art, decor

Battle of the Masters


It’s hard not to wonder what the great masters of abstract art would have to say about ingenious contemporary artist Zander Blom’s new solo show at the Stevenson gallery in Cape Town’s Woodstock. On until 9 April 2016, the New Paintings exhibition features a medley of striking compositions of form and colour that both pay tribute to and poke a little fun at the revered work of Pablo Picasso and Piet Mondrian.

ZB2 All of the paintings in the series are untitled as Zander was concerned that a title would take away from the experience of the viewer.

Both artists have always greatly influenced Zander, who views the two greats as a yin-yang of opposing forces – Picasso being the spontaneous, wild sort and Mondrian the highly disciplined, serious kind – and worked to express this contrast in his latest paintings.

‘I felt the presence of such a duality of impulses inside of me,’ explains the young creative. ‘It went a bit like this: I stood in front of the canvas and had two voices in my head. The one told me to make something stripped-down, controlled, austere and clinical, while the other told me to make something raw, perverse, distorted and ridiculous. And so this tension came to underscore every choice I made in the studio’.

ZBProcess A look inside Zander's studio.

The result of this push-pull process is a series of captivating works that are one part wild, one part contained and controlled. There’s order in the sharp, clean edges of the carefully sculpted shapes but a touch of madness in their wacky forms and awkward placement. Similarly, there’s uni-dimensionality in the flat, primary coloured figures but depth in the marbling technique that Zander employed here and there and in the oil stains on the linen that act like drop shadows.


Interestingly enough, Zander claims that while creating each piece, he focused on the individual marks rather than the painting as a whole and the composition simply emerged from this process. Each work was also not produced from start to finish in isolation; instead, they all sat in the artist’s small studio together in their incomplete states and spoke to and influenced each other.

ZBProcess2 The tools of Zander's trade.

The idea for this series, like for many of the artist’s former projects, developed slowly and disjointedly and came from Zander’s willingness to be receptive to everything going on around him. As a man who’s obsessed with his craft, he’s permanently on the lookout for inspiration, drawing it from conversations, books, the Internet and life in general.

‘I think artists should be hoarders of ideas – however random or seemingly insignificant,’ he explains. ‘I’ve got open notebooks spread out around my studio like little laid traps, and I don’t ever leave the house without a small notebook and a pen in my back pocket. If I have a quick idea for a composition…I very quickly pin it down on paper for use at any time.’

ZB1 Zander Blom's exhibition at Stevenson also includes 106 framed drawings featuring doodles over the pages of a book on Piet Mondrian.

So what sort of idea is brewing for his next project? Well, Zander explains that what’s coming is much less orderly, a manifestation of short bursts of energy with some dirt and grit thrown in the mix.

‘Basically I’m telling the Mondrian impulse in me to shut up and I’m letting some other voices have space in the conversation while I throw paint and stab at canvases with palette knives and sticks’.

ZB3 Note the oil stains on the raw linen, which make the shapes appear to float on the canvas.

Read more about Zander Blom over at the Stevenson gallery website.

ZBProcess3 Another peek at this gifted artist's work space.

Fill your home with a look inspired by Zander Blom's work.