Der Heilige Berg II
Johannesburg I 3 Mar to 18 Apr 2016
Cape Town I 3 Dec 2015 to 23 Jan 2016
Odysseus, during his travels to the city of Phaeacians proclaims “[t]here rang in my ears a cry as of maidens […] who haunt the towering peaks of the mountains, the springs that feed the rivers, and the grassy meadows.” Upon his discovery of this magnificent mountain with its riches, Odysseus asks himself “[c]an it be that I am somewhere near men of human speech? Nay, I will myself make trial and see”.
Jonathan Freemantle is set on a Homeric quest of exploration for the ‘perfect mountain’ and the vast treasures it has to offer. And, like Odysseus, Freemantle studies his surroundings attentively for this perfection. Freemantle (2014) explains: “I began a series of work titled In search of the Mountain in the northern Scottish Highlands in 2013. This led to a [set] of paintings exhibited in Edinburgh under the title Der Heilige Berg (The Holy Mountain).”
Freemantle furthermore describes that since an early age, growing up in South Africa, he has been fascinated with mountains “I have felt that each mountain was an echo of an archetype”. Mountains as archetypes have various meanings connected to it: getting closer to a higher power, gaining wisdom or gaining a wider view of the world. It is not only this archetypal understanding of mountains that drives Freemantle, he is also interested in the alchemical understanding it offers. This not only focuses on the physical appearance of the mountain but also on the tactility of it that is the ground.
Freemantle physically climbs the mountain and extracts various pigments from it; and after this process, he returns to his studio, where like the alchemists of old, he transforms the ground into pigments for his paint. The paint becomes his philosopher’s stone, a metaphoric blend of thought and action.