Art Exhibition: Son of a shopfitter

ATKV-Kuns- en Boeke-oase (Nelspruit Laerskool Kultuursentrum)

Tuesday 25th June – Saturday 29th June

Walkabouts: Thursday, 27 June 10:00 and 14:30; Friday 28 June 10:00; Saturday 2 June 10:00 and 14:30.

Luan Nel is an artist whose journey is intricately woven through the tapestry of familial legacy and the ceaseless pursuit of artistic independence. As we embark on this exploration of Nel’s exhibition, “Son of a Shopfitter,” we are invited into the intimate sanctum of his childhood, where the act of drawing and painting became a refuge from the constraints of pre-drawn lines and prescribed colours.

Nel’s early years unfold in a backdrop of a shopfitter father, whose artistic inclination and ‘moenie-met-my-fok-nie’ attitude left an indelible mark on the artist. Through the lens of memory, we witness the creative escapades fuelled by wood glue and printer paper, constructing narratives in the open veld behind newly developing suburban houses.

The narrative evolves, echoing the influence of Dad’s shopfitting on Nel’s discovery of fashion, mannequins, and the dream of becoming a window dresser. “Son of a Shopfitter” becomes a testament to Nel’s navigation of identity, with a spotlight on his experiences as a gay Afrikaner son.

As we delve into the thematic threads of Nel’s work, the concept of ‘display’ emerges, from childhood murals to intricate paintings like “Cacophony” and “Memoriam.” The exhibition gracefully guides us through the interplay of nostalgia, loss, and the artist’s attempt to find closure.

Nel’s journey takes a poignant turn with the exploration of his father’s art, a reconciliation with the past, and an attempt to step into the shoes of the man he lost to suicide. The narrative unfolds with rich symbolism, exploring masculinity, identity, and the legacy of an artistic lineage.

The exhibition continues to unravel through the vibrant canvases of Nel’s alter ego, Donatella Visagie, a character born from the artist’s fascination with costume and drag. Through performances like Matita Magica, Nel bridges the worlds of art and everyday life, blurring the lines between reality and performance.

As we navigate through Nel’s compelling visual language, “Son of a Shopfitter” emerges as a profound exploration of the self, intertwined with family, identity, and the relentless pursuit of artistic expression. Join us in this immersive experience, where each stroke of the brush becomes a whisper of Nel’s unique journey – a journey that transcends the canvas and speaks directly to the heart.

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