Vivien Kohler : Homecoming

Martin Projects, in association with Alliance Française and META Foundation is pleased to present Vivien Kohler, Homecoming.

This body of work is a direct evolution of my previous abstract body of work which was centred around the idea of pareidolia. “Pareidolia” being the tendency to perceive a specific, often meaningful image in a random or ambiguous visual pattern. I have used this as the impetus for the geometric backgrounds in these new pieces. This pattern illustrates the tenacity of the people of the continent of Africa who make the best of their circumstances to reach their hoped for goal.

As an extension of this background idea is the addition of the foreground figure at this point in my work. The included figures are a personification of my Pareidolia geometry. They are individuals who esteem Africa and its people. They are determined to overcome and persevere.

Some of the titles which have been specifically chosen, refer to ancient Roman and Greek statues. I have selected these titles to elevate the African concept of self. It is the instilling of African pride amidst an external imposed persona.

The Kingdom of Aksum (100 to 940 CE) and the Songhai Empire (c. 1464–1493) were 2 dominant African empires, which at the time rivalled the civilisations of their European counterparts, have now been relegated to the annals of unconscious history. Much of their knowledge has been lost in our contemporary consciousness degrading the African notion to that of living in huts and that of slavery. These 2 works endeavour to imagine what life was like during the times of these majestic African empires by showing their particular ruling elite as esteemed contemporarily identifiable characters.

The Kingdom of Aksum (or Axum; also known as the Aksumite Empire) was a trading nation in the area of northern Ethiopia and Eritrea that existed from approximately 100 to 940 CE.

The Songhai Empire (also transliterated as Songhay) was a state that dominated the western Sahel/Sudan in the 15th and 16th century. At its peak, it was one of the largest states in African history. Initially, the empire was ruled by the Sonni dynasty (c. 1464–1493).

Vivien Kohler was born in Cape Town in 1976, and lives and works in Johannesburg, South Africa. He received his National Diploma in Fine Art from the Ruth Prowse School of Art and Design, Cape Town, 2000. In 2017 Kohler received the Thami Mnyele Sculpture Merit Award, in 2013 won the Lovell Gallery Artist Competition, and in 2012 won the ItWeb/Brainstorm Competition with an entry commissioned by Vodacom. His work is housed in both private and public collections including the Nando’s Collection, the Hollard Collection, Vodacom Collection, SAB, Fusion UK, UNISA Gallery Collection, Artbank SA, William Humphreys Art Gallery Collection and Freedom Park Collection (PTA).

August 5 – August 28 2021