Introducing Hedwig Barry
We give a warm welcome to our newest artist, Hedwig Barry, who have worked with our curator Anthea Buys for several years.
Hedwig Barry (b. 1969) is a Cape Town-based artist working in drawing, painting and sculpture. Her career as producer, director and educator across artistic disciplines continues to inform a dedicated studio practice that is rich, confident and prolific.
Through a language of abstraction Barry explores the metaphors of “grounding” and “groundlessness,” and the politics of love, desire, care and repair. She sees her practice as a coming together of the personal and the public, the emotional and the intellectual, and the bodies, grounds, materials, desires and gestures which give meaning to these relationships.
Hedwig will be participating in RMB Latitudes, Johannesburg, from 26 – 28 May 2023, and will have a solo exhibition with the gallery in July 2023. Follow Hedwig on Artsy.
Boyfriend, Gutsy and I am an Island, from The Love Letter series
“Love is the most important thing in our lives, a passion for which we would fight or die, and yet we’re reluctant to linger over its names. Without a supple vocabulary, we can’t even talk or think about it directly” 
In the Love Letter series (2019 to the present), I remix love, desire and the erotic through the outpouring of coagulating and expanded materials, drawing from the inside out that which is dormant in darkness. This visual language of love manifests a flooding of intimacy as form. The Love Letter series is abject and messy, bulging and suggesting growth and change. Like with love, these works hold the feelings of not knowing, of un-resolution, of risk taking - and also of wonder and an alertness to being anew.
In giving love nascent visual form, I meld practices and desires - to realise ongoing transformations towards that which I have experienced and continue to imagine - into actuality. I gestate relationship anarchy through autonomy, anti-normatively, anti-hierarchical community interdependence as fulfilling the way of love. https://www.instagram.com/p/CoxDwzfjicx/
automotive paint on polyurethane
59 x 50 x 60 cm
automotive paint on polyurethane
50 x 50 x 12 cm
I am an Island
automotive paint on polyurethane
15 x 50 x 60 cm
 Diane Ackerman in A Natural History of Love, 1995
Crumple (Jeanette Schoon) was incorporated into the Constitution Court of South Africa's art collection in September 2022 and stands proudly at the foot of the Great African Steps, on Constitution Hill Johannesburg.
This sculpture speaks of care and retrieval, violence and protection, just as it offers the viewer an opportunity to relish its colours and surfaces and to be carried away in a sensory experience. Painted as much as it is sculpted, the work pushes the limits of these media and tells us that something doesn't need to be flat and hang on a wall to be a painting, nor monochromatic in patina to be a sculpture.
Crumple (Jeanette Schoon) is also an homage to the late anti-apartheid activist Jeanette Schoon, who, together with her six-year-old daughter Katryn, was killed by a parcel bomb while living in exile in Angola in 1984. Sent by Craig Williamson, a supposed family friend, the letter had been addressed to her husband, Marius Schoon, but Jeanette opened it while busy in her kitchen. Her death was symbolic of the incursion of the struggle into all spheres of life, including "women's spaces": the home, the kitchen.
The proportions of the sculpture suggest both an explosion and an exuberant resurrection. It recalls an act of terrible violence, but also offers hope for repair and care. It's a feminist symbol of hope and power in violent times.
The piece is also rich in allusions to the work of other artists. The colour treatment brings to mind the painting installations of German artist Katharina Grosse, and the material, crumpled aluminium sheets, recalls John Chamberlain's sculptures made of crushed car bodies. Closer to home, residents of Johannesburg will recognise in the work an echo of William Kentridge and Gerard Marx's "Firewalker".
Crumple (Jeanette Schoon) (2021) is the second of Hedwig Barry's monumental outdoor "crumple" sculptures, an emergent series of large-scale sculptures conceived for outdoor environments. Made out of crumpled and welded aluminium sheets, these works are meticulously painted using automotive spray paint.The first work in the series, simply titled Crumple (2020), was commissioned for the BMW South Africa Headquarters in Midrand, where it is permanently installed.
MAKING THE LOVE LETTER FOR THE LOST TRAVELLERS (2021)
Commissioned by BMW for BMWSouth Africa's Head Office.
The project was made possible through collaboration with Wits University's Wits School of Arts.
Completed January 2021, - for BMW South Africa in collaboration with Wits University's Wits School of Arts.
HERE IS WHERE WE MEET
The NIROX Foundation residency, January 2022
HERE IS WHERE WE MEET at NIROX Sculpture Park
An insert about my exhibition, broadcast on Africa Live, a focus programme of the CGTN - Chinese Global Television Network, in February 2022
Through a collaboration between Wits and BMW, Hedwig Barry was commissioned by BMW to create two large-scale outdoor interventions for the BMW campus in Midrand, South Africa. Both art commissions - the “Crumple” and “Love Letter for Lost Travellers” were completed in early 2021.
These works are about the relationships between the personal and the public, the emotional and the intellectual, and about the bodies, grounds, materials, desires and gestures which give meaning to these relationships. Barry always explores these relationships through a feminist aesthetic of repair.
Process videos of the making of the works:
Image shows fellow artists
Tshung Hui Lauren Lee, Themba Mwasa, Michaela Wenzel, Hedwig Barry, Prof David Andrew from Wits University's Wits School of Arts and Shayna Rosendorff.
Midrand, South Africa. BMW Group South Africa supports the Fine Arts through a unique collaboration with the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits) School of Arts in Johannesburg. The BMW Group Midrand Campus lent itself as the perfect canvas for the art students, as a site that was recently completely upgraded and refurbished. The Art Project is part of the BMW Group Building Projects that have already benefited over 500 students from around the globe for more than three decades.
Chief Executive Officer of BMW South Africa and Sub-Saharan Africa Peter van Binsbergen expressed his enthusiasm over the Art Project and its results: “We are thrilled to have the Wits School of Arts and its talented students on our list of collaborators. The results of this successful partnership are thought-provoking works that enhance the interaction between guests and associates, alike, with the revamped campus.”
Wits School of Arts Associate Professor David Andrew acknowledged the value of the project saying: “This has been an extended learning opportunity for the students, developed within the longstanding practices established at the Wits School of Arts, while taking into account the context in which they have been required to work. All pieces are on permanent display and I am looking forward to seeing how the collection on the BMW Group Midrand Campus is further extended.”
Process led to six artworks installed on campus
The entire process started in 2019 when the well-respected South African university “Wits” was selected by the BMW Group Art Jury as the newest member of the worldwide network of BMW Group partnerships with art schools. Ten Wits students were challenged to create art pieces presented as maquettes. The students were inspired by the BMW Group’s ethos of luxury, sustainable mobility and green solutions, and the company’s history and corporate architecture. Six maquettes were chosen by the art experts and presented to the BMW Group Art Jury for commissioning their realisation. They were installed at six locations on the campus to be seen by visitors and associates in their workspace.
“The latest Art Project is a creative, innovative and unique expression of the BMW Group’s dedication to supporting local talent, sustainability and the values of the BMW Group”, said Nicole Haft-Zboril, Senior Vice President Real Estate Management. “We have a long history of including art as integral elements in our building projects and see it as a vital contribution to a modern workspace.”
to see the full series of works click below