Being There: Anthea Delmotte & Wendy Gaybba

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This show was conceptualized last year, and the artists started preparing the body of work earlier this year after a private viewing (by the artists and the curator) of the movie Being There, with Peter Sellers as Chance, the gardener who becomes Chauncey Gardiner by accident. We have all read or seen rags-to-riches and riches-to-rags stories, but this is probably a riches-to-riches story, if that makes any sense at all. A simple-minded gardener dressed in custom-tailored suits eventually becomes a presidential candidate, but to Chauncey his reality has not changed one iota. In fact, he sees no difference at all. There has been much debate about the allegorical nature of this movie, a “placid fable” described by one commentator as a “provocative black comedy”, an evaluation borne out by the fact that the film is ranked number 26 on the list of top 100 funniest films in American cinema released by the American Film Institute in 2000. One way of looking at it is in terms of the words of the US President’s confidant and advisor Rand (and Chauncey’s benefactor) quoted by the President at Rand’s funeral right at the end of the film: “Life is a state of mind”. But this is only one angle.

The curator provided no guidelines, instructions, or whatever, and probably expected some sort of thread. The first images received of work having been done revealed something totally unexpected. Here we have two artists reflecting on their own “being there” in a very direct way.

Followers of AntheaDelmotte’s career familiar with her particular brand of realism on canvas the past few years will be amazed. Having to deal with the trauma of her son’s death on his way home for Christmas on the 24th of December last year has understandably changed her perspective on life dramatically, and her body of work for this show is not even on canvas, something she explains at length in her artist’s statement.

Since 2000 Wendy Gaybba’s work has always had a brooding quality; some playful elements, but with serious undertones. For the first time her whole body of work for an exhibition consists of portraits, in your face portraits – direct; nothing coy about them. Here we have reflections, raw reflections, on the artist’s own state of mind at a specific time in her life.

What started out as an exhibition about “Being There” ended up being one about “Being Here”, and the journey “From There to Here”.