30.10 - 30.11.2019
Solo exhibition by Kirsten Beets
Concludes 2pm on the 30th of November 2019.
Text: by Natasha Norman
Hot on the heels of a sell-out exhibition at Sydney Contemporary Art Fair, Kirsten Beets presents Helios, her fifth solo exhibition with Salon Ninety One. Drawing on her interest in Classical studies, Helios explores the contemporary Southern Hemisphere summer holiday, a time imbued for Beets with a mythological quality.
In the South, the summer marks the end of both the school and calendar year. Hot and listless, time is elastic during warm days spent sun bathing, swimming or snorkelling. The idyllic nature of the season, characterised by a sense of ‘lazy-days,’ imbues memories with a rose-tinted recall. The fickle quality of memory is explored in Beets’ careful play between loose, abstract marks and photo-realism that create a thoughtful tension between accuracy and ambiguity. The soporific effect of heat that saturates experiences at this time of year, manifest feelings of carefree enjoyment and a respite from responsibilities. Beets invokes these qualities in her works through colour and content, creating compositions that conjure these feelings from the perspective of Helios – the ‘all seeing eye’ - worshipped in the older pantheon of Greek Gods for his omnipotence as well as his role as sun bearer.
For Beets, the summer months in Cape Town have always seemed a golden time in her childhood. But on the fringes of all this leisurely sun-worshiping she infers a latent threat to the carefree safety of it all. ‘Don’t Get Too Comfortable,’ ‘Heartbreak Summer’ and ‘Electric Summer’ are works imbued with a reflective glance at the impermanence and transient nature of these experiences. Protective fences ring carefree pool bathers while leopards stalk garden foliage and volcanoes threaten to erupt on the horizon (a tongue-in-cheek nod to the fate of Pompeii). Helios also includes subjects from Beets’ previous solo exhibitions with Salon Ninety One as well as a new series of small, spontaneously executed oil paint sketches which she describes as the melted versions of final canvases, providing an energetic edge to the more meditative nature of her larger canvases. Throughout the exhibition Beets carefully employs the symbolic and mythological language of her subjects to reflect upon summer as a space of only transitory hedonism.