We are Mirrors
30 September - 21 October 2023
WHATIFTHEWORLD presents We Are Mirrors, a solo exhibition by Strauss Louw.
When we think of coupling, our minds travel to those points of connection where different bodies, spaces or concepts come together. Coupling speaks of things that exist in close proximity or show some conceptual affinity, while it also finds expression in the intimate act of pairing up.
In his latest body of work, Strauss Louw makes use of a range of practices and visual references to speak to the idea of coupling. In a significant departure from his previous work, Louw uses natural mineral pigments sourced from crystals and gemstones to expose the photographic image on a glass surface. We see warm, rust-brown tints of Hematite, lush green shades of Jade, rose pink blushes of Rhodonite, and Amethyst in its rich purple splendour.
Each shimmering pane carries an image that asks for closer inspection. We are lured in, we want to see more. The hint of hair circling a navel, the curve of a downy buttock, the nape of an exposed neck. His work dwells in those spaces – the bedroom, the bathroom – that we only share with our most intimate others.
Louw strategically harnesses the reflective surface as a means to engage the viewer. Mirrors and metallic surfaces crafted from gold and silver leaf pull the viewer into the picture, making them complicit in the intimate scene that is unfolding before their eyes. The result of this playful engagement is an ever-changing composite image in which viewer and subject overlap, the one literally lying and moving over the other in the mirrored surface. It’s impossible to be an invisible voyeur, as you will always find yourself staring back. Your presence was always anticipated, these works seem to whisper. This is your invitation to linger.
Text by Prof Ernst van der Wal, Department of Visual Arts, Stellenbosch University.