Gert Potgieter

Gert Potgieter holds a BA (FA) degree from the University of South Africa. He majored in sculpture with a particular interest in metal sculpture and land art. As a student his work was exhibited at the universities of Pretoria, Wits, Cape Town, Natal and Unisa. He completed his thesis on land art under the title: Environmental Art as an Alternative Landscape. Aesthetic Investigation into Environmental Problems in South Africa. (1991). His experience in this field led to him being involved in environmental management and in particular environmental aesthetics on a full time basis for 15 years.
During 2006 he decided to become involved in art in a gallery context again. He dusted some of his older works on request of Fried Contemporary Art Gallery and started exhibiting again.
During 2007 he received a commission from the South African Development Bank to create a life size metal sculpture of a Boabab tree for the entrance to their head office in Midrand. During the course of that year he completed various metal relief panels on commission for smaller art collectors.
During 2008 Gert completed various smaller metal works that are currently on permanent exhibition in the restaurant of The Casta Diva Boutique Hotel in Nina Park, Pretoria. The latter works formed part of the "Things, Thoughts and Images exhibition held in the beginning of 2009 together with the photographer, Hein Wascheford. These sculptures formed part of the Classic Feel Magazine music festival in August 2009 that was held at Caste Diva.
Gert is actively involved in teaching art and in particular metal sculpture to anyone who approaches him. Gert taught art and metal sculpture on behalf of Fried Contemporary Art and is currently head of Fine Arts at Visual Skills School on a part time basis. He also teaches private students.
In the beginning of 2009 Gert was approached by artists from Mabopane, Soshanguve and Ga-Rankuwa to become involved in their attempt to structure a fine arts foundation. The Bataki Ba Tshwane (Artists of Tshwane) foundation was subsequently formed. It is a non-profit organisation dedicated towards making it possible for professional artist to earn a respectable living through making art in their communities. This endeavor includes training, establishment of studio and exhibition facilities, marketing and sponsorships. Bataki Ba Tshwane functions as a branch of the South African National Association for the Visual Arts. Bataki Ba Tshwane had their first exhibition on the 2nd October 2009 at the Visi di Arte Galery and included the work of pioneer South African artists such as Ike Nkoane, David Phoshoko, Eric Lubisi, Moss Mohroe, Lefifi Thladi and Roy Ndinisa.
During 2010 Gert participated in the Resurrection exhibition at the Unisa Art Gallery, Pretoria. The exhibition was arranged by the Unisa Psychology Department as part of their community involvement programme and featured work of artists of the greater Tshwane Region. Some of Gerts earlier works reflecting the initial development of the metal modeling technique is currently on exhibition at the National Cultural Historical Museum, Pretoria. He furthermore exhibited his work together with those of his students during March and September 2010 as part of the Visual Skills School student exhibitions. He spent most of 2010 on commission work for Le-Thabo Game Guesthouse which included a quarter scale welded metal sculpture of a kudu and two welded metal life size gazelles.
During 2010 Gert has completed two technical handbooks; Sculpture: Materials, Tools and Techniques and LandArt that is currently in the process of publication by Razor Publications.
Gert has a passion for working with found metal objects. Material that has served its purpose and being regarded as useless and worthless is of particular interest. Through the art making process you can give a second life to it again. You can give new value to it. You can transform such materials into works of art that comfortably fits into art galleries whereas it would probably landed in a junkyard.
Gert works predominantly with metal and will on occasion combine it with wood. His older works consisted of construction of found objects into figures and landscapes with sometimes very little changes made to the original material. At present the found objects will rather serve as source material to create sculpture with sometimes very little to no reference to the original. His technique has changed from predominantly construction to what can easily be termed as modeling with metal. This technique has only been made possible through technological development in the welding industry since the last two to three years. Little blobs of metal are melted through the welding process and constructed around an armature in the same manner that clay is applied around an armature. It is however far more difficult. You do not have direct contact between your fingers and the sculpture but the extension of a welding rod (sometimes two) to contend with and of course through a welding helmet you can see absolutely nothing until the arc has been established. However the effort is worth the while as no other medium can so directly provide the visual qualities that this technique does. As far as can be established the modeling with metal technique is unique to Gerts art.
His subject matter revolves around what he sees and experience in the course of his daily life. His figures often captures that fleeting moment a mother looks down at her baby or that moment a depressive contemplates the final leap. A body never moves without the brain instructing it to. It often is that moment that interests me. His work also deals with natural and man-made environments. He will take elements from the latter and translate it into wood or metal. Hereby composing his own landscapes reflecting those elements that are of interest to him a barbwire fence, a cow on a hill, a crack in dry soil or an architectural structure.
I see things I like and things I dislike, things that makes me happy and things that make me sad and I respond to that. I respond to it in a manner that is accessible to everybody. Through my art I can interpret and reflect. I can accept and I can reject. I can research and conclude. Most importantly I can comment. I can tell people how I feel and hopefully assist them to formulate positive responses to my work and art in general.
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