Renowned Mpumalanga artist, John-Anthony Boerma is exhibiting 200 hand-painted clay plates at the White River Gallery, outside Mbombela.

Evocative texts recalled from songs over time have been transcribed onto the plates in Boerma’s childlike print. The sound installation which accompanies the exhibition references Boerma’s autobiographical memory.

The engaging interplay of earthenware clay, text and sound installation completes the artist’s long-standing exploration of personal identity, which forms the core theme of the presentation.

Boerma says it took him three days to complete each plate and more than a year to produce the collection of 200 plates.

The exhibition “Love is a Dangerous Drug” is part of Boerma’s master’s thesis. He says although the exhibition speaks about his autobiography, he believes that some of the lyrics will make the audience reminisce about their past.

“Love is a Dangerous Drug” exhibition on show at the White River Gallery:

The exhibition is accompanied by a soundscape of songs by artists such as Mafikizolo.

“I think the most important thing was for me to express the alchemy of clay and the pliability of clay that allows you to be able to take a long time to produce a piece. Each piece is handmade, hand-painted and it expresses that specific part of my memory that I would like to bring forward.”

Boerma studied painting, drawing, printmaking and sculpture as well as the history of art for two years before leaving the country as a member of the End Conscription Campaign in the 1980s. He went from studying Painting and Illustration at the Akademie Minerva in The Netherlands to an independent study programme in New York at the Cooper Union before returning to South Africa.

Director of the White River Gallery, Dana Macfarlane says Boerma’s exhibition is not only unique but also powerful.

The “Love is a Dangerous Drug” exhibition will officially be opened on the 8th and run until May 22nd.