Signs and Symbols is pleased to present Garage Party, the first New York solo exhibition by South African artist Zander Blom.
In this new body of work, Zander Blom’s exploration of painting is wide-ranging. A phantasmagoria of images, the artist describes this chapter of experiments in his pictorial language as narrowing the gap between mind and hand. In his commitment to inquiry, Blom abandons his previous conceptual frameworks and rhetorical interests, instead following recurrent curiosities and childhood fascinations. Compositions are rendered with oil bars, painterly brushwork and watercolor-like washes on fragments of primed, raw and colored canvas. Removed from the conventions of frames, stretchers, art-historical references and easily digestible aesthetic elements the artist terms ‘tricks’ of cohesion, the works exist both as autonomous expressions and a floor-to-ceiling immersive installation.
In the manifesto accompanying this body of work, the artist writes:
“Garage-ism is an approach to painting in which the aim is to make works that look like they could have emerged from a garage; works that appear to have lived and spent time behind boxes and stacks of old furniture. It’s not faux garage, it’s not about sticking cobwebs or dust onto canvas, and it’s not about nostalgia. Nor is it about paintings being made in a garage. It’s about working in a mental space where the desired destination for your efforts is neither the trash heap nor the museum. It’s about cultivating paintings that seem to have no desire to grace a pristine gallery wall, or even reside above a couch in a lounge. It’s about aiming to make work that is only really fit to live in that nether space: the garage. In this sense Garage-ism is a way of tricking yourself into giving up on superficial ambition in painting without descending into depression and apathy. The aim is to strip away the layers of external motivators, to reject the clamour of hollow voices in your head and move towards your own essential nature. In a way it is about not aiming at anything at all, but since that is an unproductive proposition, Garage-ism is useful as a kind of proxy for the void. It functions as an anchor with a very slack tether — a simple idea that allows you to move around freely, without drifting off and getting lost in space.
“Manifestos are usually a trite business of pompous declaration associated with the 20th century. An obsession with progress and the claiming of the new is practically written into its DNA. This is not that. This is a whisper of permission, a 21st-century self-help, self-acceptance guide. Garage-ism proposes that your own unique set of shortcomings may actually be the most interesting thing about you. This strategy is also an exercise in self-deceit, because in truth nobody wants their work to end up forgotten in a garage. However, this ruse is intended to take you somewhere inside yourself, where you can be free, and without judgment or limitation. Garage-ism should allow you, even if just for a second, to forget about trends, theories, expectations, current discourse, the norm, the new, the blue-chip, the polished, the accomplished, the big-budget, the art world, the market, the critics, the gatekeepers — so that you can start making something, anything, today. This is a manifesto against creative paralysis in a very confusing world.”
The Garage-ism Manifesto, a riso-printed handbook, is available from the gallery — view a scanned copy online or purchase a physical copy here.
Zander Blom (born 1982 in Pretoria, South Africa) lives and works in Cape Town, South Africa. Solo shows include Polaris and Ursa Minor at the Institute of Contemporary Art Indian Ocean in Port Louis (2017); New Works at Galerie Hans Mayer, Düsseldorf (2017, 2015); Place and Space at the Savannah College of Art and Design in Savannah and also in Atlanta (2011-12); The Black Hole Universe at Galerie van der Mieden in Antwerp and also at 5x6x9 in Berlin (2010); in addition to Stevenson, Cape Town and Johannesburg. Group shows include Mapping Worlds at the Norval Foundation, Cape Town (2019); Assessing Abstraction at the Iziko South African National Gallery, Cape Town (2018); Gestalt & Becoming at Feldbusch Wiesner Rudolph, Berlin (2016), Exchange at Galerie Hans Mayer, Düsseldorf (2016); Home Truths: Domestic Interiors in South Africa at the Iziko South African National Gallery, Cape Town (2016); Material Matters: New Art from Africa at the Institute of Contemporary Art Indian Ocean, Port Louis (2015); Handle with Care!, the ninth Ostrale International Exhibition of Contemporary Art at the Ostrale Centre, Dresden (2015); Thinking, Feeling, Head, Heart at The New Church Museum, Cape Town (2015); The Evolution of Art 1830-2140, Kuckei + Kuckei, Berlin (2013); The Global Contemporary: Art worlds after 1989, ZKM Center for Art and Media Karlsruhe, Germany (2011); Ampersand, Daimler Contemporary, Berlin (2010); and ZA: Young art from South Africa, Palazzo Delle Papesse, Siena, Italy (2008). In 2014, Blom won the third Jean-François Prat Prize for contemporary art in Paris. In 2016, Blom showed work in a group exhibition as part of the fifth edition of the prize at the Palais de Tokyo in Paris. Blom is included in Phaidon’s current anthology of contemporary painting Vitamin P3: New Perspectives in Painting (2016), and his second catalogue raissoné Paintings: Volume II, with an essay by Nicola Trezzi, was released December 2016.