Frederik Eksteen completed his Master’s degree at the University of Pretoria in 2000. In addition to exhibiting both locally and internationally, he has won several awards including the Judges’ Prize in the Sasol New Signatures competition. Inspired by the interface between digital technology and traditional oil painting, Eksteen’s art is visually complex and conceptually layered, often referencing art historical traditions, while simultaneously harnessing new technology. His work is represented in several collections, including that of the Pretoria Art Museum, University of Pretoria, UNISA, Sasol, ABSA and MTN.
Eksteen is also a part-time guest lecturer in the University of Pretoria’s Department of Visual Arts.
A selection of paintings and prints
Although the title may seem to suggest otherwise, the body of work that comprise Cave Paintings does not look very much like Palaeolithic art. This irony is meant to cast the works in a particular light. As is now typical of Eksteen’s work, they were created with equal helpings of computer imaging and hands-on labour. This interdisciplinary approach produces unique composites that are very much part of our current reality. What the artworks do have in common with prehistoric art, however, is a fascination with a certain mythical understanding of images.
However distant, our perception of art and representation is coloured by superstition. We would forget about it if it wasn’t for iconoclastic events that now and then shake our image-ridden complacency. Think Charlie Hebdo’s Muhammad cartoons or Brett Murray’s The Spear. If the detractors of these images are to be believed, they harbour an innate evil that can only be remedied by their (and even their authors’) destruction.
This body of work tries to think about this ambiguity, where the image exists somewhere between the natural and supernatural. Pictures have always been oddly powerful stand-ins for things that exist elsewhere, or eerily, don’t even exist at all. This substitution of a thing – whether real or imagined – for its image, is perhaps nowhere as potent as in Palaeolithic portrayals of animals. To paint an animal was both an act of possession and control. The image was a fetish of sorts which brought the animal closer, yet its ultimate existence also speaks of a desperate, even insurmountable distance between animal and human worlds. It is a construct that is possibly as marvellous as what it depicts. This tension between what images can and cannot do is an enigma that we still can’t let go of, even in our supposedly indifferent and cynical present.