In 2018, I participated in one of Willem Boshoff’s Druid walks. During these walks, Boshoff would take the participants to a deserted place to take photos with him; all the while not uttering a word. Boshoff says as a druid he scurries for clues regarding the soul of a city. His druidic walks are committed to searching for moments of rare vision. One can say that Boshoff possesses the ability to see beauty in the ugly and he thus presents this in his photographs to the viewer. According to Bryson, author of Looking at the overlooked: Four essays on still life painting, the term rhopography can be defined as depicted objects with little importance; objects which are constantly overlooked. One of the ideas of the genre - still life - is to place the focus on things that usually get overlooked, on things that are not seen as important. Furthermore, Bryson (1990:70) argues that still life excludes the human figure and therefore no narrative is present. According to Bryson (1990: 74), rhopography is the ability to see what is insignificant with clear vision.
The photographs I used for my paintings are taken from a closed down railway station (SAR) in Bloemfontein. These paintings depict places where people once worked. Signs of human presence are seen in these works: the hand prints on the wall, the spanner and leather apron and glove left on the table. Human absence is made present in these traces. Dust and dirt have taken over the place, showing that the warehouse has been deserted for a long time. The windows are covered with a film of dust, obscuring vision. These are objects that would otherwise have been overlooked as insignificant, comparable to the tools strewn at the feet of Albrecht Dürer’s Melencholia which reveals the disconnect between the material (the tools) and the conceptual (Melencholia’s contemplative thought). These still life paintings attempts to re-establish these discarded objects as significant, as well as to balance the relationship between the material and conceptual.