FNB Art Joburg
Sandton Convention
Centre, Johannesburg,
South Africa

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Breaking the fourth wall to let you in

with Brett Seiler


Brett Charles Seiler is a multidisciplinary visual artist communicating in paint, performance, installation, text and collage. Yesterday, his solo exhibition, scenes from an apartment opened at Everard Read’s CIRCA. Featured in this week’s Re:View, we consider the artist material ways he queers the domestic.

“It’s kind of like a whole facade. You can also walk around back,” says Brett Charles Seiler during a preview held a few hours before his solo scenes from an apartment opens to the public at Everard Read’s CIRCA. An immersive installation, much like the three-wall sets seen in television shows, scenes from an apartment is concentrated around a staged room standing in CIRCA’s centre. Discarding the fourth wall, the u-shaped room’s polished parquet floors, watered houseplants and black walls invite the public in to witness the artist’s personal, observed and imagined intimacies.

An autobiographical exhibition conceptualised in his studio in Woodstock, scenes from an apartment is about the intimate encounters that happen behind closed doors. “It’s normalising my norm: men loving men, living together and doing things that are simple and easy,” explains Seiler, shortly after we settle cross-legged in a corner of the staged room’s floor.

Perhaps a living room, an entrance hall or the portion of a bedroom, the installation is decorated with several Seiler portraits and scenes. Straddling privacy and fantasy, the subjects in Seiller’s work are a blend of unknown references from found photographs, faces from 1920s books and some friends. “If I find a chair that I like, I paint it. Then if I find a figure that I like in another image, I paint it into the scene. So I am kind of collaging a fantastical, fabulated scenario that speaks to my reality.”

Initially working with industrial materials (bitumen and roof paint) because the supply matched his demand, they have since developed a material weight. “It was the quickest thing I could get then it became the quickest thing that could dry on canvas. It matched my sense of urgency to get my message across,” adds Seiler. Commonly used in the construction industry, in Seiler’s practice the materials are queered to create a semblance of home.

Beyond the three-walled room, other portraits and sculptures sit between the wall studs and struts holding up the installation structure, held down by sandbags. Exposing what is always concealed, scenes from an apartment brings masculinised labour into the visual conversation, asking the audience what it means to gender labour while considering the margins such exclusionary binaries leave queer people in.

Inviting the public into a queered space instead of queering public spaces, scenes from an apartment subverts the heteronormative social expectations. Centering the queer, it does not conform or beg.

scenes from an apartment closes on 19 November 2022.



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Ruth Ige. Don't hide your glory, 2022.
Acrylic on canvas. 122 x 122cm. (© Copyright 2022, STEVENSON. All rights reserved)

Friday, 8th September

Collection tour of Anglo American

144 Oxford Rd, Rosebank

8 September 2023

Event details

The Anglo American art and object collection is a combination of art collected over several decades through four different companies: Anglo American, de Beers Group, Anglo American Platinum and Kumba Iron Ore.

The collection comprises of 3600 works, with around 1000 pieces in the collection on display at the newly commissioned Rosebank offices. Although vast, the collection experienced an acquisition hiatus from the early 2000s until 2021 creating a significant gap in the collection’s representation of contemporary art. The collection now has a dedicated curator, Megan Scott, tasked with its cataloguing and digitisation, opening an exciting new chapter which will see the gradual procurement of significant works that reflect our contemporary South African and African art world.

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