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COLLECT: NOTIONS OF HOME

This week our curators at Latitudes turn their attention to a curated selection of work made primarily under the varying and ongoing lockdown restrictions. With little or no access to their studios, many artists were forced into new strategies of making and thinking, as manifest in the largely domestic scenes evidenced in this body of work.

Notions of the domestic, the personal, the habitual and even just simply that which is readily available to hand in that unique hybrid of home/studio – have informed artistic creation within the context of other restrictions and limitations throughout art history. Domestic life has been a fundamental source of inspiration for artists faced with financial limitations, sickness and even brutal weather. Vincent Van Gogh's still lives made in the face of limited financial resources, George Pemba's hospital drawings created post-surgery for a burst appendix or Lucian Freud's self-portraits made largely out of necessity as that was the only model he could afford, all attest to artistic strategies within contexts defined by limitation.

Oscillating between portraiture and still lives, the works selected here visualise newfound domestic homescapes – both as responses to, and as direct functions of an invisible pandemic. Evidencing new takes on genre painting – from Wessel Hamman's sidewalk cafe Prego rolls seen under the new optic of the pandemic; to that ample banana on the kitchen table as monumentalised by Sanell Aggenbach; and on to Callan Grecia and John Madu's heartfelt odes to night clubs so missed – these are registers of both everyday domesticity, as well as love songs to those pleasures whose absence is felt so strongly under the varying and ongoing restrictions of the COVID-19 lockdowns.

"Although genre painting appears to reproduce everyday life, in fact, it renders a version of it shaped according to certain social, political or class imperatives… in other words, it employs a realistic style to create a fantasy of private life". [1]

[1] Angela L. Miller, Janet C. Berlo, Bryan Wolf and Jennifer L. Roberts, "The Cultural Work of Genre Painting" in American Encounters, (Upper Saddle River: Pearson Higher Education), 193.

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