Bitter-Sweet-Salt, Strauss Louw's MFA exhibition, comes as an intense and tender declaration of desire – where labour and yearning gently impress upon each other to erect portraits, to frame environments, created in the vision of a coveting lover.
Working intimately with notions of desire and fragmentation, Louw uses a salt-printing photographic technique – in some artworks, salt is used from water of the Atlantic ocean – on cotton and silk; the salt and light required for this process both transient and almost immaterial materials, and the body upon which the image comes to exist – the cotton, the silk – all materials originating from some natural environment.
For Louw, an integral part of Bitter-Sweet-Salt is its process, where the way the materials come together allows for a different way of being, and intimacy and photography become one and the same. Continually in contact with the process, Louw patiently works with his fleeting materials: the light coaxed and captured both for the making of the photograph and for the imprint of the image; the salt soaked into the fabric as essential to the work as it is to the human body. Within this process, Louw's partner, K, the subject of Bitter-Sweet-Salt, becomes, at once, the bodied environment and the body within the environment – the salt of his cum both bitter and sweet; the process of this creation an intense and tender labour.
Bitter-Sweet-Salt presents an endured relationship between Louw's hands, K's body and the work – where Louw has tenderly manipulated the light and salt as the product of his desire, and has delicately woven the fragmented silk photographs together with threads assiduously pulled from the fabric's body. In enacting the pleasure and pain of desire through making, Louw's body of work comes as an exploration of desire and fragmentation as both concept and methodology; as both substance and subject matter. It is an exhibition dedicated to the laborious nature of want, and a poetic reflection on the proximity of love.
Text by Ellen Agnew
1st Floor, De Wet Centre
+27 (0)21 887 3607
The gallery is open by appointment only until further notice.
Open by appointment only