Wessel van Huyssteen

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Wessel van Huyssteen has been active as an artist, community arts educator, curator and film maker since 1990. He has been nominated and won several local and international documentary film awards. In 2016 he started painting full time and has since held two solo exhibitions and attended two international residencies as invited artist. He completed my Masters of Art in Fine Arts at Wits University in 2017 and passed with distinction. He has collaborated in several South African group exhibitions and his works are in the South African National Art Bank collection in Bloemfontein, Glo’Art International collection in Maastricht, Belgium as well as the Philippe and Kinga de Chandelar Petro Collection in Hungary.

Van Huyssteen is mainly interested in the landscape and the concept of non-place. He looks at the significance of marks and patterns, imposed on the landscape by humans. These marks vary from the architectural, mining and agricultural interventions. He held his first solo exhibition titled, “How to paint a highway”, at Point of Order Project space at Wits University in 2017. This exhibition consisted of a series of large scale watercolour on paper paintings, inspired by travels on the N1. He investigated this structure within the landscape as both a unifying and dystopian South African space. The painted subject matter mainly consisted of debris (tyres) collected on the shoulders of the highway and is painted in forensic detail - reminiscent of topographical art - to excavate the layered histories of the objects depicted and the materials used. These works explored the highway as a signifier of globalisation and its history of resource extraction.

In 2018 he held his second solo exhibition,”Under a cobalt sky”, at Gallery2 in Johannesburg. This project is conceptually linked to “How to paint a highway” as it also deals with the relationship between travel, exploitative resource extraction, labour and non-place. He focussed on two colours (metals) exerting considerable influence on contemporary society, namely cobalt and cadmium. He linked and questioned the use of these colours in the history of painting, in road signage and in the manufacturing of cutting-edge digital technology which is underpinning the current global economy.

He has been invited by the SA Association of Contemporary Art to attend a two-month residency at Entabeni Farm in Knysna From February to April 2020. His third solo exhibition is scheduled for middle 2020.