Response to an exhibition at Seippel Gallery – Ricky Burnett

Jill Trappler’s four large paintings, currently on show at the Seippel Gallery in Johannesburg, give me great pleasure. They very successfully do what they set out to do and what they set out to do is of significant interest to me.

Firstly, they are paintings, and I have always loved what paint is and what it can do – that it so directly can engage the senses. Secondly, they are abstract paintings and I have always been drawn to abstraction and the philosophical question (if you like) which underlies all good abstract painting – where do the bounds of coherence lie? Thirdly they are big paintings that assert the primacy of sensation – you feel it or you don’t get it. Fourthly, they engage with nature – specifically, with water, or better still “watery-ness.” This last point is worth some consideration.

Someone, I forget who, once made the point that there can be art about nature, pictures of landscapes, wild-life, sea-scapes, sunsets, beds of irises and bowls of roses. But then there is also possible an art that evokes the sensations of nature without being pictures of nature – an art which is the product of naturalistic behaviors, if you will, an art which calls forth experiences analogous to our experiences before nature. So Trappler’s paintings strike me less as pictures of the surfaces of ponds or pools, as one might speak of Monet or Hockney, but rather more as pools or ponds in their own right – spaces where watery behavior has accumulated and a compelling sense of place, a genuine ‘here-ness’ is conjured up. Nature is called forth as distinct from being mirrored. After all, the mind may well be an expression of culture but the brain, where the mind is said to reside, is very much an artifact of nature.

Ricky Burnett