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Christened Ships | Diedericks



  1. Adriaan Diedericks

‘Christened Ships’ draws on ancient, local and personal history to combine the focus and skill that have made Diedericks a rising star in the South African art world (text continues below images).

The work in ‘Christened Ships’ brings to mind the sculptural forms of Ancient Greece, with undeniably contemporary refinement. Drawing on Classical, African and European mythology, Diedericks incorporates imagery that hints at how the past haunts present consciousness.


Just as the mythical Theseus was given a ball of twine to follow in his search through the Cretan labyrinth, there are clues for the audience to follow in ‘Christened Ships’. We can connect visual threads of themes that Diedericks has been exploring since his first solo exhibition in 2015, and which he here refines. Theseus, St Sebastian, Adamastor and other myths are all explored through elements of the sculptures, with the central imagery focusing on journeys, colonisation, violence, progress and identity – all subjects that speak to the problematic nature of power.


The impact of the collection lies not only in its intriguing imagery, but in Diedericks’s use of scale, with sculptures ranging from 2.4 metres tall to a mere 15 cm.


As much as his work is a personal and purposeful journey for Diedericks, just like a labyrinth serves metaphorically as an introspective path, so too does each viewer of this body of work gain different insights into the work and, ultimately, into themselves.


The exhibition concludes 24 February 2017.  

Opening address by Rod Clayton below the catalogue.

Adriaan Diedericks | Exhibition Opening | 25.01.17

Speech by Rod Clayton


Adriaan Diedericks’s upbringing in rural Picketberg pervades the conceptual impetus of his projects.  His work attempts to mimic the many different experiences and impressions of his youth.  Childhood observations play a part in his inspiration.

Adriaan is a Fine Art graduate at the University of Stellenbosch and besides being a prolific artist he has his own Adriaan Diedericks Studios and Bronze Casting Foundry, with a full time staff of 10, which he opened in 2016.  A remarkable achievement in itself.

He has participated in numerous solo and group exhibitions and his CV reveals representation in many corporate, public and private collections.  These range from New York, The Netherlands, France, Switzerland, Los Angeles, Australia, Las Vegas, Italy, Belgium, Germany, London, Canada, Barbados and of course South Africa.

He has been featured in numerous publications including Art Times, Top Billing, Country Life, Huisgenoot, Visi, Die Burger, Inflight magazine and Health & Leisure.

Adriaan Diedericks is firmly established as one of South Africa’s very talented and collectable artists.  A remarkable achievement for someone so young.

Adriaan’s art continually spills over from drawing into three-dimensionality where, through sculpture, he attempts to manipulate the messages inherent to scale and material.  He works with clay and substances such as found wood and plastic, often solidifying it in permanence through the use of bronze.  He captures most vividly the characteristics of his subjects.  In instances of his work he has cleverly recreated what looks like wood into bronze, as is so evident in his boatmen sculptures.

His sculptures can be viewed from any angle with equal aesthetic satisfaction.  They have something of tremendous vigour. The movement in space is continuous, convincing and the emotions are defined in an abstract way.  His sculptures emphasise contrasting values and create a play between light convex shapes and dark concave areas.  They combine past elegance with a taste for naturalism and often refer to nature for inspiration.  Adriaan is interested in conveying a sensation of immediacy and transience and uses the play of light over different surfaces and textures.  Many of his sculptures have a lack of finish and a looseness of technique. They are often heavily weighted with philosophical and allegorical content. Symbolism plays a big part in his inspiration and interpretation and this is apparent in his work.  He takes liberties with naturalistic appearances and rejects the traditional distinctions between the beautiful and the ugly and feels that the body is a vessel for power, glory and inevitable humiliation.  This is a key concept within his work – a thought which binds his reflections on masculinity and heraldic histories.

Adriaan’s work often portrays the human body as having, besides the functional perfection of a machine, the life of a changing thing, revealing endlessly to the attentive beholder its own inexhaustible manysidedness; the mysterious life of an animated object, and its special atmosphere, the principal characteristic of which is psychological. He conveys the spirit as well as the form of a subject.  The stylization that so often characterises art is a prominent feature in his work and he has a strong expressionist bent.  His surfaces are varied – curved, bent, oblique, often rugged – adding an interesting dimension.  He has developed a highly individual style with lyrical features which transcend and supercede the restraints of conventional bronze sculpture.  The lyrical fantasy of Adriaan’s work unites with a special gift for exploiting the qualities of metal, so evident in his sculptural groups.

It is my opinion that the art and talent portrayed here this evening is only the tip of the ice berg of what we can expect from this remarkable artist in the future.  A future which will be as vibrant and successful as it is exciting.

I have been asked to tell you that Glenmorangie have most kindly provided the whisky tonight and to thank them for their generous support. Many thanks too to Lena for her great help and support and of course this marvellous gallery, the 99 Loop Gallery, and its owner Morné.

I feel most honoured to have been asked to open this exhibition and it gives me enormous pleasure to do so.

Earlier Event: December 1
Untitled 3.99
Later Event: January 25
B L I S S | Valentine