There Is A Time and A Place: A solo exhibition by Jonathan Sölanke Gathaara Fraser

Circle Art Gallery 12 May – 11 June 2021

Jonathan Gathaara Sölanke Fraser (Kenyan, b. 1995) is a multidisciplinary artist working across various media living and working in Nairobi. Fraser studied Fine Art at Kenyatta University. Previous exhibitions include I Will See What I Want To See, 2019 at Circle Art Gallery; If Not Now, 2018 at Cave Bureau, Nairobi; Line: The Basic Element, 2018 at One Off Contemporary Art Gallery, Nairobi; Stranger Times, 2017 at Circle Art Gallery; Anatomy of Me, 2017 at The Art Space, Nairobi.

Fraser uses drawing as a means to engage with the world around him through a varied approach that includes observational sketching, plant pressing, digital image collection and writing. This multifarious set of activities presents a unique opportunity to activate his interaction with his environment. This interactivity with the world strives towards a more internal and intuitive “knowing”; a knowing born less of experience and learning and more of dreaming. Fraser works through drawing to complicate meaning as well as create new relationships between objects and ideas. Disparate elements in the drawing field are allowed to take up similar qualities in space, eschewing the various contexts they would typically exist in. The drawing field itself is broken down so that one’s conventional approach to looking at and understanding it is revised. The drawings are energetic and enigmatic and in this way encourage the viewer to participate actively in the processes the artist himself uses.

Fraser invites the viewer to consider the transformation, big or small, that is brought by even the slightest shift in the conditions under which we encounter, or are presented with an object. This process of de-contextualization – sometimes subtle, other times abrupt – is aided by repetition of certain motifs and objects within and across several compositions, a gesture which extends them across space and time. This reiteration and multiplication stretches the distance between the initial and final encounter with an object within the work. In doing so, it engenders a slowing down and increased attentiveness to these groups of interactive symbols and how they function according to the illogic of Fraser’s environments. In these works, the artist emphasises the contingent nature of meaning, highlighting how our reading of objects is dependent on their relationships with other objects, with space, and with time.

The works in this exhibition combine drawing as description and analysis with drawing as an act of conjuring. Fraser performs a visual alchemy, his mystifying mise en scenes inviting the viewer to follow along as he traverses a dreamlike space where meaning, while unstable, is always lurking just around the bend.