Schema considers the nature of perspective and perception. It is the third in our series of summer exhibitions that reflect on the construction of imagery, following A Sculptural Premise (2013) and Chroma (2014). In accordance with the Greek word for 'shape' or 'plan', which refers to the way the mind makes a structured order out of what we see, Schema imagines many different ways of seeing space, depth and surface illusion.
Visual perception is activated when light waves enter the eye and strike the concave surface of the retina. This two-dimensional image is interpreted into a three-dimensional space by the brain. So compelling is the human predisposition to see the world in three dimensions that the mind constantly fools the eye into decoding flat stimuli as having depth. The technique used by artists in manipulating this human habit is perspective - the art of rendering a three-dimensional image on a two-dimensional surface.
The device of perspective has governed ways of representing and seeing in the Western world since its discovery in the early Renaissance. It is now taken for granted and we easily overlook that it is only a schema. At the time when optics, geometry and mathematics were 'discovered' and integrated into painting, it was advocated as an ultimate truth, an inescapable law, allied to ideas of progress, newness and improvement. Perspective was embraced because it described the world via a formula, according to a rational, repeatable and easily learned procedure, corresponding to the enlightenment thinking of its time, where everything could eventually be explained scientifically and not just in religious terms. The world could be reduced to an image.
With perspectival painting, the eye of the beholder became the image's place of departure, with individual viewers immersed in an illusory pictorial realm. John Berger, in his seminal Ways of Seeing, articulates the narcissistic and hubristic sense of control as we stand at the centre of the picture we are looking at. As he writes, the convention of perspective - which is unique to European art -
Exhibiting artists include Zander Blom, Wim Botha, Edson Chagas, Ian Grose, Samson Kambalu, Mawande Ka Zenzile, Moshekwa Langa, Mitchell Messina, Meleko Mokgosi, Serge Alain Nitegeka, Odili Donald Odita, Deborah Poynton, Robin Rhode, Hans Richter, Viviane Sassen and Guy Tillim.