Skaduwee Kaart II (Diptych)
Oil on canvas and digital print
Image size: 53 x 206cm
It is ironic that the notion of "places" not only implies the "empty spaces" between them, but also depends on it. Without these "voids" the concept of "place would be incomprehensible. We order the physical world as a set of places, connected by paths - spaces that seem "empty" and "less important", but which we have to travel in order to reach a destination.
For some time now, Jacobus Kloppers' works focuses on the concept of travel, the realisation and discovery of landmarks and indicators along the way, and especially, how it impacts on the psyche. He has walked a long way - initially through depictions of objects (dams, drinking troughs, gates, etc.) along roads leading through the Karoo landscape, later the road itself as a (non) place, and, more recently, by focusing on road signs as indicators of place, distance and directions. Now he enters what he calls a "second world" - to extend his investigation into the "continuous interaction between the experience of place as a physical phenomenon and of place as a moment in the world of thought".
By superimposing illustrations of clouds on road maps and using aerial photographs as reference, Kloppers is now involving the virtually immeasurable space above the landscape - the atmosphere, the true place of "nothing". On a clear day the sky is an empty space where distance, relativity and three-dimensionality dissolve in a borderless vacuum. Only physical objects, such as birds, aeroplanes and, especially, clouds, sometimes give (limited) insight into the dimensions of the immense expanse above us earth-bound beings. Without these indications, of which the landscape is part, we would not be able to grasp the concept of space.
The human psyche - the universe of the spirit - is as boundless as the atmosphere. It is only defined, and limited, by thoughts, stemming from experiences of happenings, of places and the journeys between them.
In this series of works, Kloppers employs, amongst other, the cloud as a metaphor for the wandering spirit. Clouds drift over landscapes, carved by time and incidence, as thoughts and dreams travel through psychological spaces above past and future experiences. The human spirit may not be without will, but, as clouds, we have no control over our origin, and relatively little control over how and where we end up. It is the winds of time and change that ultimately determine our route and final destination. We can be little more than observers en route.
Travellers never stay for long in one place. They love movement, especially for the sake of movement. In the process, travellers usually develop a firm concept of space and place - and especially the absence of the latter - because to travel, means to be in the "nowhere" between two points on a map. It is these vacuums that Zen Buddhists long to visit in an attempt to escape the hold that place and experience have on the psyche. To them the "non-place" is the true destination.
This sounds paradoxical. For what is to be found in the no-man's-land between places - an ill-defined space, where little is certain and most things are in a constant state of flux? What are we searching for along these strange routes of uncertainty and transcendence? Do we ever discover anything? Sometimes Kloppers points to this. Through the metaphor of the physical road, the landmarks and signposts along the way, the road map, the endless sky and the floating clouds, he again focuses on a certain, but universal, aspect of the human condition. Like nomadic clouds that glide over the seemingly empty spaces between the dots on a map, we see, hear and experience many things during our journey over the psychological landscape. We may learn a lot, and later know many things, but what we eventually discover during our travels through lesser-known spaces, is nothing but ourselves.
Cobus van Bosch