Collector’s Focus

Vedanā: Experiences of Tonality in the Véronique Susman-Savigne Collection

Gallery  9
Curated by Mike Tigere Mavura
27 October – 7 January 2019

Image: Lynette Yiadom-Boakye, Inscription, 2010. Oil on canvas. © Lynette Yiadom-Boakye. Courtesy of the artist and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York.

ABOUT COLLECTOR’S FOCUS

Norval Foundation’s Collector’s Focus is a series of exhibitions and talks that highlight the role of collectors of visual art and design in shaping culture. It was established by Elana Brundyn, CEO of Norval Foundation, to recognise the unique contributions that collectors play in the preservation and evolution of culture. Norval Foundation continues to work with a broad range of local, national and international collections, owned by private individuals and corporate organisations, to consider their impact on knowledge and research in the arts.

In line with Norval Foundation’s mission, the objects selected for display from these collections will predominantly be from the 20th and 21st centuries, and will be presented within dynamic exhibitions which highlight the collector’s or organisation’s particular viewpoint on visual art and design. Special attention will be paid to the context of collecting and how it may have informed what objects were acquired. Both internal and external curators are invited to work with a collection that Brundyn identifies in consultation with that curator. Talks with collectors, artists, designers, curators, academics and cultural practitioners will provide a range of perspectives on the role of the collector within society.

While a few large scale collections are publicly accessible, both locally and globally, many other high quality collections are only on view in private residences, corporate offices or are simply in storage. This series of exhibitions provides a platform where artworks in these collections can be viewed, discussed and appreciated, honouring the contributions that collectors have made in supporting and promoting artists and designers, and is an opportunity to share with the public the vital role that collectors play.

More broadly, the process of collecting is perhaps a fundamental aspect of human nature even as it differs between cultures, periods and individuals. As tastes, times, and circumstances change, collecting habits evolve and adapt. Personal and unique to their individual owners, visual art and design collections are a way in which important milestones and memories can be crystallised into a tangible and personal archive or diary. At times, collecting may reflect admiration for a particular style, artist, designer or period in history.

Central to this programme is an understanding that art collecting is not necessarily a privilege reserved for a select few. Instead, from humble beginnings and in unlikely places, a passion for art can lead to a lifetime of collecting. According to Hilla von Rebay,

The importance of the collection does not lie in its valuable pictures alone, for anyone with great wealth may acquire the most famous ones. The real value of a collection lies in its organic growth and selection, expressing the personality of the collector.

Hilla von Rebay, artist and inaugural Director of The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum (New York, USA)

ABOUT VEDANĀ: EXPERIENCES OF TONALITY IN THE VÉRONIQUE SUSMAN-SAVIGNE COLLECTION

Norval Foundation is delighted to open Vedanā: Experiences of Tonality in the Véronique Susman-Savigne Collection, the second exhibition in the Collector’s Focus Initiative. This exhibition presents a constellation of works from the collection of Véronique Susman-Savigne, which ruminates on humanity’s existential questions and the psychology of being. The collection, which includes contemporary works acquired on several continents, exists as a mirror to the human psyche; it reflects on fundamental existential questions that relate to human thought, behaviour and personality. By extension, the exhibition enacts a silent conversation across varied experiences, with the abstract works registering tones, whilst the figurative works pose the questions: Who am I? What is my true nature or essence? What is my true identity? Why do people behave the way they do?

Vedanā is a Buddhist term referring to the range of raw pleasant, neutral and unpleasant sensations that occur when our internal sense organs (physical sensations), come into contact with external sense objects and experiences (mental feelings), and the associated consciousness. The figurative works in the collection speak to what we can ‘see’, complemented by abstract works that probe us to ‘sense’ things that address the human psyche – be they emotions, impulses or even healing. This exhibition draws on the variations within humanity’s complex internal and external sensory compositions, emanating from broadly relatable growing pains and life experiences.

The selected works thread together a narrative that enacts the drama between ‘being’ and ‘becoming’, which plays out in themes centred around love, identity, belonging, acceptance and rebellion, memory and amnesia, stillness and motion, rhythm and blues. The exhibition also catalogues life’s in between moments, where nothing happens. These are the neutral feelings in vedanā where time freezes, and where motions ease. A rhythmic element is also suggested in our experiences of tonality, which hints at how our psychological milieu might be composed and sounded.

Vedanā: Experiences of Tonality in the Véronique Susman-Savigne Collection brings together figurative and abstract works; vivid faces, blurred figures, suggestions, declarations and gestures, as subjective equivalents of a life experienced. What is being represented are inner states of being. Figuration and abstraction both speak to internal processes of change and transformation, and to processes of transcendence and ascension, which have individual and universal resonances.

Zanele Muholi
HeVi, Oslo, 2016. Courtesy Stevenson, JHB & CPT.

Cinga Samson
Hliso Street IV, 2016.

Nicholas Hlobo
Ulwabelwano, 2015. Courtesy Stevenson, JHB & CPT.

Igshaan Adams
Stam, 2016.

Kemang Wa Lehulere
They Comet Again 1, 2015. Courtesy Stevenson, JHB & CPT

Kemang Wa Lehulere
They Comet Again 2, 2015. Courtesy Stevenson, JHB & CPT.

Current exhibitions