Southern Guild is pleased to present Of Space and Time, a solo exhibition of functional artwork by Jesse Ede, running from 24 August to 19 October, 2023. The Cape Town-based artist’s new series of large-scale sculptural work is a poetic contemplation of our place in the universe and a deep engagement with the materiality of stone and metal. Ede’s first solo exhibition marks the culmination of years of innovative refinement of his complex technical processes.
Of Space and Time, in its conceptual essence, is the manifestation of Ede’s own creative evolution. The exhibition develops his long-held interest in interplanetary phenomena, and the existential reckoning of confronting the vastness of man’s known universe. Sitting in relational and proximate conversation with one another, the works cultivate a distinct proprioceptive experience for the body. Ede is intent on creating a transportive and interactive engagement for those coming into visceral contact with these objects.
The exhibition’s focal work, a bronze and granite seat, encircles the sitter in a ring of stone, facilitating a heightened and charged spatial awareness. The visual symbology of circular forms has deeply informed this series. Ede employs the circle – a shape with no conceivable beginning or end – as an apt visual model for the concept of eternity. Solaris, another wall-hung piece, has been constructed as a geometric configuration of overlapping circles. Open-cast in bronze, the artwork marks a shift from Ede’s utilitarian floor-based work toward a more purely sculptural approach
Propelled by an ambition to work on a larger, more immersive scale, Ede has developed his own unique process of open-cast smelting. The metal is heated, eventually melting at the substance’s liquefaction point. The molten material is poured into an open cast Ede designed out of ceramic fibre board, which is used to line the interior of ceramic kilns. The heat-resistance of the unbound mould allows the metal to cool more slowly, and the substance to gradually dilate upon a larger surface area. The finished textures of the bronze and aluminium echo the cratered surfaces of the moon or the naturally formed skin of cooled lava. Ede’s refined technical approach is a distinct contemporary evolution of the ancient and primal act of metal forging.
The use of locally sourced Cape heritage stone – namely Malmesbury slate, Paarl granite and sandstone – is indicative of the artist’s sensitivity to the area’s indigenous ecology. Ede’s artworks harness the monumentality and raw durability of the millennia-old rock, allowing the works to appear both ancient and futuristic. Here, the material is time compressed, holding the abstract weight of history in its own gradual formation. The artworks explore the dynamic tension between the ruggedness of these organic mediums and the man-made processes that attempt to tame them into their final utilitarian forms. Ede looks to celebrate the expansive creative potential of experimental modes of making. The permanence of these objects, their concrete corporeality, offers a perpetuation of both material and design that will long endure.
The exhibition traces Ede’s constructed cosmic trajectory, as the works appear to come into being along a perceived linear path of time. If nothing observed is unaffected by the observer, Ede welcomes the possibility that through this relational exchange, all viewers of the exhibition will form part of his created celestial plane.