Johan Thom / The Devil Made Me Do It / 2015

About

Goodman Gallery Johannesburg presents THE DEVIL MADE ME DO IT, a solo exhibition by Johan Thom.

Thom is a multidisciplinary artist, frontrunner of a Now Generation of South African practitioners drawing on dramatic histories while creating self-reflexive journeys. His work encompasses two disparate elements: dark humour and light tragedy. It deals with the dividing line between the self and the other where the former fulfils the role of a crazy loner seeking agency, while the latter is a real life arbitrator of reason and knowing. The irony of his work lies in the artist’s prejudice against the self, and in his act of looking outward towards something materially positive. Thom works across a variety of media including sculpture, video, performance, drawing, printmaking and photography. As protagonist Thom places himself in different contexts where he is set to endure often-painful outcomes.
But pain is incidental, and although the audience may perceive that the artist is consciously using his art to liberate himself from ordeal, that is not so.

Thom calls pain, ‘more a basic material requirement of the art work. It’s a game of perception. I enjoy making my viewers squirm or getting them involved via empathy. In that sense I am a real bastard.’ His work has involved the act of physically entwining his face and chest with fishing gut (in Bind/Ontbind2, Venice, 2003), licking sand off anthills (in Licked Colony, SA, 2011), painting his face with gold leaf, honey, flour and oil while defacing a gallery wall (in Figurehead, Rotterdam, 2010), and having sump oil and milk poured into his outstretched hands containing Buddha statuettes sewn into his skin (in Thank You, Bodh Gaya in India, 2011). The forthcoming exhibition at Goodman Gallery Johannesburg sees Thom casting himself as a new, yet classically familiar, character in the evolving dramatis personae of his oeuvre. Doctor Faustus is a known type in the history of world drama.
A seeker of knowledge at a price, Faustus is also a popular signifier with a familiar personality, and image, in European culture that has enjoyed undue dominance, even in Southern Africa.

The exhibition will consist of a series titled Faust the African made up dozens of heads cast from a 19th Century bust of Faust, in builder’s foam, and inlaid with found objects making a macabre and carnivalesque gallery of types . These include an explorer, a gambler, a musician as well as the well-worn men one would find on a travelling vessel, taking an epic journey of exploration. Video, discarded books, drawings on blackboard ink and cast bronze artifacts complete the hellish depiction of a semi-fictitious person seeking out dangerous territories.

Biography

Thom was born in Johannesburg in 1976. In 2008 he relocated to London to pursue a PHD on ‘Materiality in contemporary fine art’ at the Slade School of Fine Art on a Commonwealth scholarship. His works have been included in exhibitions His works have been included in exhibitions at the Venice Biennale (2003); the Canary Islands Biennale (2006); the Palazzo delle Papesse (2008); the Johannesburg Art Gallery (2004, 2005); and at the Iwalewa Haus (2010) in Germany. He is an active presence in the art research community and has participated in conferences and workshops at dOCUMENTA (13) (2012); the University of Cambridge (2009); GradCam in Dublin (2010); the Finnish Academy of Fine Art (2010); the Slade School of Fine Art (2010, 2011, 2012); ‘Real Presence’ at the Venice Biennale (2005); the University of Bayreuth (2010) and elsewhere. He is a lecturer in Fine Art at the University of Pretoria. In 2013 his work was included on the group show [Working Title] at the Goodman Gallery.

  • Faust the African; The Devil's Crutch

    Johan Thom

    Faust the African; The Devil's Crutch, 2015

    Found objects, builders foam and mixed media

    124 x 30 m

  • Faust the African; Doctor

    Johan Thom

    Faust the African; Doctor, 2015

    Found objects, builders foam and mixed media

  • Faust the African; Fallen Angel

    Johan Thom

    Faust the African; Fallen Angel, 2015

    Found objects, builders foam and mixed media

    73 x 150 x 65 m

  • Faust the African; The Merchant

    Johan Thom

    Faust the African; The Merchant, 2015

    Found objects, builders foam and mixed media

    122 x 44 x 47 m

  • Faust the Africa; Death

    Johan Thom

    Faust the Africa; Death, 2015

    Found objects, builders foam and mixed media

    150 x 55 cm

  • Faust the African; Prospector

    Johan Thom

    Faust the African; Prospector, 2015

    Found objects, builders foam and mixed media

    165 x 176 m

  • Faust the African; The Dictator

    Johan Thom

    Faust the African; The Dictator , 2015

    Found objects, builders foam and mixed media

    172 X 32 M

  • Self portrait in copper

    Johan Thom

    Self portrait in copper, 2015

    Copper cast

    142 x 62 x 80 m

  • Faust the African; The Explorer

    Johan Thom

    Faust the African; The Explorer, 2015

    Found objects, builders foam and mixed media

    50 x 40 m

  • Faust the African; The Narcissist

    Johan Thom

    Faust the African; The Narcissist, 2015

    Found objects, builders foam and mixed media

    130 x 500 m

  • Code of Conduct

    Johan Thom

    Code of Conduct, 2015

    Found objects, pine wood and mixed media

    289 x 40 m

  • Faust the African; The Enfant Terrible

    Johan Thom

    Faust the African; The Enfant Terrible, 2015

    Found objects, builders foam, mixed media

    110 x 600 m

  • Faust the African; The Navigator

    Johan Thom

    Faust the African; The Navigator, 2015

    Found objects, builders foam and mixed media

    156 x 61 m

  • Coal stove

    Johan Thom

    Coal stove, 2015

    Found objects, builders foam and mixed media

    177 x 140 x 110 m

  • Faust the African; The Musician

    Johan Thom

    Faust the African; The Musician, 2015

    Found objects, builders foam and mixed media

    90 60 m

  • Faust the African; The Gambler - Loyalty

    Johan Thom

    Faust the African; The Gambler - Loyalty, 2015

    Found objects, builders foam and mixed media

    45 X 156 m

  • Two Fucking Typewriters

    Johan Thom

    Two Fucking Typewriters, 2015

    Found objects, builders foam and mixed media

    304 x 46 x 132 m

  • Self portrait in glass plate gold and mixed media

    Johan Thom

    Self portrait in glass plate gold and mixed media, 2014

    Black American walnut wood, hand cut glass plate and gold

    94 x 96 m

  • The Engineer

    Johan Thom

    The Engineer, 2014

    Found objects, builders foam and mixed media

    55 x 123 x 78 m

  • Die Wiehann Verslag

    Johan Thom

    Die Wiehann Verslag, 2015

    Found objects, Rosewood, bronze and mixed media

    400 x 124 m

  • Faust the African; The Handyman and The Ferryman

    Johan Thom

    Faust the African; The Handyman and The Ferryman, 2015

    Found objects, builders foam and mixed media

    The Handyman (135 x 80 x 760 m) The ...

  • Faust the Africa; The Law Giver

    Johan Thom

    Faust the Africa; The Law Giver, 2015

    Bronze

    74 x 70cm

    Edition of 3

  • Installation picture [Johan Thom / The Devil Made Me Do It / 2015]
  • Installation picture [Johan Thom / The Devil Made Me Do It / 2015]
  • Installation picture [Johan Thom / The Devil Made Me Do It / 2015]
  • Installation picture [Johan Thom / The Devil Made Me Do It / 2015]
  • Installation picture [Johan Thom / The Devil Made Me Do It / 2015]
  • Installation picture [Johan Thom / The Devil Made Me Do It / 2015]
  • Installation picture [Johan Thom / The Devil Made Me Do It / 2015]
  • Installation picture [Johan Thom / The Devil Made Me Do It / 2015]
  • Installation picture [Johan Thom / The Devil Made Me Do It / 2015]