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Paul Emmanuel: Air on the skin (detail)

Air on the Skin
Standard Bank Art Gallery, Johannesburg, Gauteng, South Africa
28 January – 15 March 2003

The Standard Bank Gallery hosted an exhibition of the major drawing Air on the Skin (2002) (Standard Bank Collection) in their ground floor exhibition space. The Johannesburg public also had the chance to view a sister work of the same title and year from the Sasol Collection. Air on the Skin won first prize at the Schumann-Sasol Wax in Art competition (2002). The show also featured a selection of lithographs and etchings as well as page proofs from the artists’ book Cathexis. A private viewing of this show was also mounted at Fordsburg Artists Studios from 13 to 20 September 2002.

Artist’s statement

For me, Air on the Skin is – among many other things – about exposure. Clothes are our outer coverings; they determine what we want the world to see of us, either by circumstance or choice, forming first impressions. They are an outer ‘skin’, which, like the dried remnants of an insect exoskeleton or snake scales, are shed, washed, re-worn or replaced. They are intricately involved in our evolution and transformation. Shoe polish reflects the light and changes the surface appeal of shoes, bags, belts and other human accoutrements. Shoe polish also absorbs the light when left in its untampered form. In this work it has been layered over acrylic to create the deeply recessive matt blackness which gives this work its depth. I think of these landscapes not as depictions of physical spaces, but as renditions of inner landscapes.

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