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Nocturnes - paintings inspired by the artist’s life in Knysna

Nocturnes, a solo exhition of paintings by John-Michael Metelerkamp is Deepest Darkest Gallery’s first show of 2021.

Metelerkamp who was born and raised in Knysna, recently relocated to Cape Town, with Nocturnes being his first solo exhibition in the city following multiple exhibitions across the country as well as presentations at numerous art fairs.

Painted between 2018 to 2020, Metelerkamp’s Nocturnes is a collection of paintings inspired by the artist’s life in Knysna.

In his project statement, Metelerkamp writes: “Mostly I am interested in towns and how people move through and inhabit them. The moods and rhythms of people in places is what my attention gravitates toward. To my eye the people and places I observe hold an extreme familiarity. I know this stuff all too well; but often when I walk through a town I feel a different sense of myself. It is a learning experience. But I am not interested in celebrating or idealising the moment. I would like to uncover some form of emotion in the scenes that play out. An opening of truth, a vulnerability.

Experimentation is a huge part of my process. I try not to think until I am standing in front of the canvas, paintbrush in hand. Forcing thought opens up possibilities of a journey through the painting. Colours dictate colours and forms dictate forms. George Condo said “Don’t step back until you think you have something to look at’’. I adopt this practice. I get close to the painting. I want to be in the painting.”

Writer and art commentator Ashraf Jamal

In his essay on Nocturnes, writer and art commentator Ashraf Jamal notes: “The suite of works – portraits and urban scenes – eschews the photographic record in favour of an immersive experience. One senses the artist’s life, the throb and thrum of human and elemental energy, the consuming silence and darkness. But most of all, it is the light that breaks through, flecked, scattered, or pooled, which, finally, reassures and calms us.

Light is what we stumble upon, what momentarily holds us. In Metelerkamp’s case, the colour palette is strange. His is an empurpled, violet, greenly orange world which appears, to me at least, as utterly natural. If his take on light which is remarkable, then, so is his approach to paint. The density of its application is immediately evident. One senses a man who, in the moment of painting, is searching for an intangible yet distinctive moment when something is revealed. …Looking at Metelerkamp’s gloaming suite with it’s sensation not only of night but of twilight – worlds between worlds – I cannot forget that they were largely painted in 2020, a year more introspective than any other, more confounded, more searching. And what strikes me as I look at these paintings, wrought from the darkest time in living memory, is the artist’s sincerity.”

WHERE: Deepest Darkest Contemporary Gallery, 20 Dixon Street, De Waterkant, Cape Town 8001
WHEN: Opens – Saturday 20 February / 1pm – 5pm Closes: Saturday 10 April. Gallery Hours:Tuesday – Saturday: 12pm – 4pm. Private Viewings: Private viewings may be booked via email.
INFO: Deon  T +27 79 1384 203  |  |

All visitors to the gallery are required to wear masks at all times. Hand sanitizer is available upon entry.

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