Fine art is a rela+vely new mode of working for the founder of Side Street Studios (among a range of other projects). With a background in architecture, the focus on geometric abstrac+on is apt. The history of the movement is +ed closely to architecture, with its defined forms drawing on and referencing spa+al encounters – grids, intersec+ons, angles. De S+jl, Bauhaus, Construc+vism and Art Deco all func+oned as collec+ves of ar+sts, architects, designers and thinkers. Architecture and urban philosophy is s+ll at the core of what Kirshenbaum does. His passionate philosophy of urbanism was developed via immersion in the crea+ve life of the city. Cape Town’s “unofficial heart of art and design”, Side Street offers working spaces to ar+sts in Woodstock, and it is through connec+ng deeply with these crea+ves that Kirshenbaum discovered his own desire to make art. “Nothing happens in a vacuum,” he explains.
As an ar+st, Kirshenbaum interrogates the establishment of principles, and how such defini+ons func+on in actuality. He also inves+gates how we are both affected by and influence the spaces we live in. Each pain+ng in the series comprises a range of building blocks. The simple forms of Os and Xs are made up of a complex arrangement of smaller shapes, like chevrons, triangles and semi-circles. The Xs serve as both star+ng and end points of a journey. The Os, divided, are disrupted cycles, mul+faceted en++es, where a whole only exists because of its components, like the apartments in a building, the blocks of a city, or the cells in a body. Through these playfully dynamic pieces, we see that meaning is created via engagement and interac+on – between ar+st and viewer, and between ourselves and our communi+es.
While the history of geometric abstrac+on was oVen about stripping away the non-essen+al in search of a universal truth, or unequivocal constant, Kirshenbaum asks us instead to reflect on and share our understanding with others, while being open to theirs. A city, aVer all, is a place of change and possibility, of different people coming together, compromising, and building a home.