Berco Wilsenach (1974-) completed a BA(Fine Arts) (1996) and a MA(Fine Arts) (2002) from the University of Pretoria. He also furthered his studies at the Accademia di Belli Arte in Genova, Italy (2004) and the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf in Germany (2005-2006), with governmental bursaries from the respective countries. He has participated in numerous solo and group exhibitions both in South Africa and abroad in prominent galleries and museums such as the Pretoria Art Museum, Palazzo Ducale in Genoa, Villa Croce Museo d’Arte Contemporanea di Genova, Museum für Angewandte Kunst in Vienna, the Smithsonian Institute’s Museum for African Art in Washington D.C and the Newark Museum, NY. He was awarded a four year grant from the Spier Arts Trust Patronage Program (South Africa) to complete his large scale Project for the Blind Astronomer (2009-2013) which was exhibited at the Museum of African Design, Johannesburg, and the Stegman Gallery in Bloemfontein.
Apart from various merit awards, Wilsenach won the PPC Young Sculptor’s Award (1997) and the ABSA L’Atelier (2005). Wilsenach is to date teaching as part time lecturer at the University of Pretoria and presents workshops on a regular basis at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf.
A selection of crated light boxes
Wilsenach is known for his exploration of the meanings inherent in a diverse range of alternative materials. His recent use of glass has placed the qualities of fragility, transparency and light at the core of his work.
Wilsenach mostly works with glass sheets, either stacked together to form a solid shape or layered to create dimensionality through successive drawings. His work testifies to the ethereality and temporality of natural phenomena.
In an ever more urgent state of climate emergency, the unthinking exploitation of resources and the disappearance of a myriad of species worldwide, it will only be collected specimens and data that will remain as documentation of the world as we know it.
For this exhibition, clouds, stars and flowers are presented as if in a state of frozen permanence. By referencing the age of discovery and the multitude of specimens that were transported to Europe for investigation and exposition, Wilsenach tries to capture fleeting natural instances in wooden crates, an irony that underpins humans’ attempts at taking ownership of the unattainable.