Which new trends or South African artists do you find inspiring at the moment?
As someone who is very adamant about the upkeep of drawing and painting, I always find it encouraging coming across artists who are working in, truly engaging with, and seriously pursuing these more traditional mediums (despite contemporary art trends). Some of the artists whose work I find exciting at present include Judith Mason, Virginia McKenny, Deborah Poynton, Jake Aikman, Elizabeth Gunter & Peter van Straten.
Which South African deceased artist do you most admire and why?
My pick would have to be amongst the old greats of South African landscape art. In singling out one, I choose Thomas Bowler for his exceptional landscape sketches and paintings, as well as for the contribution he made to the genre as a teacher and artist.
Which exhibition that you have visited made the greatest impact on you and why?
There are two that come to mind. The first is an exhibition by Judith Mason entitled A Prospect of Icons. I visited the exhibition in high school with my painting class and at the time it made me extremely excited about painting. I found her visual style and technique genuinely captivating and fascinating, which was very encouraging to me as a young art student. The second is a fairly recent exhibition by Deborah Poynton entitled Pictures, for the sublimity of her large paintings, as well as for the powerful and critical manner with which she deals with concepts such as landscape, the picturesque and the sublime.
Where do you get your inspiration for your work?
From many things that I cannot and do not want to put my finger on, but those that I can name include overwhelming natural phenomena, particularly mountains, creation and the ultimate Creator – that which is terrifying and powerfully beautiful at the same time. Such music is also a great aid.
Do you have any rituals or habits involving your art-making that you can tell us about?
Other than usually taking some time to put on music and deciding on an image to work with, my habits before I start working mostly involve ordering things in my studio space that I would need to work with, such as brushes, ink etc. In starting a new drawing, since it forms part of my concept, I evaluate some of the variables available to me within the studio space (the size and length of my brush, drawing on the floor versus drawing on the wall, and time) and mold them into a rigid formula (presented as the drawings’ titles). I start by deciding whether I am going to work on the floor or the wall and what the different lengths and sizes of my paintbrush will be, as well as the time period that I will work with each of these lengths and sizes. These then get worked into a pattern that control the progression and outcome of the drawing. This is something I become fairly obsessive about, so it often takes a great deal of time before I arrive at a system that makes sense as a pattern on a page, that makes sense in relation to the previous drawings’ systems and that complies to my personal, practical, process and studio based logic.
What do you like most about being an artist?
Creating.Being immersed in an art-making process – the tactility of it and the sensory qualities involved.
Being able to experiment and play around with materials and mediums, creating a mess that I find visually interesting.The privilege of communicating and sharing visually.Celebrating a successful end product. I have a great respect for artistic thinking and expression in many forms so just feeling like I am in some way connected to that and a part of the arts is a massive encouragement.
How do you handle bad days when you experience artist's block?
If there is work to be done I need to work no matter how I am feeling. My work is largely about process and the time and labour involved in art making. The systems/formulas that I create for each drawing are intended to force me to push through, to work tirelessly, to always produce, and to not waste time feeling anxious with nothing to show for it. The idea is to draw attention to the realities of working, communicating every aspect of my working process.
What is your greatest achievement as an artist to date?
Completing my Fine Arts degree with distinction.
Do you feel that you want to make a difference to the world or in people's lives? If yes, how?
Yes, I might not exactly know how but I believe it starts with sincerely working with and through things that you feel strongly about, hoping that it might find a connection somewhere. I feel that through playing off images and concepts available in the art world and communicating their way of seeing and thinking, every artist has the opportunity to grow the great conversation that is art, and I would love to, in my own humble way, be part of the conversation. There are very definite things that I attempt to communicate through my work such as, amongst others, glorifying mountains and trying to shift focus slightly from the end product to the actual realities of the working process and the truth involved there. However, the prospect of even one person taking something from your work that you never intended is also a great motivation. On a further note, being a young artist as well as a strong Christian, I often feel that the two are misconstrued as opposites, since art has a rebellious association and Christianity a conservative one. Being passionate about both I hope to contribute to breaking that divide. I always find it very encouraging to come across people who are both serious artists as well as serious Christians and therefore I have a great desire to encourage in the same way.
What are your plans for the coming year?
To really invest in networking my work, to enter as many art competitions as I can and to make use of every opportunity to grow as an artist. I also have the Keith Dietrich Award group exhibition at Gus Gallery Stellenbosch in May/June to look forward to. Finally, I have a great desire to move to Cape Town and get more involved in the art industry as well as to find work to sustain myself as an artist.