Sarel Petrus lives and works in Pretoria and has exhibited in many group exhibitions across South-Africa in the last twelve years. He frequently travels to cities and to isolated places. In addition, he allows himself journeys of the mind into the strange relationship between traditional and throw-away-culture and what is left of nature as humans and other species fight for existence. City and town dwellers, largely cut off from natural continuity and natural spaces, are mostly unaware of what they leave behind wherever they go. But human existence and the natural environment are linked through timeless, hidden convergences of what we lack and what we have in surfeit. In his work, Sarel refers to an obscure past to imagine a new voice for the abstract realities of objects. Self inflicted pleasure, guilt, sacrifice, meditation of his own existence becomes apparent through art making. Steel letter punches are cast in bronze, which is too soft a metal to make them functional, but they are raised to an aesthetic element where the writing method and texture of writing becomes more important than what is actually written. The act of writing and the impermanence of the meaning of what is written, the head space for writing the experiences I feel need to be written down, the meditative function of recollecting and writing, the way instant memories escape the rules of language, how describing events too myself make them clear to me even though you were there, how reliant is your memory, how much does emotion affect memory, what do you choose to write down when you expect someone else is going to read it, how much of your own mind ramblings do you hope no-one ever reads, who do you confer with, who is the you in my writing, thinking internally and recalling externally. Memory is elusive, infused by emotion. No-one can present experience objectively or comprehensively, especially not to an unknown recipient. Not that one wants to let others read all the ramblings of one’s own mind, but how does one select? Finding a visual language to portray what is unfathomable is a solitary task. For me, hammering letter punches, one by one, consuming time, scarring physical surfaces of wood, wax or bronze with words is such a language. Intangible meaning made visible. Meaning remains vague. Each little bronze letter is a portrayal of an idea of a symbol by itself, igniting with meaning when read together. According to Sarel Petrus: My works are trophies for the lives of others, even though their stories are unknown to me. These unknown stories create spaces for us, to fill in our own stories and they thus become metaphors for our own memories and emotions. I select found objects for their visual impact and for the stories they don’t tell. Each object retains its own secret past. Our own end, death and decay might be predictable and unavoidable, but the paths we take and the distances we travel are clear.
Bronze and Steel