“9 Hopkins: Kamyar Bineshtarigh’s Artistic Tribute to Unseen Marks”
Southern Guild is hosting a captivating solo exhibition by the talented artist Kamyar Bineshtarigh, titled “9 Hopkins.” This exhibition, running from August 24th to October 19th, 2023, unveils an impressive series of abstract artworks that delve into the realms of gestural mark-making and the urban landscape of Salt River, a historic industrial area near central Cape Town.
Since occupying his Salt River studio, the building’s complex has deeply informed Kamyar Bineshtarigh’s creative practice. This enclave, situated amidst the aging industrial structures of Hopkins, Aubrey, and Yew Streets, has served as both muse and canvas for his creations. These buildings’ impending demolition and redevelopment add a poignant layer to this interaction, making “9 Hopkins” a significant milestone in his artistic narrative.
The conceptual genesis of this exhibition lies in the unintentional marks discovered on the walls of a local panel-beating workshop at 9 Hopkins Street. These marks, imprinted by the hands of skilled panel-beaters over many years, serve as accidental archives of human presence, labor, and gesture. Kamyar embarked on a journey to recreate these unstudied gestures using ink, graphite, and spray paint, developing a unique process showcased in his 2022 solo exhibition, “Uncover,” at Norval Foundation.
The Art of Extraction
For “9 Hopkins,” Kamyar painted directly onto his studio’s walls, applying layers of cold glue to form a skin he delicately peeled away. This process extracted the base layer of pre-existing wall paint, now overlaid with his artwork. The resulting works, especially those derived from the oblong rectangles of the building’s pillars, mirror the skeletal structure of the space itself.
The “9 Hopkins” artworks are expansive, alive with movement, and layered intent. Kamyar’s exploration delves into the role of intention in mark-making and the transfer of energy through artistic gestures. The exhibition invites viewers to ponder the intriguing intersection between creating art and the uninhibited act of being.
A Tribute to Complex Histories
Beyond the abstract, “9 Hopkins” delves into the area’s complex history. Once a thriving garment manufacturing hub, Salt River’s textile industry bore witness to the intricate racial politics of Apartheid. The area’s workforce transitioned from predominantly white to predominantly Coloured and Black laborers. The studio housing Kamyar’s art once employed only white women but later became a workplace for low-income laborers, particularly Coloured and Black women.
The post-1994 era brought global trade, rendering local textile factories unsustainable, leading to industry-wide retrenchments and collapse. Despite its proximity to protected heritage zones, the Hopkins Street complex faces imminent demolition, erasing the livelihoods and activities it currently accommodates.
“9 Hopkins” memorializes unconscious mark-making as an indicator of human presence, a map of memory, and a testament to being.
ABOUT SOUTHERN GUILD
Established in 2008 by Trevyn and Julian McGowan, Southern Guild represents contemporary African and diaspora artists. With a focus on Africa’s rich utilitarian and ceremonial art tradition, the gallery’s program furthers the continent’s contribution to global art movements. Southern Guild’s artists explore the preservation of culture, spirituality, identity, ancestral knowledge, and ecology within our current landscape. Their work has been acquired by the Metropolitan Museum of Art, LACMA, Philadelphia Museum of Art, Pérez Art Museum, Mint Museum, Harn Museum, Denver Art Museum, Vitra Museum, Design Museum Gent, and National Gallery of Victoria. Since 2018, the gallery has collaborated with BMW South Africa on a year-round program of meaningful activations that promote artist development and propel their careers. In Cape Town, Southern Guild will expand internationally with a 5,000 sqft space opening in Melrose Hill, Los Angeles, in February 2024.
All images courtesy of Hayden Phipps/Southern Guild