Wessel van Huyssteen
Wessel van Huyssteen is a full-time practising artist based in the Free State. van Huyssteen matriculated in 1980 at Voortrekker High School, Bethelehem, Free State. In 1985 he graduated with a BA Fine Arts (Cum Laude for Painting & Drawing) from the Free State University, later graduating with a BA Honours in Art History at Johannesburg University (1990). In 2017 he received his Master of Arts in Fine Arts with distinction from Wits University. More from the artist: “My interest as an artist lies in the landscape and the impact humans have on our movement within space and the perceptions that the ‘owners’ of land, whether public or private, impose on our reading of place. I explored diaphanous barriers as a visual link; in Budapest it was the covering of state buildings under restoration (amongst other the State Opera House), in Rosendal it was the covering of fruit trees with frost cloth, in Johannesburg the safety fences at roadwork sites and in Knysna, a natural barrier in the covering of land by young invasive trees taking root after devastating fires. Conceptually these diaphanous vails speak of protection and peril. The coverings (grids), in all instances, change the reading of the shape of the thing it covers. They stimulated me to enquire, at first intuitively, but ultimately, through reverse engineering the rational interpretation of marks left upon the location. These works are a literal and metaphorical nod to the book The hidden life of trees by Peter Wolleben. In the book the secrets, ecosystems and memories of ancient forests are described. The author laments their destruction and the loss of their memories. The contrast between the fantastical delusions of a dictator like Orbán, personifying the policies of neo-liberal capitalism and its capillary networks and the dreams of a conservationist at Entabeni Farm in Knysna, and some lessor human versus nature interventions, are pitted against each other - The irrational order of a fascist state versus the rational chaos of conservation.