Az ágak mutatják meg, milyen a gyökér
(Hungarian proverb - The branches reveals what the roots are like)
Gawie Joubert’s third solo exhibition, Növényember (Hungarian, meaning plant human), is a continuation of the artist’s exploration of themes around memory, identity and mankind’s connection and dependence on nature.
Joubert created this body of work in Budapest, Hungary, during his residency at The Budapest Art Factory. The influence of this residency program is prevalent in Joubert’s new body of work: these shows a breakaway from his constrained, clean drawing technique, as he moves towards a more organic and expressive drawing technique. For this exhibition, Joubert experimented with ink and charcoal and the indelible serendipity of his mediums. Ink and charcoal allow the artist to create graceful, fluid imagery. Through an ongoing experimental process, Joubert attempts to surrender control over the artwork in order to allow his mediums to take the lead. In doing, so he plays with the potential mark making that ink and charcoal offers. This process forms the underlying layer from where Joubert creates his artworks. Furthermore, Joubert makes inks and charcoal from natural resources – a process he learned whilst in Budapest.
Joubert takes the complex connection between humans and nature as his conceptual starting point for his art-making. The artist believes that humans are dependent on nature for psychological and physical well-being. Therefore, he attempts to visually morph figures with greenery to symbolise the interdependence between humans and nature. The outcome of this conceptual starting point is a range of tranquilly floating figures that appear to be constructed from various types of plants. The artist's interest in the interdependence between man and nature, especially greenery, stems from his own childhood memories of growing up in a small town on the North Coast of Kwa-Zulu Natal, South Africa. Here, he was surrounded by the lush foliage that this region is known for. In forest close-by his childhood home, Joubert found solitude whilst coming to term with his confusion around his own sexuality. This is also where he learned to appreciate the meditative potential nature has and the impact that has on a person’s well-being. During his artistic process, he reminisces on childhood memories and feelings that are evoked when being in nature; the peaceful, happy and content moments of not being confined by preconceived social structures.
Joubert’s work is a combination between his own nostalgia and an exploration of the way identity is constructed. He believes that one’s identity is formed by memories, influences, and experiences and is therefore ever-changing. Joubert’s art-making draws parallels between the fluidity of identity and that manner in which plants creep, grow and change. The artist interprets the fluid manner in which one’s identity is formed as vines – climbing and creeping over Joubert’s tranquil figures. Much like one’s identity, the growth and transformation of plants are ever-changing.
Created in isolated in foreign surroundings, Növényember, offers the viewer an intimate glimpse into Joubert nostalgia. Joubert interweaves his own memories into this body of work, often working from memory of greenery from his childhood to create his small intimate drawings. In larger works, the artist bluntly manifests himself in his work by using his own figure as a reference for his larger drawings. Through constantly challenging himself to work from memories rather than directly from reference material – these artworks become a metaphorical visual diary of Joubert’s thoughts and memories, as they only exist in his mind. However, the image in mind is not always clear, but rather an intuitive process that is enhanced by Joubert’s experimental approach to mark-making.
Installation shots by Mar Andras.
Szia, Hungarian greeting used both for hello and goodbye when said to a single person.
Joubert created his Szia series using the technique developed during his time at the Budapest Art Factory Residency. The end result is a ghostlike image of the plant that gets transferred to the paper.
The series was distributed between the new friends he made over the 5 months spent in Budapest, Hungary. This was a small farewell gift but definitely not goodbye.
Seedling was a means for Joubert to create small artworks that could be posted around the world as part of an Indiegogo campaign to help fund his art residency at Budapest Art Factory in 2017. After creating more than 70 tiny artworks Joubert managed to secure the funding he needed.
Gawie Joubert’s work is an exploration of his own identity. Though his ink and charcoal figures, the artist interweaves his understanding of himself in relation to nature and memory.
Joubert takes his cue from his childhood memories. The artist grew up in a small town on the North coast of Kwa-Zulu Natal, South Africa. Here he began his adoration of nature. His parents educated him on fauna and flora and he fondly remembers spending countless hours playing, exploring, climbing and building forts in the forest.
Based on these early memories, the artist constructs charcoal figures that appear to be made of bark, twigs and leaves. These ethereal figures are a catalyst for his own identity. The artistinterprets the fluid manner in which one’s identity is formed as vines – climbing and creeping over these figures. Much like personal identity, the growth and transformation of a plant is ever-changing. The use of items like feathers, mushrooms and plastic thoughts are inspired by flash memories from Joubert’s childhood. He believes that his adult identity was formed by these memories of experience from his childhood and they will always be embedded in him.
Nature and drawing is and has always been a form of escapism for Joubert. During his artistic process, he reminisces on childhood memories and feelings that are evoked when being in nature. The peaceful, happy and content moments of not being confined by anyone or any social structures. Since a young age, Joubert felt uneasy with a patriarchal construct of identity. Nature gave him the opportunity to escape from his inner conflicts around his own gender constructs.
Joubert has always seen nature as his biggest inspiration. A place where nature and humans connect and create a synergy between nature and humans. A place where imagination has no limits and the mundane resurrects into new magical beings.
These works are a continuation of Joubert's previous series "Lignified."
Joubert investigated new techniques and have furthered the concept, whilst still exploring themes of identity. This series includes small details of mushrooms, representing symbiotic relationships that we have with social constructs and how it affect our own identities.
In these works Joubert explore the construction of identity, focussing on our portrayal of self. It's usually a wistful, wishful desire of being able to construct the self from organic components as opposed to social conventions and constructs, which dominate our movementsand choices.
The skeleton is freed from the layers of social imposition and expectation and we clad it back with very specific ideologies of what we want people to portray us as. The power of our own choice.
These abstract portraits show organic material in resistance with the forced forms of the person. They portray the idea that no matter how organic we think the process of identity is, it will always be constructed through norms
In this work, Joubert continue to investigate the complicated and sometimes intricate relationships between humans and their surroundings, this time shifting my focus to captivity.
Historically pigeons have been brought into the cities for racing purposes but - as prisoners so often do - the pigeons escaped, transforming the world’s cityscapes into their new habitat.
The question remains, if they are no longer able to live in nature and are trapped within human boundaries, how free are they really? Has the role of observer switched from human to pigeon?
Each piece is inspired and subsequently named after well-known prison escapes, like Alfred Hinds and the Texas seven.
Working in ink, ironically a material that is itself derived from the animal kingdom, Joubert enjoy exploring both the permanence and the serendipity of the medium.
Joburg is renowned as the largest man-made forest in the world. The city's construction engages with delicate contradictions and juxtapositions that lend itself to a quiet exploration of the rigidity of man made structure with the intertwining of organic spaces. The contradiction between the hard lines and materials of the city clashing with the softness and natural lines of the forest creates the potential to start questioning the concept of "naturalness". In these untitled works I explore the placing of natural objects like twigs and branches in a more constructed and controlled way creating abstract growth patterns that call into question what is organic and natural, and its necessity, in our contained, technological, man made existence.
Gold was discovered in the Johannesburg area in 1886, setting off a mass migration of people from all over the world into the settlement to find gold.
After studying for 4 years at Potchefstroom University, Joubert moved to Johannesburg to start his career (catalysing my own personal gold rush.) Within the first week of living in Johannesburg, he fell in love with the city.
Much like the permanence of the ink that Joubert uses, Johannesburg has left its own mark on him. The ink blotches represent his own growth onto the city and just like watermarks on a ceiling, the life rings of a tree and something growing in a peetri dish, so develops his love for Jozi.
Like the multi-faceted layers that create Johannesburg, Joubertadds another layer to some works by silk-screening the surrounding map of the artwork’s location onto the piece. The map dissects the image apart as if someone is attempting to discover more about the place.
Throw the Bones
A fashion story inspired by the mysteries of Africa.
Photography by JP Hanekom
Styling by Kyle Boshoff
Hair & Make Up by Kelli Fuchs
This illustration project, done on a hand-bound book of Fabriano paper, reflects Joubert's thoughts on a dystopian society that may begin as a result of people integrating human and animal genetic manipulation for the good of mankind. It is a reflection of how genetic manipulation may go wrong.
These tiny trees began as a commissioned piece and have ended up turning into an ongoing project. More trees will be uploaded as they are completed.