Artist’s Bio

About

Charlayn von Solms is a Cape Town, South Africa based sculptor specializing in sculptural assemblage. Her work explores how ideas are conveyed through abstract means, such as the ancient compositional strategies used in Homeric and Hesiodic poetry and catalogues. She creates visual ‘translations’ of these art-forms by exploiting technical, structural and poetic resemblances between oral poetry and the contemporary sculptural technique of assemblage.

Her work is informed by things and ideas that for a variety of reasons are overlooked or go unseen. In some cases this obscurity comes from familiarity: like utilitarian objects whose use has become habitual and whose presence is assumed until it’s not there when needed (like a colander when the pasta is done). In other instances, things and ideas may have accumulated a patina of associations that makes it difficult to think of them in isolation of these, and by extension, to conceive of them in another context. Or their application may be limited to a very small number of specialists so that they are deeply familiar to some, while completely unknown to everyone else.This interaction between familiarity and obscurity lies at the core of making metaphors.The process does not just produce a new entity. Both the familiar and the obscure elements used in constructing a metaphor are transformed by their new associations.

Her approach combines the largely utilitarian objects that both inform and form part of her sculptures, and ideas that are so closely associated with specific historical, cultural, and political moments that potentially appreciative audiences either cannot or will not engage with them. In Africa, Classics is closely associated with Colonialism, which had modeled its empires first on the Greek and then the Roman, and had used Classical motifs in the art and architecture with which settled territories were marked as ‘taken’. New developments in Classics that coincide with areas of interest and value to modern Africa largely go unseen by this audience. What has emerged from fields such as Homeric studies for example, is a radical reconsideration of notions of originating authorship and the unexpectedly essential role of tradition in creativity and innovation. Her approach to making art rests on the idea that a well constructed metaphor can make something that is worth seeing visible to someone who might not otherwise have thought of looking for it.

+

Education

She holds a Ba/Fine Art (1995), Masters in Fine Art (1998) and a PhD in Fine Art (2015) from the Michaelis School of Fine Art at the University of Cape Town, and a Master of Philosophy in Ancient Cultures from Stellenbosch University (2001).

Her educational background reflects an approach to art-making as premised on a complete insight into her topic. The aim is not to be overly academic but to create artworks that appeal and are visually legible to an informed and casual audience alike. The playful aesthetics, use of colour, pattern and humour reflects the aim of creating something capable of conveying the creativity and artistry of ancient oral composition to a contemporary audience.

+

Exhibitions

She has held four solo exhibitions and participated in various group shows.

Powell’s Patterns 2, 11, 20, 25. Woordfees, Stellenbosch (2020)
A Catalogue of Shapes. SMAC, Cape Town (2016)
Staff of the Department of Fine Art, University of the Free State. William Humphreys Gallery, Kimberley (2009)
Visual and Word Art from the Free State, Volksblad Art Festival, Bloemfontein (2008)
Gunshot Show, Biba’s Gallery Smithfield (2007)
The Tower of Elemental Memorabilia. The Reservoir at Oliewenhuis Art Museum, Bloemforntein (2006)
Selection of Free State Artists. Volksblad Art Festival (2005)
Wax-in-Art, Sasolburg (2003)
Hermetic Heresies. Galerie Gora, Montreal (2000)

+

Publications

A Homeric Catalogue of Shapes: The Iliad and Odyssey Seen Differently. Bloomsbury. London 2020

Homer’s Thamyris: Artistic Self-Awareness in Homeric Studies and the Development of an Empirical Methodology for the Study of Creativity The Journal of Interdisciplinary Social Sciences 4:2. (2009), pp. 221-230.