Stefan Blom | ARTIST PROFILE
South African sculptor and painter Stefan Blom was born in Kimberly in 1963. He studied graphic design at the Witwatersrand Technikon in Johannesburg. Blom began his career in advertising and currently lives and works in Cape Town.
His current sculptures continue to channel his first-hand experience of the psychic wound inflicted by personal trauma into the more impersonal and largely unstable area of political and social forces. His works investigate how the victim and perpetrator are part of a continuum. Bound together as one entity in an eternal symbiosis, the human spirit is trapped. A nominee for the FNB Vita Art Now Awards in 1996, his work is shown mostly in European and American galleries and museums. Blom had his first solo exhibition in 1995 at the Karen McKerron Gallery in Johannesburg.
His current sculptures have their early roots in the more personal pieces seen in his first solo show in 1995. There, bitumen dark, glazed figures, some wrapped in bandage strips, show the artist’s preoccupation with bondage and amputation suggestive of the shattered human spirit. Creatures have wings that cannot support the human body and arms that end in stumps or are forever trapped in fixed substances. A year later, in 1996, Blom exhibited two works at the Johannesburg BMW gallery. These were like 3-dimensional renditions of Francis Bacon’s paintings of suffering figures depicted writhing against deliberately incongruent and highly stylised design backgrounds. The earlier tar and paper- finished sculptures of Blom’s first show morph into the ash-white, also at-risk figures in his 3rd solo exhibition at Hänel Gallery.
In 2014, Blom exhibited an installation at the AVA gallery titled sweetie. Given the particular ethos of his work, it comes as no surprise that the earliest painting executed by the artist as a young man was of a female crucifixion.
In Blom’s current sculptures, the rough finish that was his original trademark has undergone a transformation. The figures are perfectly finished. Surfaces are as slick and glossy as a 1950’s Cadillac. The sweetness of soft retro colours; baby blues, pinks and pale pistachio greens and silvers seem at odds with the seriousness of the subject matter. Yet this deliberate play creates an interesting tension through its incongruence. Unlike the product of transhumanism, the cyborg – a fictional being with both organic and biomechatronic parts – functions in an often superior way to humans. Blom’s sculptures suggest that the psychic damage has rendered them impotent and without agency.
In January 2016, Blom was honoured to have one of the sculptures from the DShK series, Brynhildr acquired as part of the permanent collection of the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa (MOCAA).