blueprints for paranoid living (as part of NEW CONNECTIONS)
KZNSA Gallery, Durban, South Africa
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Excerpt from Critical review of the Durban University of Technology Staff Exhibition
KwaZulu-Natal Society of Arts: 10 - 18 March 2009
Juliette Leeb-du Toit (Prof)
"Bronwen Vaughan-Evans has elected to use the much neglected yet highly desirable (and costly) process of intaglio on gesso. In a shallow schiacciato she renders subtle marks and blurring in a form of halation that echoes the blurred contours of Corot's work. Her work on exhibition, ‘blueprints for paranoid living', reflects traces of the distinctive classical/modernist representational idiom she acquired in the strong preliminary courses of the University of Natal's Centre for Visual Art where she was initially trained. In this work she indicts the increasing scrutiny to which individuals worldwide are unwittingly subject - by the state, clandestine enforcement agencies and above all by others. Aware that the purpose of such invasive scrutiny is located in the desire to exercise control and deprive individuals of privacy, self-efficiency and respect, Vaughan-Evans addresses personal fear (the young girl closes her eyes with her hands), isolation and vulnerability (in the figures walking across an empty space) and the ostensible gaze into even of seemingly impenetrable, articulated fissures in the urban cityscape. Bastions of development and modernity, the overhead view of the cityscape also however reminds that urban planning and articulation has a long history of association with control, access and ghettoization. The works poignantly evoke concerns regarding the increasing loss of intimacy and privacy that remind of Orwellian concerns with a particularly apt currency as South Africa faces challenges associated with constitutionally guaranteed freedoms that are being tested and at times gradually eroded. As blueprints that reproduce the paranoia of urban South Africans she captures the essence of a pervasive tension that marks South African experience for all its citizens. Vaughan-Evans has achieved a remarkable syncretism of complex tensions reflecting the ethos of our time and the human condition as a whole in motifs, spaces and places she depicts, in this transcending more literal attempts to capture the ethos of the time. "