printmakers to grapple with the various components of the printing industry in their personal work.
This exhibition marks Sheppard and Cordeiro’s first solo show since graduating with a BA Fine Art from Wits University last year, where the pair bonded over a cigarette and a love of hip hop and have collaborated ever since.
At its heart, Kwaal-ity Control is an explorative, sometimes satirical, comment on the concept of a printer’s ownership of labour. The title is a play on this central theme, pointing to “the idea that every print needs to be quality controlled – to be perfect, while raising important questions about labour and economy in terms of how much ownership the printer has over the work” – Sheppard and Cordeiro
Like the defiant Johannesburg taxis, some of which bear the sticker reading, “kwaal” (slang for “disturbance of normal functioning”), the collective endeavour to “carve out their own lane” in the art industry. In their own words: “we are looking at the premise of the labourer both in collaboration with the institution and against it.”
In this exhibition, Sheppard and Cordeiro want to re-configure the hierarchical positioning of artists and printers by giving visible, written acknowledgment to the DKW printers who have helped produce their work, technically and conceptually. This decision is based on their perception that “while people refer to printmaking as a collective process, this is only during the making, not during the showing”. They describe their core printer, Sbongiseni Khulu as “the calm in the chaos, helping us reach the finish line”.
As story-tellers who are also collaborating on a graphic novel, Sheppard and Cordeiro’s art tends to be narrative-driven and illustrative in style. But, while their strategy is to lead with a concept, both artists consider the technical process to be just as crucial:
“Carving is an emotional and spiritual process for us. Whether we’re carving separately or together, we believe that the plate picks up on the energy we exude when carving. If we don’t feel a connection with the plate, we stop. Every decision, every mark is thought through”.
Through richly detailed linocut, monotype and drypoint etchings, Sheppard and Cordeiro invite viewers to engage the complex and fascinating dynamics of an industry for which they are critical and appreciative.
They will be doing a performative printing piece on opening night, which will involve editioning work in real time, re-positioning the printer “front of house”, as it were, in a “white cube” context, to shake up convention and disrupt prescribed “roles”. “It is a simple gesture, placing the printer where they shouldn’t be to spark discussion in terms of what is expected from each component of the industry: the gallery, the printer and the artist”, they say.
Although Kwaal-ity Control is Sheppard and Cordeiro’s first solo show, it follows from their participation in the impressive group exhibition, A Labour of Love (2016) at Weltkulturen Museum, Frankfurt, where they exhibited alongside well known South African artists, such as Sam Nhlengethwa. They were top achievers at university as Martienssen Prize finalists in 2014 and winners of the Martienssen Prize merit awards in 2015.