Over the past decade Blom’s fascination with the development of abstraction in modern art has given rise to a range of strictly non-figurative experiments in painting. Traversing diverse techniques, textures and modes of composition, Blom’s imagery has been characterised by perpetual change in the process of formal inquiry within the realm of abstraction.
Paintings and Posters signals another, radical shift, this time away from abstraction, as figurative elements previously confined to his drawing practice enter his canvases for the first time. Born of a growing disillusionment with the limitations of his old, self-imposed rules, this exhibition of new works represents Blom’s desire for a new pictorial language.
A small group of paintings retain the minimalist impulse that preceded this body of work. These hybrids, in which Blom starts to make use of oil bar in addition to his usual oils, show the transition from the focus on materiality and space to figurative reference and humour. More recent paintings are composed from painted fragments, stuck together as in haphazard mosaics; allusions both to the history of art and Blom’s personal history proliferate, like visual quotations realised in figurative scrawl. A single painting may combine a multitude of references, from Josef Albers to Maggie Laubser, from memories of 1990s Pretoria to childhood obsessions with monsters and knives.
Alongside the paintings are posters in which museum gift-shop reproductions of celebrated works from the history of modern art are playfully collaged with photographs of African wildlife and irreverently defaced with scribblings of childish and rebellious icons. In Blom’s second catalogue raisonné (Paintings Volume II, 2013-2016), writer and curator Nicola Trezzi considers how Blom’s drawings allow one to understand the complex and contradictory nature of his art. Trezzi writes: ‘If Blom’s paintings can be considered his ‘representation’, affirming his position, as a painter, as an artist, to the world, his drawings are his ‘will’, the thing behind the veil, the magmatic truth, the lava beneath our terrestrial crust.’
This is Blom's seventh exhibition with the gallery.