Morné Venter is a South African artist working primarily in ink and other mixed media. He was born in Roodepoort in 1988 and completed a BA degree in Information Design at the University of Pretoria in 2010. He has since been living and working full-time in Pretoria. Venter started his career as an artist in 2012. Since then he has participated in various group exhibitions in Johannesburg and Pretoria and qualified as a finalist in the Sasol New Signatures 2015 competition. His first solo exhibition titled “Speak in Messes” was also held in 2015. He is also the creator of Putdownness, a philosophical webcomic, which he started in 2012.
Venter explores the ever-shifting interpretations of identity and human connection through the lens of philosophical existentialism. His work is marked by imagery influenced by horror, emotion and abstraction. His primary artistic philosophy is centered around the idea of the “mess”. This idea is an apt description of both his views on the human condition and his personal artistic process. His obsession with human nature manifest itself in a series of emergent messes and mistakes distilled into visceral imagery intended to relay and provoke perspectives on the human experience. Process and outcome are inextricably intertwined in his work and hinges on the playful experimentation and exploration of different drawing media through the development of unusual techniques and methodologies.
In this exhibition, Venter continues to explore themes of existentialism, messiness, interpretation and horror. The title of the exhibition is a reference to the passing semblance of humanity in the face of an indifferent abstract cosmos; a smear on a timeline. The themes in this exhibition draw inspiration from Lovecraftian ideas of cosmic horror. The hallmark of Lovecraft’s horror is essentially the sense that ordinary life is a thin shell over a reality that is so alien and abstract that the mere contemplation of it would damage the sanity of any person. This exhibition reflects these ideas in a more intimate and personal manner: essentially the messy, abstract nature of our own lives and the way in which we construct ourselves by assigning meaning. The fact that our lives can be viewed as abstract messes means that our hopes of connecting with others and even ourselves are left to the mercy of the narratives we construct as we stab in the dark between our hopelessly mismatched experiences. Even if we do transcend the messy, abstract incoherence of our lives through our assigned meaning we may still be stuck in our own terrible and faulty interpretations. Our trials, tribulations and even our joys are of our own making. Many pieces show tortured figures surrounded by abstract shapes and symbols. These symbols are representations of the vague and inscrutable horror we are faced with given the story we create for ourselves.The techniques of Venter are based on the taming of inherently messy mediums such as ink and charcoal. Each artwork is an attempt to create order from messy, purposefully accidental panels filled with unrelated marks which ultimately translates back to reflect the main themes of this exhibition.
“A Flesh Coloured Mess” is the sophomore solo exhibition of artist Morné Venter and follows in the footsteps of the 2015 Drawingrooms exhibition “Speak in Messes”. The exhibition will be hosted at No End Contemporary Art Space located in Linden, Johannesburg. The exhibition will launch on Wednesday 22 February 2017 and will remain open to the public for approximately 2 weeks. The exhibition will feature completely new work completed between December 2016 and February 2017. Please see the artist biography for more information.