Benji Liebmann (1953) lives and works in the Cradle of Humanity. In this territory located northwest of Johannesburg and designated World Heritage by Unesco, Liebmann is the founder and director of NIROX, a multidisciplinary non-profit artistic institution that has a residence for artists and a large sculptural park. In Nirox concerts are also held, theatre plays and multiple parallel performance activities are presented.
All of Africa knows that Benji Liebmann is a great patron of the arts, but they are unaware that he is also a great artist, a secret creator. The gallery is honoured and very proud that Liebmann will be showing his work in their Art Window.
Benji Liebmann working on his piece for the Art Window. All images courtesy of the artist & Marta Moriarty.
Of great technical virtuosity, it is a dreamlike and detailed figuration that transmits a sensual mysticism of powerful union with nature. His drawings constitute an almost tangible presence that goes beyond physical expression.
In the artists’ own words:
Writing a text about an artwork is likely more misleading than helpful, since I know little in the rational sense required to write coherently, of what the outcome means or how I came there. I can look back on it as a stranger might. And I can recall moments and features in its making.
It came together over 6 months starting its life as a contemplation of a large piece of paper cut roughly to the size of Marta’s window. It has grown and shrunk with marks and their erasure day by day. It has sometimes disappointed me and more often exulted me. This depends a lot on the prevailing mood…and the light. It is in some ways a reflection on light; and how this alters our perception of things.
Benji Liebmann’s studio.
After thinking at a stage that I had completed it, I had it photographed for the book, only to find myself return. The branches bottom left came out of that…and then again it became emptier… It is rather botanical, I would say. But that too comes and goes. It comes together and it falls apart all at the same time.
Finally it has become a triptych, I hope it serves to transport someone (just one is enough) somewhere that is not bound by reason and concrete experience, but uses these as the tools to open other possibilities for understanding; accepting materiality as a gateway to being.