CORNE EKSTEEN (b.1973)

ABOUT THE ARTIST

Corné (Cornelis Johannes) Eksteen (b. 1973, South Africa) is a figurative painter, renowned for his large scale confrontational portraits. His work relies on both figurative and abstract painting traditions in the creation of pieces that not only represent the physical appearance of his sitters, but also reflects on and explores their inner life and state of mind. Eksteen refers to the creation of these portraits as a quest for new archetypes.

Currently works are created from reference photos taken in the studio or on site. They are printed out and cut it up in vertical strips, like the effect a paper shredder would have on a document. A selection of these strips are then removed from the image leaving only sections of the original image intact. The final reference photo thus only contains segments of the original image, it is roughly drawn on the canvas and once the painting process starts each omitted vertical strip is painted in as a mirror image of the previous strip. It’s a complex process of reproducing the visible strip in the reference photo, creating a mirror image of it, while maintaining a visual continuation with the following strip in the image. Parts of the image will get changed or broken down to mere pattern, for which wrapping paper, op-art or wallpaper often serves as inspiration. Works are primarily produced alla prima.

Eksteen’s work is visually confrontational, but most often serves as a simple question posed to the viewer. He has presented images of castrated men (La Mort, 1998), confronting notions about gender by beckoning the viewer to confess “who and what they are without their genitals” He has combined the faces of male and female sitters into a single androgynous portraits (xx=xy, 2015) asking the viewer to identify the gender of the sitter and in so doing to expose their own gender bias understanding of the world. In his latest body of work, he questions the viewer’s understanding of the physical world by presenting a version of reality that confronts the viewer with images drenched in the scientific and technological ideologies of the early 21st century. Eksteen, is currently living and working in Hillcrest, Kwazulu-Natal, South Africa. 

waveWORKS Exhibition Statement

“Energy is neither created nor destroyed only transformed.” – Law of Conservation of Energy.

“Energy” has become one of the most important issues steering the cultural and economic discourse of the early 21st century. Every aspect of our lives is influenced by our energy consumption, how that energy is sourced, its environmental impact and its sustainability. The preoccupation with our energy dilemma along with the laws of physics that govern energy, its transformation and behaviour and by extension all matter, constitute the conceptual foundation of this body of work.

In 1924 French physicist Louis de Broglie proposed the theory of wave-particle duality. Wave-particle duality holds that light and matter exhibit properties of both particle and wave such as wavelength and frequency, thus concluding that all physical matter vibrates at its own innate frequency and wavelength. Mathematical representations of these vibrations, much like sound and light are sinusoidal waveforms. Waveforms are used as the primary visual motif and structural element in these works to aid in meaningfully describing concepts such as existence, being, becoming, and reality. The subject matter is celebrated for both its physical form and its hidden or invisible nature.
waveWORKS is a re-assessment of traditional visual representations of the physical world, utilizing several artistic traditions such as portraiture and still life to express a new consciousness and awareness of the fundamental nature of all matter: energy.