Abri De Swardt stands out at Gradex’10

University of Stellenbosch graduate Abri De Swardt is singled out for a highly stylised video installation reinterpreting the Last Supper

artsouthafrica issues
Abri de Swardt, Leda: The Annunciation / The Bride stripped bare by her bachelors (after Millais), 2009, pigment print on Epson matt paper, 60 x 36 cm STELLENBOSCH, Dec. 7, 2010 — Abri De Swardt, a graduate
of the Department of Visual Arts at the University of Stellenbosch, has won the
Timo Smuts Art Prize, this institution’s highest accolade, for a highly
stylised video installation For what we are about to receive (2010), a reinterpretation of the Last Supper.

Opulent, gaudy, biblical, affecting, De Swardt’s winning
work retreads familiar ground — on one level it reads like a mash-up of Federico Fellini’s
Satyricon (1969), Derek Jarman’s The Tempest (1979) and Tracey Rose’s Ciao
Bella (2001) — yet manages to convey an inventive and original artistic
sensibility at work.

Unlike the trio of young men seeking refuge behind paper
costumes in Avant Car Guard’s 2007 work, Protected by Theory, De Swardt’s costumed
men cannot hide from the onslaught. Bread and red wine rains down on them. Some leave, others persist, only to have their elaborate, colour-rich paper costumes to lose form and
fall to the ground.

De Swardt’s winning presentation is one of a host of
works currently on show at Gradex’10, a student-led exhibition that is on view at the University
of Stellenbosch until December 12. The exhibition features a selection
of work by graduates of the jewellery design, fine arts and visual
communication design programmes.

De Swardt, who earlier this year received a merit award
for his entry into the 2010 Absa L’Atelier Award, is scheduled to show at Cape
Town’s Blank Projects in 2011.

Read more about his October 10 performance at the Irma Sterm Museum here.
Abri de Swardt, For what we are about to receive, 2010, projection, rocks and anointing oil, duration: 11 min 56 sec
Variants fo invitation to Gradex’10