Belinda Blignaut Bio
Emerging in the early 1990s, Belinda Blignaut (b.1968) was one of the group of young Johannesburg-based conceptual and experimental artists whose work served as a commentary on the social and political uncertainty of South Africa, often in challenging or, at the very least, critical terms. Antibody, her first solo show, was held at Everard Read Contemporary in 1993. Subsequently, she exhibited at the 1994 Sao Paulo and 1995 Africus Johannesburg Biennales. After an hiatus of over a decade, Blignaut returned to the art world in 2009 and participated in a few local projects as well as two important international exhibitions, No Government No Cry (2011) and Newtopia: The State of Human Rights (2012). In 2010 the installation Stealing the Words slowly inhabited the Young Blackman space during the days leading up to the opening. In 2012 she also curated the group show, A Shot To The Arse, at the Michaelis Galleries,Cape Town. It examined what counter culture is to us, as artists. Twenty years after her first, blank projects, Cape Town, hosted BLOWN, her second solo.
That she is exhibiting her work again since the beginnings of this country’s democracy, suggests that there is a revived urgency for protest. Through a varied series of works over years, Belinda Blignaut has been processing issues around transformation, with the body at the centre of all. Through an engagement with readily available materials, processing immediate surroundings, she hopes to translate the ways we adapt, a quiet visceral investigation into life and the creative process.
Surfacing in all she does is a desire for a more fluid world, to resist the effects of institutionalized culture. Her recent work takes her interest in the formlessness and abjection of her bubblegum sculptures into a new series of misshapen ceramic vessels and forms. There are combinations of purely intuitive experiments and wheel thrown or hand-built shapes that are cut and the individual components joined to make ‘an other’ whole. Through these intuitive choices and tactile joining processes, the works are all a move to create parts of a ‘manifesto’ challenging systems and structures in life and art.
In 2013, from her studio, she began teaching children and special needs people of all ages, providing a space for sensory experience and free expression. Clay can be a therapeutic alternative language where there is sometimes little ‘regular‘ communication. Important to her work is making art more useful, with a specific interest is in spontaneity, intuition and play.
In her own words, “Working with others is helping me to move towards abstraction, and raw expression. I’ve come to believe we have one story to tell and keep finding different ways of telling it.”