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Cape Town based artist Dave Robertson has been producing artwork and exhibiting since the mid 90’s. Robertson is well known for his focus on people at the margins of society and much of the imagery in his artworks reflects this interest. To this end, his first book of photographs entitled, Plakkerskamp 2003-2012 documents a marginalized community near Bonnievale, in the Western Cape. This book won the Lëtzebuerger Buchpräis 2013 national book award, in Luxembourg.
At the Spier Contemporary 2010 competion, Robertson won an award for Paper Trails, a documentary photographic project focusing on informal recyclers in Newtown, Johannesburg. Immediately following this achievement, he began to focus intensively on painting.
In this, his first solo exhibition in Johannesburg, Robertson has combined his passion for photography with his passion for painting by blending these two art-forms into a series of sensitive and captivating artworks. Robertson’s final images are photographs that have been transformed beyond the reality that they originally portray, through a synthesis of gestural brushstrokes and expressive smears with photographed panoramic scenes. As such, Robertson has fused two worlds using the thin layers of two separate media; the layer of photographic emulsion and the layer of paint. Stories develop which merge realistic narratives with mythical ones, reminiscent of the magical realism mode of writing, by African authors like Mia Couto from Mozambique, Ben Okri from Nigeria and Zakes Mda from South Africa.
Robertson captured these images, which form the basis for this series of artworks, during extensive travels through Africa including Egypt, Ethiopia, Mali, Malawi, Namibia and South Africa.
“I have always been fascinated by the magical aspect of traditional photography – the serendipity, after processing one’s film, of finding something in the image that was unintentional but welcome at the same time. After being introduced to a vintage Widelux panoramic camera, I became intrigued by two distinctive effects this camera produces: the first is selective focus, which throws some parts of the image into sharp focus and causes others to blur; the second is the unpredictable interaction between the movement of the camera and the movement of the subjects. These effects produce abstract images which are often difficult to explain technically and impossible to re-shoot with the same results. This camera satisfied my desire for a more figurative way of communicating photographically and kept alive the wonder of unexpected photographic results”.