Nothing to See Here
March 19 - April 23, 2022
OPENING RECEPTION Saturday, March 19, 7PM
SKETCHBOOK SHARE Saturday, April 2, 3PM
COMMUNITY ART TALK Saturday, April 16, 3PM
''One of the most formative influences on me was growing up in apartheid South Africa, especially during my art-student years when the country’s racist regime faced increasing resistance. The experience engendered in me a loathing for authoritarianism, bigotry, and the sanctimoniousness that often seeks to cloak them. This has been open or implicit in much of my work since then, and has often taken the form of allusions to barriers—physical barriers, ethical barriers, and barriers to seeing and understanding.''
- Garth Claassen
Local artist, Garth Claassen’s solo exhibition Nothing to See Here is about what we can, or cannot, or may not see. “See” is used in the broadest sense to include not only what is visible but also what is comprehensible. In two new series of work, Blind Spot and Nothing to See Here, Claassen brings into play established symbols of authority that have been impressed on society for decades: the suited-up businessman and the great state seal.
Blind Spot, alludes to moral and emotional, blindness, and was prompted by the public disgrace in recent years of many high-profile figures who abused their power. Claassen’s renderings of slightly over-sized heads are displayed salon-style, their massed images suggesting the ubiquity and banality of corruption.
The Nothing to See Here compositions are based on State and national seals, seals designed on the assumption that it is possible to emblematize a complex, diverse, and changing society, using imagery that can be agreed upon to represent fundamental truths about it. They suggest a unity of vision, one that is often reinforced by a circular frame. Claassen retains the Seal’s circular frame, but the relationships between the circumscribed figures are antagonistic and sometimes confusing.
Claassen makes use of the symbols’ recognizable formal structures, but deviates from the ideals they represent. The work draws on contemporary motifs and evokes an aura of ambiguity that allows us to rethink the relationship between current events and the obsolescence of those symbols.
Garth Claassen has exhibited extensively throughout South Africa and Northwestern United States. His work can be found in the collections of the South African National Gallery (Cape Town), the Durban Art Gallery, the Tatham Art Gallery (Pietermaritzburg), the University of Natal (now the University of Kwazulu-Natal), Portland Art Museum, Stewart Gallery (Boise), and the Boise Art Museum. He has been a professor of art at The College of Idaho since 1994. Claassen lives and works in Caldwell, Idaho.
PHOTOS Wytske van Keulen