Tearing, Punching... Install 1
Tearing, Punching... Install 2
Tearing, Punching... Install 3
Tearing, Punching... Install 4
Tearing, Punching... Install 5
Tearing, Punching... Install 6
Jonathan Callan, Rolling up the Empire of 1971, Paper and screws, 64 x 55 x 30cm, 2024.
Sam Lock, The boyhood of Raleigh, Mixed media on panel, 120 x 120 cm, 2023
Bonolo Kavula_Let Go_2024_Punched Shweshwe and Thread_125 x 20cm_Unique_Detail 5_

Private view: July 10, 2024, 6-9 pm

Tearing, Punching, Squeezing, Drilling
Four ways to manipulate books and magazines

Jonathan Callan | Oskar Holweck | Sam Lock | Bonolo Kavula

Patrick Heide Contemporary Art is delighted to present an exhibition that brings together four international artists spanning different generations: Oskar Holweck (1924-2007, Germany), Jonathan Callan (b.1961, UK), Sam Lock (b.1973, UK), and Bonolo Kavula (b. 1992, South Africa). Each artist uniquely explores the extensive capabilities of books and magazines as a medium, transforming them into abstract sculptures, mixed media paintings and collages.

The exhibition originates from dialogues around the work of Oskar Holweck, a pioneer of paper art in Europe, who would have turned 100 this year. Typical of Group Zero, a movement he is associated with, Holweck's art focuses on paper as a material and its manipulation. As a spiritual father of paper experimentation, he dedicated himself mainly to white industrial paper, treating it as a sculptural material to reveal the “coloured” nature of white. The exhibition's title is inspired by Holweck's description of his far-reaching methods: “…bending, creasing, crumpling, folding, pressing, squeezing, compressing, stretching, scoring, piercing, tearing, slitting, cutting, glueing, knocking, beating, drilling, sawing….”

Some of these processes apply to the works of the three other artists in the exhibition: Jonathan Callan (Squeezing), Sam Lock (Tearing), and Bonolo Kavula (Punching). However, unlike Holweck, when employing paper in their practice in the form of books and magazines, these artists do not pursue a mainly process-based approach yet reach out to conceptual levels and beyond. They explore the various properties of the material as a formal and textured entity as well as an information bearer, engaging with themes of culture and memory at the same time. Tearing, Punching, Squeezing, Drilling invites to explore each artist's practice, taking the way they treat and edit the medium as a starting point.


For his mixed media paintings, Sam Lock disassembles vintage art books from the 1930s, "The World’s Greatest Paintings," tearing off page after page. He later assembles them on a canvas to create his abstract compositions. These books, comprising masterpieces from world art galleries, are stripped of their imagery, leaving the pages blank. Lock is more interested in the yellowed, marked, and thick-textured book paper beneath, which for him conveys timelessness, overlapping past and present. Using books allows Lock to relinquish control over his artistic decisions: “book paper or covers already come with an absent presence; writer, publisher, binder, owner, reader – who have already left their mark, my marks follow on and add my moments in time to the palimpsest.”


Interested in cultural, colonial, and historical themes, Bonolo Kavula creates intricate minimalist objects using textile, paper cutouts, and thread. Her works consist of geometric systems of connected tiny, punched circles of Shweshwe fabric or paper. By using printed dyed cotton fabric, common in traditional Southern African clothing, to create abstract imagery, Kavula challenges traditional representations of her culture. The series commissioned for Tearing, Punching, Squeezing, Drilling includes works made with punched elements from South African magazines. Kavula collects issues featuring black women on the cover, deconstructing and reconstructing the pages to reveal their content in a new abstract dimension.


Jonathan Callan's sculptures are made entirely from collected books, which he squeezes and twists, recharging or obliterating their original content. For Callan, books symbolize Western culture, which he views as predominantly literary. His interest in the transformation and decline of Western culture is reflected in his manipulations. The sculptures, though made from industrial materials, resemble natural forms, symbolically returning books to their original form as tree trunks. For his recent series of works, Callan poignantly uses editions of The British Empire magazines, a series about the Empire's history and influence, presenting it uncritically and sympathetically that would not be possible nowadays.


The works from Holweck’s Diary Series result from drilling horizontal lines of tears and holes into blank custom-made books that he disassembled into separate pages. Holweck created his first paper reliefs in 1958 developing a minimalist and radically abstract language. After discovering the sculptural possibilities of paper, Holweck became more invested in manipulating and challenging the medium than in the final result. Each piece from the Diary Series is uniquely titled with a dating system to precisely specify the time of its creation. Oskar Holweck will have a solo exhibition at the gallery in November this year, marking the centenary of the artist’s birth.




Current exhibition