Evocative Abrie Fourie Solo Show at the Gutstein Gallery

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By Lanier Laney

“Art obliquely reflects social change.” — Abrie Fourie

SCAD Exhibitions Director Laurie Ann Farrell is the unsung hero behind the success of the current show Abrie Fourie’s Oblique (through Nov. 8) at the Gutstein Gallery in Savannah, according to both South African born, Berlin-based artist Abrie Fourie whose solo show it is and Curator Storm Janse van Rensburg.  So much of art history is actually “made” by hard-working, behind-the-scenes individuals like Laurie, I was glad to hear them give her the credit due for pulling off  such a well-displayed, intimate show in this cavernous space.

Polígon de sa Platja, Port de Sóller, Balearic Islands, Spain, by Abrie Fourie.
Polígon de sa Platja, Port de Sóller, Balearic Islands, Spain, by Abrie Fourie.

Also refreshingly intimate in tone was the public presentation which was a continuation of a form of presentation started in Berlin by Abrie and Storm whereby a panel of 12 or so artists and curators sit facing the audience on their level in an elongated ellipse and each shows a favorite photo and talks about what the image means to them.

The quiet, almost confessional, introspection that resulted was the perfect lead in to viewing Abrie’s carefully contemplated works on display whose power and poignancy might be missed by the usual quick off-the-street walk through.

The artist’s photographs conjure up in my mind the phrase “something soft left behind” with images ranging from dirty snow to a forgotten homeless person under a discarded blanket, to a blood spatter next to a trampled blossom on a sidewalk in an apartheid era South Africa.  The beautifully soft, the lost, and forgotten left behinds, contrasted with the hard-edged urban settings in which they are found, speak of a reality that has just happened — and been forgotten.  From the banal to the horrific.

Attending the exhibit opening were SCAD founder Paula Wallace, Senior Curator Melissa Messina and Biennial Director David Elliott along with fellow South African artist Siemon Allen and artist Kendall Buster. “Oblique” was first presented at Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin, Germany, by project Curator Storm Janse van Rensburg who recently co-curated the well-received “GhostBusters II” at the Savvy Contemporary in Berlin with Nadin Siegert.

Gutstein Gallery is located at 201 E. Broughton St., Savannah, open Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. For more information, call 912-525-4743.