Exhibition: RECLAMATION by Janet Solomon

” The Witness(Pietermaritzburg)

20 Nov 1997

 

One is first struck by the spirituality which bathes her pictures. This spirituality comes first from the themes painted: two hands holding a scallop shell – the symbol of St John of Compostela- Buddha’s faces , St Christopher waiting in troubled waters. Some other images are more material but the same religious fervour presides over their execution: trees extending their branches as in adoration of a celestial horizon, plates painted like jewels. Miss Solomon dazzles us with her splendid work on light, liquid and hard as diamonds at the same time. Right at the junction of these two tendencies is a portrait of Lazarus, his flesh barley removed from the rotting process, hesitating between death, reluctant to give up its prey, and resurrection still disbelieved.

 

At the centre of the exhibition is a magnificent piece which illustrates perfectly the amazing blend of materiality and spirituality; it is a picture of tightly entwined pink flamingos, the convolutions of their necks like meanders of a feathery brain. If there is a painter who has succeeded in capturing what our society in transition really is, the swaying between new, higher moral aspirations and basic down to earth needs, the hesitation between the search for a new way of living and the pressurizing race for money, the desire to live fully pitted against the constant fear of violence and the multiplied risks of death, it is Janet Solomon. She succeeds where so many other artists fail; her talent embraces perfectly our time and our country without ever sinking into vulgar realism.