On August 4, Nel, in collaboration with FORMS, will present a solo exhibit by the influential contemporary artist Robyn Penn, titled “God’s Away on Business.” In her new series of works, the New Zealand painter explores the duality of the current state of global affairs, with a focus on the people’s complex relationships with nature and the subtleties of human perception. The exhibition will be open to the public until August 26, so make sure to get to Cape Town and pay a visit to Nel Gallery. It is something you need to see with your eyes and feel with your heart.
God’s Away on Business: A Must-See Solo Exhibit by Robyn Penn
“God’s Away on Business” can be divided into two parts. The first one turns around the idea that natural beauty, despite its perfection and glory, can be a source of horror and threat; the other one invites viewers to question their perception by looking at portraits of political figures who might look soothing and disturbing at the same time.
As for the first part of the solo exhibit, Robyn Penn draws clouds using graphite and encaustic wax. While the artworks might look highly inviting and relaxing, your focus can be stuck in their depth. The confusing expanse of the imagery can seem hostile and menacing as if you are dragged away into the very center of the chasm. By giving such a specific visual context, the painter reveals the concealed human hypocrisy about being protectors of nature while exploiting that same nature for their benefit.
The second part of “God’s Away on Business” is directed at the infamous political leaders who look surprisingly calm in the paintings. What’s the cause? Robyn Penn intended to create “agreeable” paintings of horrible men and generate tension for everyone who finds it hard to decide whether a peaceful atmosphere of a piece makes it better or worse. At the end of the day, it is you who choose sides.
The name of the solo exhibit stems from Tom Waits’ song, which is quite despondent in nature. While the artist takes and weaves the song’s pessimism into her new series, she simultaneously reminds us that every cloud has a silver lining, and there is always light in the midst of the darkness, no matter how pitch dark it is. The ideas behind the solo exhibit are fairly complex, yet we bet you will be bubbling with excitement exploring them by yourself.