Internationally acclaimed British land and conceptual artist, Richard Long, is showing together with South African artist Willem Boshoff at Stellenbosch Modern and Contemporary (SMAC) Gallery’s Stellenbosch space, in a two-person exhibition that opens tomorrow night.
Long is considered one of the world’s foremost land artists, and is cited, along with Robert Smithson and Christo and Jean-Claude, as a pioneer of an international movement, initiated in the late 1960s, that prioritised large-scale landscape interventions in various locations around the world. Long considers himself closer to the Arte Povera movement, a group of European artists whose often minimal interventions involved small modifications to found materials and environments. Long recently showed at the Iziko South African National Gallery (ISANG), displaying works produced during two residencies in South Africa, in the Karoo (2004) and the Cradle of Humankind (2011). His relationship with Africa goes further back than that, however. Long’s first visit outside of Europe — the first of many — was to Kenya, in order to climb Mount Kilimanjaro, in 1968. Since then he has returned to the continent several times to produce work. Long is known for his non-destructive approach to making earth works, which he does through simple, controlled acts of walking in landscapes, displacing natural materials such as rocks or sticks and making marks by subtraction. Long and Boshoff shared a residency period at Nirox, and felt an affinity between their practices. ISANG had planned to show both artists simultaneously, reflecting the synchronicity of their residencies, but due to budget cuts, the museum cancelled Boshoff’s show. At SMAC, Long will show a body of new and recent small-scale works on paper, many of which substitute his unusually large thumbprints for footsteps. Boshoff will show recent text-based works, three of which are entirely new pieces, premiering on this exhibition. SMAC will arrange a shuttle from Cape Town to and from Stellenbosch.