Van den Berg
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Clive van den Berg

van den bergClive van den Berg is exploring those parts of the nation’s memory that are left out of official accounts. There is little information about love between men available. What there is comes in archival documents that record a history of crime and punishment. What he wanted was a different kind of record, something that carried the voices and motivations of those who loved. In the absence of these narratives he makes them up. It is important for him that this other largely unmarked history is imagined on the land. So many of our narratives of belonging, whether in the form of folk songs, poetry and indeed official memorials use the land as their central motif. Underpinning many of these narratives is a figure of the dutiful man, imaged on the sites of battle, those fissures of terrain that are another way of demarcating the nation.


Clive van den Berg is an artist, curator, designer, writer and teacher, who lives and works in Johannesburg, South Africa.

As a designer, van den Berg has worked both alone and with some of the nation's top architects to create public spaces - from museums to state buildings - in which new communities can form. Among his major recent projects are the Northern Cape Legislature, the museums of Constitution Hill, two major Mandela Foundation exhibitions, and the outdoor sculpture for the District Six Project in Cape Town. Combining museum design, curatorial practice and environmental art, Van den Berg has worked to produce a distinctly South African aesthetic for public space which is both sensitive to local traditions and creative of new possibilities. The same philosophy guides his curatorial work, including, most recently, the Brett Kebble Art Awards shows, and the Klein Karoo National Kuntsfest. For both of these shows, as for the Constitution Hill project, he has designed major books.

Since winning the Volkskas Atelier Young Artists award in 1987, Clive van den Berg has been acquiring a growing reputation as a visual artist who is a master of both formal beauty and conceptual depth. His works range in size and format, and include paintings, prints, multi-media sculpture, landscape installation, and videography. Variously addressed to questions of the body, eros, memory, land and light, his art has been shown around the world - in South Africa, Berlin, Charleroi, Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur, New York, Paris, San Francisco, Sao Paolo, and Stockholm. It has also earned him several major prizes, including, internationally, a Civitella Ranieri fellowship and the Michelin International Art Competition. His work has been collected by the South African National Gallery and the Johannesburg Art Gallery, among public institutions, and is included in numerous corporate and private collections in South Africa and abroad. He is represented in South Africa by the Goodman Gallery.

—Rosalind Morris © 2005

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