The Standard Bank Gallery in Johannesburg presents The Safest Place is the Knife’s Edge, the first retrospective exhibition in 35 years showing the works of the artist Christo Coetzee (1929 – 2000). Curated by Wilhelm van Rensburg and Shoni Netshia, the exhibition aims to revive and restate Coetzee as one of South Africa’s modern art masters.
Coetzee was not only a leading exponent of abstract expressionism in South Africa and Europe during the 1950s and 60s, he was also a key member of international art movements like the radical Gutai Group in Japan where he worked from 1959 to 1960 and the Assemblage Art in New York during the early-1960s. He was the first South African artist to exhibit at Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York as part of the seminal exhibition, The Art of Assemblage in 1961 alongside Pablo Picasso.
It was in 1975 that Coetzee performed a spectacular slashing of his paintings in Cape Town a day after the opening of an exhibition of his work at the South African Art Association. The intervention sent shockwaves through the artworld that reverberate to this day. It was one of many bold and seemingly outrageous creative interventions he made throughout his long career. Coetzee explained the dramatic slashing incident as “a Gutai act’’ – similar to some of the performances by a movement of post WWII avant-garde Japanese artists, the Gutai Art Association.
Coetzee left South Africa in 1951 after graduating from Wits University where he was one of the WITS Group. He died later in the year 2000.
The Safest Place is the Knife’s Edge, a retrospective exhibition by Christo Coetzee (1929 – 2000) is at the Standard Bank Gallery in Johannesburg from 5 October - 1 December 2018. Follow us on our social media for more information on this and future exhibitions;
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