Art Trails | Illusion/Allusion Exhibition

Diana Williams, Vice Chair AVA and founder of Art Trails, was the guest speaker at the opening of the Illusion/Allusion Exhibition on 20 January 2019 at the RK Contemporary Gallery in Riebeek Kasteel featuring the artists Sue Martin, Julia Cavalieri and Sharon Sampson.

Read below the opening speech from Diana.


Thank you for coming today to RK Contemporary for the launch of this extraordinary exhibition. We are very fortunate to experience part of ‘Illusion/Allusion’, fresh from its first installation at the Gordon Institute of Business in Johannesburg.

The Mother City and its surrounds has often been alluded to as playing second fiddle to the booming metropolis of Joburg but in the art world Cape Town and artists communities like Riebeek Kasteel are trailblazers in many ways. Thanks to Astrid who continues to bring significant and insightful exhibitions to a different albeit small space but one that is most relevant to the arts.

We are delighted to welcome Julia Cavalieri, Sue Martin and Sharon Sampson to RK. I have known Sue Martin for many years and was fortunate to be given one of her ‘Mapping Space’ series, as a going away present from BASA when I left two years ago. I have also known Julia Cavalieri and have seen the progression of her work over the years, remembering well her work with Sue at the Villa Arcadia Hollard in 2009 to her latest achievement of being named Outstanding International artist at the San Diego Art Fair. It is wonderful to add Sharon Sampson, as another extraordinary artist to the mix, who comes to ‘Illusion/Allusion’ with an alchemy between print and oil paintings.

Reality versus allusion or illusion depending on the senses used. Sue, Sharon and Julia have all conjured up references to the spaces we inhabit both physically and emotionally.

How the artists invite us into their place of special experience is unique to each one but the themes are shared.

Julia usually prefers to work with large canvases using oils and mixed media. Julia’s paintings depict projections of the subconscious, the allusion of a very private space – an inner nest moulded by an outside world. As the artist Ricky Burnett has said of Julia’s work, ‘Julia paints not to make pictures, but to use paint as a poet uses words, to put before us and to invite us into, a ‘place’ of special experience.’ Her recent exploration of sculpture has added a new dimension to her work as demonstrated by the “SHADOW NESTS” bronzes.

Sue’s subject matter is fundamentally about journeys, both literal and figurative. Her use of mixed media is part of the alchemical process, mixing beeswax and oil paint to produce images of depth and beauty. Lie of the Land incorporates Sue’s growing passion for introducing the printed word onto her surfaces which has led her to explore the spatial considerations within a painting even further. Laying down words or marks and then pushing them into the distance, layering not only different surfaces but also meanings. The process is a work in progress that has its own journey, much like the people who feature so prominently in her work.

Sharon’s works are presented as oil paintings and prints. She believes there is an alchemy between print and oil painting. Sharon explains, ‘The prints ignite the canvasses, the canvasses feed off each other. Inspiration for one painting might be found in another – a thread of narrative emerges.’ The intermingling of lustrous inks and oils provides the perfect platform to express the ebb and flow of human relationships. We see figures submerged in the depth of the canvas and paper and re-emerge, they sometimes appear to be dissolving in liquid or shrouded behind mark-making and patterns.

Please take a moment to wander around the gallery and explore the space now filled with the work of 3 very different artists expressing the alchemy of space – together and separate in this stunning setting. Riebeek Kasteel is honoured to have Julia, Sue and Sharon and they are honoured to be here.

Nb, to me alchemy: Purify, mature and perfect certain objects – spiritual philosophy.