• Zaan Claassens

    Zaan Claassens
    • Artist Statement
      • My passion for art has always connected me to the natural and spiritual worlds. My desire is to capture the essence of life, be it in myself or others, landscapes, objects, spaces, or in pure, raw emotion…

        I typically work in a realistic style, but I am not interested in merely replicating the natural world. I want to infuse it with a soul. My art is a celebration of life: everyday moments & emotions that are monumentalized & immortalized.

        My media is diverse because I love to explore the unique possibilities of each medium. I primarily work in oil paint, bronze sculpture & digital photography, but have also explored black & white photography, collage, pastel, charcoal, ink, pencil, mixed media & textiles
    • Biography
      • 2011  Sculpture Mould Making Course with Brendhan Dickerson, Ruth Prowse Art School, Cape Town, South Africa
        2004  Canadian Art – Continuing Studies through University of Western Ontario, Canada
        2001  Arts Business Course with John White, The Arts Project, London, Canada
        1994-1996 Life Drawing with Keith Howard, Fairview College, Peace River, Canada
        1989-1992  BA in Graphic Design from Stellenbosch University
        1988  Textile Design with Susan Christopherson, Miami University, Oxford, Ohio, USA

        Zaan's works hang in a host of private collections around the world and publicly in collections in South Africa, Canada, Ireland and the Northern Mariana Island of Saipan. Zaan has been participating in group exhibitions since 1988. She has exhibited in Canada, England, the Pacific, the USA, Germany and South Africa.

        Selected Solo Exhibitions:

        2010/01/20-02/15 Exhibition at The Winchester
        Mansions, Cape Town, RSA


        2005/12/13-20 BMW Pavilion, Cape Town, South Africa


        2004/09 Old City Hall, London, Canada


        2004/05/11-22 Brushstrokes of the Imagination:
        The Texture of Space, The Arts Project, London, Canada


        2004/04/16,17,18 London Artist Studio Tours,
        London, Canada


        2002/09/27-10/15 The Art Exchange, London, Canada


    • Interview
      • Which new trends or South African artists do you find inspiring at the moment?
        Conrad Botes, Anton Kannemeyer, Angus Taylor, Lionel Smit, Peter Hugo, Judy Woodborne, Yolandi Visser amongst others.

        Which South African deceased artist do you most admire and why?

        Irma Stern. I fell in love with her life and her work when I was 14. We’d just moved back to South Africa after 4 years in Zimbabwe and were living in Rondebosch. For me, going to the Irma Sterm Museum in Rosebank, was like going to heaven…

        Which exhibition that you have visited made the greatest impact on you and why?

        Please can I say more than one, because “greatest”…? Certain exhibitions have left me feeling ecstatic with awe and inspired with hope at the magnificence that the dedicated artist is able to achieve… in one lifetime. Vigland Park in Oslo: massive, magnificently carved Granite sculptures as well as 14,000 individual maquettes and other works. Blown away…Odd Nerdrum: this oomie can really paint! Munch: to have seen “The Scream” just before it fetched $120m after just 12 minutes. Unimaginable……Dali (New York), Egon Schiele (New York), Durer (Germany), Klimt (New York), Van Gogh (Amsterdam), Rodin (Paris), Turner (London and Toronto), Burtynsky (Toronto), Frieda Kahlo (London)…Maybe the greatest exhibition that I missed was Lucian Freud’s Portraits this year (2012) in London. But you can’t be everywhere at once. Pity.

        Where do you get your inspiration for your work?
        Mostly I find inspiration in the fine detail of the beauty that surrounds us. But sometimes it’s just a feeling that takes it’s origin somewhere between the heart and the gut and finds it’s way out through the fingertips materializing in a work of art.

        Do you have any rituals or habits involving your art-making that you can tell us about?
        It varies: Often it starts with a big clean. I will tidy my studio for two days having promised myself to start work on the beginning of the 2nd day… it’s a productive form of procrastination. Nothing is better than a clean slate. I can’t start in a chaotic mess, but I can continue in a mess. Or, sometimes I start spontaneously at 4pm and go for 10 hours or more, with loud music… it’s like a big Jol (party). Or…Sometimes I go the more traditional route of doing prelim drawings and sketches from nature, searching the internet, browsing my huge collection of photographs and then working out the composition, deciding on the colour, painstakingly mapping out the plan etc…

        What do you like most about being an artist?
        I really, really absolutely LOVE what I do. I love the process. I still find it fascinating that I start with nothing, then I think of something and then I get busy and then… I have something beautiful or interesting or entertaining for you.

        How do you handle bad days when you experience artist's block?
        I immerse myself in nature: I go surfing, or paddling, or trail running or walking up Table Mountain, or mountain biking, or I work in my garden, prune my roses or plant vegetables. Or I spend time in my studio feasting my eyes over one of my beautiful books or looking at my photographs. I suffer more the clock than the block. Not enough time!

        What is your greatest achievement as an artist to date?
        Because my life and my art are so interwoven and interconnected I would have to say that it is the living of life to the fullest, with enthusiasm and energy. It is that I’ve not having given up. It’s about following your dreams. It’s survival. It’s having a child. It’s having experienced so many different lives or chapters. It’s having lived in so many different places on the planet. It’s really an accumulation of everything that I am. It’s living the life of an artist. It’s being an artist.

        Do you feel that you want to make a difference to the world or in people's lives? If yes, how?
        Most certainly! I don’t paint to sell. I don’t sculpt to sell. That people buy my art is a total privilege. I find it absolutely thrilling that someone wants to live with something I’ve made so that they can see it and touch it everyday. I like to think that this makes a difference to their world.
        On another level I’d like to…  (not in order of preference) :
        •    educate humans to stop mindlessly BREEDING,
        •    provide sterilization clinics for both men and women (so that starving, abused and unwanted children are saved from being     born in the first place
        •    annihilate RHINO poachers, poison Rhino-horn eaters,
        •    put on a tomb-raider-chick outfit and hunt down the HUNTERS of endangered species
        •    stop filth and pollution from entering our SEAS
        •    ban the SUV, Suburban Uber Vehicle
        •    bring in a law whereby, during rush hour, people are severely fined if traveling alone ie: NOT one person, one car, one person, one car.
        •    make pig feed from the carcasses (meaning: worthless remains) of pedophiles, rapists, murderers and the like.

        What are your plans for the coming year?
        Live energetically, produce prolifically, travel abroadly, create enthusiastically.
        Love, Laugh, Plant… with appreciation.




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