PFAFF UWE

— Sculptor

Pfaff Uwe was born in 1947 and grew up in Germany. He emigrated to South Africa in 1970. His first job was for a German company design- ing rock-cutting equipment. A year later he departed for Cape Town where he worked as a design draughtsman for an air-conditioning company amongst other things. In 1975 he took his first painting and sculpture classes at Cape Town Art Centre, a year later holding his first one-person exhibition. After a hiatus when he concentrated on earning a steady income to support his growing family, Uwe came back with some new work in the late 90s.His silkscreens and what he calls ‘metal-picturesʼ sold well at the first show he held then. Here Uwe demonstrated a renewed propensity for pat- tern which found different but related form in the two bodies of works. Both comprise simple images composed of and animated by complex pat- terns, but while the silkscreens have the incessant chatter of an internal monologue, the metal works state themselves more boldly. It is to these that Uwe has increasingly turned his attention, experimenting with materials, scale and for- mat. He makes the pieces by taking a torch to substantial steel plates and cutting shapes from them. Complex filigrees describe the simple form of a head or a figure, and, just as their precise nature recalls Uweʼs training as a draughtsman, so too does their agitation remind one of his restlessness. He invokes mythical archetypes like humans, animals, tools, elements and various hybrids of these. Described as they are by pierced surfaces, it is tempt- ing to interpret the pieces in terms of negative and positive spaces, but this lends an un- equal weighting to the two. It is in the relationship between them, the blurring of the figure/ ground relationship and the assumptions we usually make about space and form, that Uweʼs works take root. His lacertine line favours neither the negative nor the positive.