• Sue Conradie

    Sue Conradie
    • Artist Statement
      • The philosophy of Humanism - the belief in the agency and power of human beings, rather than superstition, supernatural beliefs or religious dogma - is the foundation of my life and work. I am constantly searching for way to unravel the physical and emotional aspects of our humanity. In understanding ourselves as biological/emotional organisms who are part of nature, we might possibly be able to save ourselves as a species.

        I prefer the process and non-representational aspect of Abstract Expressionism. Either on its own, in large abstract works where colour becomes the subject or in combination with the figures and symbols that make up my portraits. The juxtaposition of the abstract and the figurative seems to result in a painting that is more surrealist than portrait and can sometimes end up as pop art.
    • Biography

      • Abstraction is the main focus of my paintings. I work in oils on small and large boards and
        canvases, making large gestural strokes in the way of sketching and working fast to sidestep
        too much analysis. In this way the marks remain free of my control and I find I can put my
        unconscious intention down in the paint more easily.
        The portraits tend to exist on the edge of pop art and involve a similar technique but I then later
        add finer detail. For the sake of sanity, I channel my doodling obsession into producing patterns
        and designs which I incorporate into some of my paintings or into digital work and photography.
        Most often I begin painting without knowing where I’m headed and at other times I write first to
        loosen my ideas. My poems have been published by Rhodes University and Sunpress. I live
        and work in Kommetjie, Cape Town with my husband and son.

        Member of Spier/Yellowwoods Creative Block Project
        Collections: Cape Town, London, Belgium, France and Austria

        UCT course - What is Mind? (neuropsychology) 2016
        UCT Course – Medical Humanities (art in medicine) 2016
        UNISA – Creative Writing 2008.
        Kirsten Academy of Design

        Selected Exhibitions:
        2017 Freedom in Art - Group Show, Cape Town city Hall - Prize winner
        2017 Winter Life - Group Show, The Studio, Imhoff’s Gift
        2017 AVA - Members’ Group Show, AVA Gallery Cape Town
        2017 What is Art For? - Group Show, 196 Victoria Road Woodstock
        2016 Eastside Auction - Group Show, and auction at Eastside Studios
        2016 Tiny Art – S.P.C. Gallery, Cape Town
        (first prize in the portrait section & third prize overall).
        2014 Face to Figure - Group Show, The Studio Kalk Bay Cape Town
        2014 Eye catching Portraits - Art B Gallery Belville
        (a showcase of the 60 semi finalists in The 2014 SPI National Portrait Award)
        2013 Group Show – The Studio, Kalk Bay
    • Interview
      • Which new trends or South African artists do you find inspiring at the moment?
        I really like the photography of Tony Gum. It seems to me that the African, South African and Cape Town art scenes are enjoying world-wide interest right now. There is so enormous talent and originality on our continent, a deep well of culture and a so-called new way of looking at life that is finally being acknowledged. I find it very exciting.

        Which South African deceased artist do you most admire and why?
        Stanley Pinker is one of my favourite artists. I admire the way he was able to explore satire, metaphor and social commentary during an horrendous time in our history and yet still create beautiful artworks. Marlene Dumas, another of my favourites, was his student. Her ability to convey meaning with a few simple strokes of her brush is awe-inspiring. 
        Which exhibition that you have visited made the greatest impact on you and why?

        It was not an exhibition that made the greatest impact on me but the light in Venice. It literally took my breath away. I wanted to keep that light, take it with me. I think about it often.
        Where do you get your inspiration for your work?

        I’m inspired by ideas. My strongest influence comes from a life-long interest in people, supported by the philosophy of Humanism - a philosophy based on scientific evidence, without any interference from religious dogma, spirituality or superstition. I often do online courses around these topics, as well as studying art history. I sometimes use a title, a line or a concept from one of my poems to begin a painting. I’m inspired by many artists out there (past and present).   
        Rothko (et al) said “There is no good art about nothing” Contemporary Art has taken that to heart. Today so much of contemporary art is all about the idea behind the work and has very little to do with what the work looks like, or whether it evokes any emotion. I admire much of this work and I most definitely want to use my skills and this opportunity as an artist to express the many ideas I turn over in my head, but I also want give myself and whoever sees my work the chance to feel something as well to think and to produce something to look at besides a phone, a computer or tv screen.
        Do you have any rituals or habits involving your art-making that you can tell us about?
        Writing is big part of the way I identify ideas and access my own mind and I use it often, along
        with doodling or sketching, to loosen my thoughts and beliefs. As a practice, I sometimes make
        very small works and then expand them onto large canvases or into fabric sculpture.

        What do you like most about being an artist?
        Being constantly creative is very important to me. I like the risk of not knowing what’s in the void ahead. It keeps me moving forward. Artists have the freedom to speak about whatever we want in whatever language we choose. It’s a real privilege.

        How do you handle bad days when you experience artist's block?
        In those times when lack of inspiration or overwhelm rears their heads, I focus on writing, improving my website or catching up on art history. Other times I try to paint anyway and make a few terrible drawings or paintings before something better starts to happen – if at all. I usually just put them aside or paint over them. It’s like spring cleaning my mind, getting rid of the clutter. Sometimes those drawings or paintings reveal interesting concepts or images that I can use later on. If that doesn’t work, I go meet a friend for coffee!

        What is your greatest achievement as an artist to date?
        Being a finalist in the 2014 SPI National Portrait Award 2014 when there were over 1900 entries
        and I had only just begun my career as an artist was big boost for me. But I have to say that
        waking up every day and being able to make art and live as a creative human is an absolute
        privilege and the fact that I’m a working artist, sharing platforms with so many talented people, is
        really my greatest achievement.

        Do you feel that you want to make a difference to the world or in people's lives? If yes, how?

        I’m not sure how much I could make a difference but the idea of speaking out in my own way gives me reason to get up in the morning. I love Africa. One of my ideas is emerging through a series called Beloved which includes people of Africa, mostly men, as they are, in their various jobs or going about their business, presented in the most charming way I can. My hope is that people and in particular my adopted son, welcome the celebration of the beauty and power of this amazing continent.

        What are your plans for the coming year?
        I will keep working and making art. I would love more opportunities to take part in group shows, I meet so many interesting people and find getting together with other artists really helpful. I plan to enter as many competitions as I have time for. Another goal is complete a Fine Art degree but that will have to wait a while.