Shedding Light on Martini Coetzee's Solo

Published 04 June 2023 in Exhibition Blogs

Light, scientifically, is “electromagnetic radiation” that we can perceive with the naked eye. As artists, light is a tool and an aid; something that when altered even slightly, can change the perception of the subject entirely. Tracing is either the lining of something that came before, or the faint marking of something new - both of which Martini Coetzee embraces in her solo exhibition, Light Tracing Thyself, which opened May 27th.

As per usual, there is another dimension to even the title for this exhibition. Martini created with Socrates’ philosophy of “Know Thyself” in mind. This teaching is about gaining knowledge and

wisdom through self-discovery. This is something that we can see in Martini’s works, the progression throughout the collection and her learning and experiences expressed through its creation.

With each artwork, Martini works with objects and media collected, reworking them to create something new. Just in this we have her manipulating light to retrace and re-present these objects; giving them life beyond their reality.

To understand her works, we need to look at how she created them. Anytime we start something new, we have to experiment with it to discover what works best. Moving into light painting Martini has gone on a journey of experimentation with different cameras and light painting tools. Her current exhibition at the gallery is a five-year journey of learning not just on the photographic side but also how to print these light painting photography artworks the best way possible. Martini has a free spirit outlook on things, not planning or conceptualizing too much initially. Loving to go with the flow of the creation process she lets her mind goes where it wills, while using memorabilia from events and experiences. Through the use of photography equipment, light emitting devices and by also tapping into a tradition of knowledge a story telling begins to unfold.

As such, we see her works tracing thyself - herself, her journey, and her creative development. Each work has its own journey. While we can appreciate her works on their own merit, we would like to give you lovely art enthusiasts more of the stories behind some of her pieces.

“I find items on hiking trails, walks on the beach and anything I wish to photograph that interests me. I appreciate these items as ‘gifts of the day’. The light painting around my objects is a free abstract movement. In this movement, I paint light into the scene while also adding colour. The camera captures this movement and also the detail of the item during a long-exposure. As I put a photographic collage together, a story unfolds.”

“Every artwork has some evidence of my existence and exploring of the day. One work that is more personal is 'Anniversary'My husband asked me what gift I wanted for our wedding anniversary. I love plants and I told him I would love something for the garden. As we walked through the plant nursery, a very beautiful rose caught my eye. Going home happy with a new rose bush I immediately photographed this very unique colourful rose.

Roses are known as symbols of love, admiration, gratitude and passion. In the Latin expression 'sub rosa'; ('under the rose'), messages without words, as roses, are told in secret. These secret messages told by roses are there for the viewer to observe and interpret as their own.”


Anniversary, Martini Coetzee

Secondly, we have ‘The Home We Share. NASA James Webb Space Telescope releases stunning photos that are available for the public to download. These images contribute to her theme/concept of the Self that must be explored to learn - this connection with nature and the universe.  

When she finds a wasp nest (paper wasp; Polistes africanus) in the garden, Martini finds them fascinating to observe. “[She] photographed this wasp while taking care of the larvae. The nest was photographed after they released it when the young wasps left. Wasps in Native American symbolism are the creators of the earth. In this work, the wasp is the one that communicates with the Universe: 'The Cartwheel galaxy' (James Webb image). There is a collective consciousness that started in the hive but is then extended from the earth to the universe.”