Noeleen Kleve

Noeleen Kleve

South Africa | 8 artworks for sale

Life’s journey takes one along many roads – often with unexpected turns and distances to cover. The past decade has drawn me deeper into exploring the many possibilities and ‘magical moments’ of printmaking. The intricacies of this diverse art form never cease to fascinate me - as the plate (or matrix) transforms from one state to another, and finally to the hand-inked print. 

This metamorphosis relates to my visual expression of the liminal, in-between, transformative journey of life. Issues that resonate for me most relate to the land in both a physical and spiritual sense, as well as environmental concerns. I am constantly exploring new ways to give these expression through my art.

Since my work is evocative (rather than representative), I hope to stall the viewer into a moment of introspection or a time of contemplation; where perhaps a thought might shift some direction towards positive transformation in some small way.

“Art is not what you see, but what you make others see.” (Edgar Degas)
B. Visual Art (UNISA)

My yearning for the escape into nature stems from early childhood, where my journey into art began with doodling on the walls under my artist mother’s table.

Growing up enjoying the beaches of the Eastern Cape and frequent visits to my Granny’s farm we enjoyed the freedom of exploring nature’s wide open spaces. This is where my intimate connection to the land in both a geographical and spiritual sense, began.

School art lessons led to an interest in Graphic Design which I studied at the Ruth Prowse School of Art in Cape Town, graduating in 1983.
Over the next two decades I worked in design studios, enjoyed freelance work, lectured at the Austin Ellis Graphic Design School and established my own digital design and print business. I then embarked on a metamorphic and wonderfully enriching journey into process art-making. Learning new ways to explore artmaking through a more tactile and conceptual approach, ranging from video and installation, to painting and printmaking, I completed my B. Visual Art degree with UNISA in 2013.

Once I’d discovered printmaking and the endless possibilities of this art form I have not looked back!
Exhibiting frequently with a diversity of conceptual works, I now enjoy life as an independent artist and art educator working from my studio in Kommetjie. Paper works resonate most for me and my current works are predominantly etching and monotype, giving visual expression to themes and concepts about which I am passionate. These mostly reflect environmental concerns as well as physical and spiritual connections to the land.

I have participated in several group exhibitions both nationally and internationally and ultimately hope to bring joy and evoke response through my artmaking.

Selected Exhibitions: 

2020

Open Studios Kommetjie, Noeleen Kleve Studio, Cape Town
Summer Salon,  Glen Carlou Gallery, Paarl
'#TPG2020', The Art Room, Parkhurst
'Light from Dark,Spin Street Gallery, Cape Town

2019    
Kommetjie Open Studios, Noeleen Kleve Studio, Cape Town
'Say Africa', White River Gallery, White River
'Winter Life', Studio Gallery, Simonstown
RMB Turbine Art Fair, White River Gallery, Johannesburg
SA Fine Art Print Fair FAP19, Parktown, Johannesburg
'NANO 1.3', Barnard Gallery, Cape Town
Paper Works, Gardens, Cape Town

2018
Summer Salon, White River Gallery
'Printmakers of Venice', MOK Gallery, Stellenbosch
'Flight', art.b, Bellville
Turbine Art Fair, White River Gallery, Johannesburg
'A Palette of Short Stories', White River Gallery, White River
'Journey in Print', Whow Studios, Durbanville

2017
SA Fine Art Print Fair FAP17, GIBS, Johannesburg
Scuola Internazionale di Grafica Annual Show, Venice
'Buzzted', Art@Almenkerk, Elgin
'Drought', Artvark, Kalk Bay
'Clare, Theo, Johann & Friends', art.b, Bellville
'Up My Sleeve', Mok Gallery, Stellenbosch
'Fear & Loss: The Industrial Karoo', Khazimla, De Aar

2016
FEAR & LOSS - The Industrial Karoo, Jan Rupert Art Centre (Graaff Reinet)

2015
TWO, SMITH Gallery (Cape Town)
Online Group exhibition with outoftheCUBE at Fried Contemporary Gallery (Pretoria)
Turbine Art Fair, Turbine Hall (Johannesburg)
'The Red Data Pavilion', Public space (Venice, Italy)
'Fear & Loss - The Industrial Karoo', Pretoria Art Museum (Pretoria)
'Grande II', Rust-en-Vrede Gallery (Durbanville)

2014
'The Industrial Karoo - Fear&Loss’, Oliewenhuis Kuns Museum (Bloemfontein)
‘Vernisage VII’, Lookout Gallery (Plettenberg Bay)
‘Music & Lyrics’, Rust-en-Vrede (Durbanville)

2013
Misconstruction, outoftheCUBE (www.outofthecube.co.za)
Storyline: exploring narrative in visual art prints, Lovell Gallery (Cape Town)

2012
‘Fear & Loss - 2052 Karoo’, KKNK (Oudsthoorn)
‘2052 Karoo - Fear & Loss’, National Arts Festival (Grahamstown)
‘Walk this earth alone’, Grande Provence Gallery (Franschhoek)
‘Dolerite - 2052 Karoo’, Prince Albert Festival (Prince Albert)
‘Unisa Graduate Exhibition’, Lovell Gallery (Cape Town)
‘Print’ exhibition, Youngblood Arts & Culture Development  (Cape Town)

2011
‘Berg’ exhibition, Athol Fugard Festival (Nieu Bethesda)
‘Print’ exhibition, Rust-en-Vrede (Cape Town)
‘Animals in law and society: perspectives from Africa
and beyond’ exhibition, Unisa (Pretoria)
Unisa 3rd Year Group Exhibition, art.b (Bellville)

2010
‘[In]sight’ exhibition, Rust-en-Vrede (Cape Town)
‘Print’ exhibition, These Four Walls (Cape Town)
‘Les Artistes’ exhibition, Aardvark Gallery (Cape
Which new trends or South African artists do you find inspiring at the moment?
I find I am inspired by so many of South Africa’s artists as they reflect the diversity and tenacious spirit of our country. Among them, Deborah Bell and Robyn Penn whose conceptual ideas and printmaking styles resonate for me.
I have always admired Diane Victor for her courage to interrogate difficult social issues, as well as her masterful draftsmanship and her commitment and discipline.  I love Karin Daymond’s work as well as that of Emma Willemse. Gerhard Marx still inspires me as do printmakers Bevan de Wet, Georgina Berens and Johann Booyens. And William Kentridge for his prolific creativity and cross-discipline skills.

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

I have always admired Cecil Skotnes for his commitment to art education and growth in South African art. Peter Clarke too was a prolific and incredibly talented local artist who overcame great challenges and barriers wrought by the oppressive apartheid system.

If you could only have one piece of art in your life, what would it be?

Julie Mehretu’s Epigraph, Damascus (2016) – a complex 6-panel etching totaling 248 x 574cm

Pick three artists who you would be honored to exhibit with – and why
Emma Willemse is an accomplished conceptual artist who exhibits both locally and globally and who has been an inspiration to me since my UNISA student days. Her technically varied artworks include sculpture, printmaking, installation, artists’ books, painting and drawing. It would be a privilege to exhibit alongside this skilled artist.  
Karin Daymond is someone whose work I admire for her visual connection to the land and the emotional underpinning she portrays so masterfully.
Laurel Holmes too is an artist who inspires me. Her commitment to her art practice is evident in her recent solo “Watermark”, held at StateoftheArt.
I am honoured to be exhibiting with both Karin Daymond and Laurel Holmes in March 2021.

How did you get started? Did you always want to be an artist?

I qualified and worked as a graphic designer for several years, during which I enjoyed drawing and painting – but more as a hobby. The desire to develop my art led me to exploring course options. Having seen the conceptual work of an artist I met at a life drawing group, I enrolled with UNISA and spent the next 8 years delving deep into concept, visual metaphor, theory of art and discovering new materials and mediums.
In my fourth year of study, I discovered printmaking and was immediately hooked! The alchemy and graphic forms were compelling and I soon bought my own press so that I could explore and experiment to my heart’s content. I had found my calling.

What are some of the key themes you explore in your work?
I am interested in the land: in a geographical, environmental and spiritual sense. As stewards of this created earth, my mission is to give voice to issues surrounding the impact of humans on nature and the self-destruction that this causes through my artwork.
Yearning is another theme that I work with, through the concept of the liminal or in-between. My reference is twofold: both my spiritual life of faith, as well as the longing for close family who live on the other side of the world.

What should people know about your art that they can’t tell from looking at it?
Printmaking involves many stages before the final print is produced. An etching, for example, requires the careful preparation of an industrially produced copper plate, to a highly polished finish before beginning even the first process.
Platemaking can take many hours and often days of working and developing the image through several techniques and processes, to a point where the printed proof yields what the artist intends. It is, however, this labour intensive, mindful process, that I so enjoy.

Tell us more about your creative process.
In my daily life I constantly gather visual imagery by observing and photographing wherever I go. My creative thoughts are fed by my own life experiences, as well as by reading articles and listening to podcasts, interviews and other media that interest or inspire me. Once an idea takes root, I often read up on some academic underpinning, and begin to research relevant material – both literary and visual. My own visual imagery begins to manifest through sketching and collaging, while a ‘stream of consciousness’ allows me to imagine or conceptualise all the possibilities I can think of relating to process, materials, medium, composition, and other formal qualities of art.

Do you believe an artist should use their platform to influence society? Why?
Yes, absolutely. As the old adage ‘art reflects life’ says, I believe that created images can allow the viewer to see things from a different perspective. If an artwork precipitates a reaction, be it good or bad, then the artist has succeeded in giving a voice to the issue, concept or emotion intended in the artwork. Even if it is ‘beauty’ that is sought after, or intended, then this could be a reaction to ‘life’. As an example, my own positive escape during lockdown, was to look to the beauty and regenerative qualities of nature as a soothing balm in the midst of chaos. My artwork has also addressed the plight of the honeybee, bringing awareness to this dire issue through the platform of my art-making.

Do you have a favourite or most meaningful work?
My most meaningful work to date is The Map is not the Territory (2019). With map-like images made up of several geographical places which hold meaning for me, I created new imaginary lands by overlapping or collaging the imagery This became a large single etching. I then cut this large etched plate into smaller irregularly shaped shards, and printed those as a disconnected whole. The work alludes to the yearning to be somewhere in the ‘not yet’, while simultaneously finding oneself in the liminal (or in-between) ‘now’. It is underpinned by the geographical longing to be with my close family, and the spiritual longing for the escape from this dystopian life.

What is your greatest achievement as an artist to date?
To be fulfilling my purpose, working a full time artist in my own studio, managing the busy work-life of sharing my passion through teaching, while making time to create new work to exhibit.

What are your aspirations for the future?
To be able to grow my art practice to impact others lives and to bring glory to God through the work of my hands.