Finding the Narrative by Charmaine Haines


Robyn Sassen

A freelance arts writer since 1998, I fell in love with the theatre as a toddler, proved rubbish as a ballerina: my starring role was as Mrs Pussy in Noddy as a seven-year-old, and earned my stripes as an academic in Fine Arts and Art History, in subsequent years. I write for a range of online and print publications, including the Sunday Times, the Mail & Guardian and and was formerly the arts editor of the SA Jewish Report, a weekly newspaper with which I was associated for 16 years.
Robyn Sassen


BOLD faces: A detail from a work by Charmaine Haines. Photograph by Kim Sacks Gallery.

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SACREDNESS IN AN object comes in many iterations, many of which can be completely unexpected. When you visit Charmaine Haines’s exhibition at the Kim Sacks Gallery, you will be accosted with a sense of the sacred that is joyful and full of levity, bold and clear, but unequivocally very untraditional and completely special.

It’s an extraordinarily populous show: you count 60 works in the section of the gallery space dedicated to her work, but then as you look and turn, as you cast at eye at shelves and displays tangential to the show itself, you notice a blurring of boundaries, a bleeding of values between other items on display in this treasure trove of a space. And she’s everywhere, bringing life to a wooden ox that you may not have noticed before, or a Kenyan piece of fabric.

Haines’s work touches on Picasso-evocative pared down faces in profile, conjoined with others, as it reaches in…

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