“Broken Tools contains a selection of new prints and sculptures, which we will present alongside works originally shown on Dale’s four solo exhibitions in Cape Town between 2016 and 2019,” says Anke Bergsma, a director at Nuweland with Wiebren Bergsma. “Dale is a committed artist who, over the course of four solo exhibitions and various collaborative engagements, notably with his partner, artist Claire Johnson, has completely reconfigured his practice. Craft, process and experiment are central to his ambitious, conceptually motivated works. We are delighted to introduce Dale to our European audience and list of collectors.”
Lawrence (b. 1988) initially trained as a designer before, in 2010, completing his post-graduate studies at the prestigious Michaelis School of Fine Art at the University of Cape Town. He won the 2010 Katrine Harries Print Cabinet Award, an important early-career accolade. Printmaking was foundational to Lawrence’s early practice and featured prominently in his first two solo exhibitions, Look Busy (2016) and Another Helping (2017). Print remains an important site of creative exploration.
Broken Tools will include several examples of Lawrence’s print output, including 32 monotypes created in response to the 2020-21 Covid pandemic, as well as earlier linocuts from 2016-17 exploring themes of labour, value and work, all recurring leitmotifs in Lawrence’s broader practice. These bodies of existing work will provide context to Lawrence’s ambitious new 2021 series, Relief on Hospital Floor, two large-scale abstract compositions resembling glitches. The images are based on randomized digital designs that the artist transposed to vinyl flooring from a large hospital in Cape Town and printed by hand using a using a spoon to compress the ink into the paper.
Following his 2016 debut exhibition, Lawrence began to adopt a more deconstructive approach to making. Broken Tools will feature examples of his sculptural installations from his 2019 exhibition Further Prototypes. They include Nameless and Friendless (2019), a work composed of two found wooden chairs, lightly altered by the artist, and Self-portrait Under the Lamp (2019), a consideration of desk-bound labour. Nuweland is delighted to present an updated version on Tragedy of the Rainbow Warriors (after Jannis Kounellis and Francois Pienaar) (2019/21), a key work in Lawrence’s evolving output.
Tragedy of the Rainbow Warriors offers an allusive yet insistently materialist engagement with ideas of social transition, reconciliation and commodification in post-apartheid South Africa. The work derives its title from a 1995 newspaper article featuring an image of Nelson Mandela handing the Rugby World Cup trophy to South African team captain Francois Pienaar. Lawrence’s installation is composed of a wall pasted with potato crisp packaging, coat stand with two green jerseys worn by supporters of the national rugby team, each hardened in resin, as well as a paraffin lamp on a shelf. The work is an imaginative reworking of Tragedia Civile (1975), a celebrated installation by Greek-Italian artist Jannis Kounellis.
“I’m glad to be showing an updated version of this work at Nuweland’s space in Oosterzee-Buren,” says Dale Lawrence. “Much has happened since I first made this work in 2019, including another win for the national team at the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Yokohama, Japan, which brought with it a fleeting sense of unity and reconciliation. I’ll also be showing a new series of works made with animal fat, some of which feature charcoal pigment sourced from Devil’s Peak in Cape Town after a catastrophic fire in April 2021. For me these works are simultaneously obvious about the violence contained in them while presenting themselves quite gracefully as artworks, looking like marble for example.”
Lawrence’s new fat works explore the inconsistencies in our attitudes towards the acceptability of violence, accumulation and greed. They also exhibit formal continuities with his earlier torn linocut prints, notably pieces shown on his exhibition Another Helping (2017). Broken Tools will also include examples of Lawrence’s text-based work, including Not Sure, Yet (2018), a list of questions exploring labour and affect, and Serra’s List, Revised (2018), a list of verbs rendered in base form that speak to the energies and doubts informing creative work.
A limited-edition catalogue surveying Lawrence’s practice, with texts by the artist and art critic Sean O’Toole, will accompany the exhibition.