A Smaller Scale
A Group Exhibition at EBONY/CURATED in Cape Town opening Thursday 4th April until Saturday 1st June 2019.
In the Contemporary art market works of a larger scale are often associated with quality and collectability. Smaller works of art are somehow identified for less important subjects and the very fact that they are more accessible in size makes them too commodifiable.
However, in our Instagrammed, overblown and installation-fuelled age of visual sharing where “bigger is better”, for many contemporary artists a smaller canvas offers the viewer something more intimate and detailed.
Charles LeDray comments; “Scale is a bouillon cube that can condense and hopefully enrich a concept.” Until the widespread use of canvas in the 16th and 17th Century artists did not have access to the use of materials that would enable them to produce large-scale moveable pieces.
Wooden panels of sufficient quality were limited in size due to the width of the material, yet artists could still express themselves on a grander scale with frescoes and murals adorning churches and palaces across Europe.
In the 18th Century, painting on a grand scale reflected cultural influence, financial and political power - not only for the subject but also for the artists producing the works. There are still parallels today:
“I think small-scale work can function as a subtle political act, especially while we live under a regime of an ostentatious brute who equates greatness with bigness” – says Fabiola Alondra of New York’s Fortnight Institute. Historically, still life and landscapes were often excluded from these grandiose large-scale visual statements but as with earlier pre- and renaissance works, we are provided with a tremendous and detailed visual legacy.
Ultimately, of course, the viewer experiences art in the space of their own mind. It can expand to the breadth of the universe or narrow to focus on a single idea, object, or view. Where large pieces can be read at a distance, small ones, like Fabergé eggs, demand slow, close-up examination, and hold the promise of surprise. In this fast-paced world of what Rugoff calls “the drive-by art experience,” that can be a virtue.
Some of history’s greatest creators are revered for works on ‘A Smaller Scale’.
Lying Dogs 2 by Andre Serfontein | Oil On Canvas
Top Left Image:Shadows by Margaux Derhy | Oil and Acrylic on paper and linen
Top Right Image: Mountain by Larita Engelbrecht | Oil and acrylic on board
Center Image:No Words Spoken by Johan Angus | Oil on linen