- Louis Minnaar
"If I could peel back my skull and show you my brain, it would probably look like a bottomless hole full of little shards of crumpled up papers that seem as if they could’ve meant something at some stage, but definitely don’t anymore.
I struggle to make sense of all the information. It's as if my brain is so full of images, ideas, songs, texts and numbers which are hard-coded with vague symbolism and hidden meanings, that the clear, meaningful pockets of information and memory that were stored for safe keeping have almost withered away and might one day be entirely forgotten.”
A series of slick canvases & installations bubbling with black forms under fluorescent lights, ‘Hello Darkness, My Old Friend’ is Pretoria artist Louis Minnaar’s second solo exhibition in Cape Town. The title is of course taken from the classic Simon & Garfunkel track, ‘The Sound of Silence’. In this exhibition, Minnaar stages a visual interpretation of sound, silence and the deterioration of our experiences over time.
Reconsidering the tenets of past Formalist artists, Minnaar strips his latest body of work to a few essential elements – in his case, the colour black and a range of highly textured surfaces. Using miscellaneous polygonal canvas shapes, a variety of media as well as enticing objects as the starting point, the works begin with a perfectly smooth surface which is gradually disturbed to create the final form. From eruptions of organic-seeming growths to swirled and sticky-looking squares, it is this haptic quality, highlighted by the juxtaposition of fluorescent tubes, that makes the works captivating.
Minnaar’s handling of his media allows the light to reflect off the artworks in different ways, casting shadows on the picture plane. The activated surface means that, as the viewer moves through the space, the appearance of the work also alters, picking up highlights from various sources. The result is that it rarely appears merely black. This optical interruption is akin to what happens to our experience of a work of art (such as a song) over time, particularly in our information-saturated era. Lyrics are forgotten or conflated, songs are covered and sampled, artworks turned into memes, and memories are accumulated over and through them; the original experience is lost. As Minnaar explains: “Information is killing information. It’s diminishing the significance of moments in time and confuses reality and context.”
In their enigmatic play of light on a dark surface, these works prompt us to reconsider our experiences. They serve, as “the flash of a neon light / That split the night” from the ‘The Sound of Silence’ does, as an appeal for us to reconsider our relationship with the world around us and, hopefully, engage with it on a more meaningful level.
Artist, designer, musician and all-round creative, Minnaar lives and works in Pretoria. Since completing his degree in Visual Communication (majoring in video) at Open Window, Minnaar has taken part in over 70 exhibitions locally and internationally.