Botanical Dimensions is a presentation of 7 works from Bevan de Wet’s practice, which draw on common flora and foliage as a means of exploring humankind’s increasing sense of alienation from nature and the spaces we inhabit. Referencing tropical non-indigenous plants, common weeds and other invasive species, these works speak to issues around invasiveness and occupancy in South Africa.
The history of our land(scape) is layered and complex, and this body of work explores a new way of mapping our immediate spaces. The linocuts entitled Mirage I-III are drawn up from the shadows of actual plants placed on the lino. The background patterns and surface details create optical distortions and moiré patterns when overlaid. These visual distortions start to feel as though they are viewed through a digital interface. The etchings entitled New Territories begin with images of common weeds. Decontextualised, they appear to become complex layered and abstracted topographical maps.
Through this process de Wet explores the gentle tension between organic forms and the structural impact we have on the environment. These works embrace chance to highlight the ephemeral cycle of creation and disintegration, and highlight the fragmented nature of our engagement with the natural environment.
Bevan de Wet (b.1985) is an artist and printmaker based in Johannesburg. He graduated with a BFA with distinction from Rhodes University in 2008. From 2011-2016, de Wet worked at the Artist Proof Studio in Johannesburg as a professional print technician, collaborator, and academic facilitator. In 2016 he founded his own print studio called Eleven Editions, where he also collaborates with other artists and publishes various projects. De Wet regularly works with Phumani Archive Mill, a paper-making research unit at the University of Johannesburg, where he produces his handmade paper work. De Wet works primarily with paper: with a focus on etching, relief printing, papermaking, drawing and installation.
De Wet has exhibited extensively, both locally and internationally, held 5 soloexhibitions including The Other Landscape (Lizamore Gallery, 2019), Drawing on Entropy (Hazard Gallery, 2018), New Forms: A Study of Broken Parallels (Candice Berman Gallery, 2017), and was included in Origins & Trajectories (Paris, 2016); the International Printmaking Alliance Exhibition (China 2016-17) amongst others. He has exhibited numerously on the Turbine Art Fair, FNB Joburg Art Fair, and the CT Art Fair. The artist’s work is held in a number of private and public collections including The Wits Art Museum, Nirox Foundation, the South African Embassy in Washington DC, Art Bank Collection South Africa, MOAD Museum of African Design, Exxaro, and the Ahmanson Foundation in Los Angeles.
De Wet’s awards include: the Ampersand Foundation Fellowship (New York residency 2013); the Thami Mnyele Art on Paper award 2013; the ABSA L’Atelier Merit Award 2014 (Sylt Foundation residency, Germany); the ImpAct Award for Visual Art from the Arts and Culture Trust 2014; and the Cill Rialaig Artists Residency (Ireland 2017).
De Wet’s practice centres around our increased sense of alienation from the natural environment and the spaces we inhabit, drawing attention to the fragmented nature of our current engagement with the world through digital interfaces. Concerns around space and how we occupy it, has led to a fascination with boundaries, whether biological, geographical and virtual, and how these boundaries are permeable and shifting. De Wet explores the tensions between the organic and the constructed world, from surface and the subdermal networks, to the structures imposed on the landscape. De Wet’s practice explores systems of order in a world that is complex and chaotic.