THEA SOGGOT

BIOGRAPHY

THEA SOGGOT

(Johannesburg, South Africa)

 

THE ARTIST ABOUT HER WORK:

“The torso is the most immediate catalyst to reawaken feelings, to awaken different emotions. The torso is the most direct vehicle for activating the process.” …

“In this [current] series I work with the idea of the reduction, suppression and annihilation of the individual. Each of the drawings is of a warm and alive face. A face that lives yet seems to be fading into memory. It disappears, it vanishes. The face is drawn in earth and veiled by transparent paper. Each image faces us but avoids our gaze. It becomes an object, a specimen. Hence it cannot reveal its internal world.

“The black outline reduces the individual to a shape. An unidentifiable shape. The individual becomes anonymous. The line has equal weight with the face. Metaphorically or not it is the outline of what lived.”  

 

SAID ABOUT THEA SOGGOT’S WORK:

“The human torso, with its intricacies and its intimacies becomes a landscape, a plateau beneath which are found subtle yet powerful machinations.” Robyn Sassen, Artthrob, 4 May, 2004

 

ABOUT THEA SOGGOT’S WORK:

There is an intense humanism that informs, and has always been present in Thea Soggot’s work: a deep interest in the human form, and in the potential for emotions and connections that these forms contain.

Whether her focus is on the human torso, specifically – as timelessly iconic referent; or on the female body in particular; on human forms engaging one another, or, as is the case more recently, on the form of the human face, Soggot brings to each of these an underlying presence beyond form itself – a type of visual play and deliberate potential that is always powerfully imbued. For, while Soggot is exquisitely accomplished in her draftsmanship of these forms, what they represent is never merely descriptive; her forms always intimate – and evoke – emotion, movement, or a psychic moment beyond their surface description. They are human beyond and within their forms. Their expressions are subtle and equivocal.

Soggot regularly employs visual repetition to create her series of works – a device that, again, invites one to consider these works beyond the single moments of the images she creates, and beyond the surface plane. As much as each image is a work that can stand alone and be read individually, in relation to one another, these often similar – or in some instances seemingly near-identical works – take on a differently powerful resonance, since it is in the small, quiet differences of the repetitions that one is able to read and imagine perhaps more deeply into the forms.

In Soggot’s most recent images of faces, over which she layers a thin, milky film of semi-transparent paper, she takes the possibilities of how one may read and interpret the nature of the forms and the visual and conceptual planes that the work occupies even further.

In these works, the delicately executed faces – drawn/painted using the signature rich terracotta earth that Soggot has been sourcing from the Magaliesberg hills, close to Johannesburg, for many years – are then entirely covered with tracing paper, onto which Soggot has then added a thick, black outlining silhouette of the head, delineating its form.

The outlines are notable recent additions to her current working process, and enact a type of visual punning in the work, in that instead of emphasising the inherent shape of the forms they hold, they make the forms they describe slightly ambiguous, almost generic – blunt cues or signifiers of what they contain, marking the boundary into a liminal plane of sorts.

The layering in these works – of painted image, transparent paper film and black outline – is striking, and slightly uncomfortable to read. The film mutes, masks; it creates a thin, misty veil over the faces underneath; one cannot be sure if the faces are dead or asleep – glazed over in death, or misty from breath. Are they calm and serenely meditative, dreaming or inward-looking, or are they eerily absent? The mouths on these faces are either closed, or the lips are very slightly parted. Eyes, too, are closed, completely or almost completely. Through the film one can still discern fine details of the faces – but one looks almost forensically, seeking clues, looking for details of what is not readily apparent at first glance. Like an X-ray image, one is compelled to consider the images beyond their surfaces – reading the external and the internal; below the surface and that which masks the surface.

 

BIOGRAPHY

Thea Soggot was born in Johannesburg. She completed her Fine Art degree at the University of the Witwatersrand, where she was twice awarded the Henri Lidchi prize for drawing in 1978 and 1979. After completing her degree, Soggot worked as a graphic designer, while also working on commissions and continuing her art practice. In the early 1990s, Soggot taught at the Johannesburg Art Gallery and was a member of the Market Gallery Advisory Board. From 1992-1993, she spent eight months at the Cité Internationale des Arts. On her return, she started to exhibit internationally. Since then, Soggot has been practicing as an artist and teaches from her studio.

Soggot has always concerned herself with the human figure. For the first fifteen years as an artist, she confined herself to a monochromatic range using charcoal and graphite. She started working with earth sourced from the Magaliesberg around 1995.

As this earth is high in iron oxide, it stains and penetrates the paper in a way that unpigmented earth would not – a process that has been compared with fresco painting, where the ground receives and comes to embody the pigment rather than just carry it on the surface.

Soggot continues to be drawn to the unpredictable quality of earth as a material, which introduces an element of chance into her work. The colour and luminosity of the earth also lend Soggot’s forms a sculptural, monumental quality. While the red earth distinctly evokes the surrounding areas of where she lives, she also uses it metaphorically and evocatively for its colour and textures – referencing an organic human connection to nature; sometimes suggestive of blood, even of burial; the earth from which each of us has emerged and to which we will each return.

 

CV

SOLO EXHIBITIONS

2011       

Everard Read, Johannesburg

 

2004

Gallery Momo, Johannesburg

 

1999                                                                 

Goodman Gallery, Johannesburg

 

1997                                                                 

Eglise Romane de Mont-St. Martin, Mont St-Martin (France)

 

1996                                                                          

Alliance Française, Johannesburg

 

1995                                                                 

On-Gallérie, Knokke (Belgium)                 

 

1994                                                                          

Grange du Faing, Centre d’Art, Jamoigne (Belgium)

Contemporain du Luxembourg Belge           

Goodman Gallery, Johannesburg                 

South African Association of Arts, Cape Town

 

1989                                                                 

Goodman Gallery, Johannesburg

 

1984                                                                          

Goodman Gallery, Johannesburg

 

ART FAIRS 

2007 – 2013                                                             

Johannesburg Art Fair

 

2015-2016                                                                

Johannesburg Art Fair

 

GROUP EXHIBITONS

2020

Winter 2020, Everard Read, London

 

2016         

Christman Collections, Everard Read, London                             

CIRCA, Summer Show, London

 

2007-16                                

Various group shows, Johannesburg

 

2011                                      

Horse, Everard Read and CIRCA, Johannesburg

 

2007                                      

Everard Read, Johannesburg

 

2006                                                                 

Gallery Momo, Johannesburg

 

2005                                                                          

Gallery Momo, Johannesburg

 

2003                                                                          

Gallery Momo, Johannesburg

 

1996                                                                          

Galerie Resy Muijsers, Tilburg (Netherlands)

 

1995                                                                 

First Gallery, Johannesburg

 

1994                                                                 

Market Gallery, Johannesburg

 

1981                                                                          

Market Gallery, Johannesburg

 

OEUVRE CROISËE DENMARK/THEA SOGGOT

1997                                                                          

Städtische Galerie, Dresden (Germany)

Bergisch Gladbach (Germany)                       

Städtische Galerie Villa Zanders

 

1996                                                                          

Ferme de Buisson, Marne la Vallée (France)

 

1995                                                                   

Museum Hedendaagse Kunst, Antwerpen (Belgium)

 

1994                                                                          

Institut Français, Bremen (Germany)

 

COLLECTIONS

Private, local and international

Constitutional Court, South Africa

Alliance Française, South Africa

Anglo American, South Africa