Q&A with Gallery Award Finalist: LEZANNE KOTZE

We asked the Ten Gallery Award Finalists some questions to help you get to know them as we prepare for the special Group Exhibition at StateoftheART’s Cape Town gallery from 06 – 22nd September 2018 and the final round of judging. The winner will be awarded a R10 000 cash prize and a solo exhibition with the gallery in 2019.

See more about the Gallery Award here.


Tell us about yourself. Where are you based and where do you get your inspiration for your work?

I am a Creative and feel strongly that it is only through the act of creation all be it poetry, music, food or art that we glimpse God’s true nature. I am a 30 year old self-taught artist based in the small coastal town of Stilbaai were I work as a pharmacist. I spend all of my free time painting and it is truly a way of life as I am always thinking about a painting or contemplating the next one. The fauna and flora found here are uniquely diverse and distinct and greatly inspire my art and most of my themes. It is this love for the natural word and appreciation for its form and beauty that I try to depict. My work remains very decorative with organic forms contrasted against inorganic geometric forms and patterns to create a whole. I like to compose paintings with great bushes mostly Fynbos painted on stark backgrounds to emphasise the beauty in their simplicity and in this their intrinsic complexity. Mostly I paint simply for natures sake and because I love everything about it.

Do you have any rituals or habits involving your art-making that you can tell us about?

My studio is a little room in our house with lovely golden morning light that creates a sense of peace and possibility. I like to sit on this old wooden antique chair and drink my morning coffee, looking at canvas and just becoming calm before I go to work. Reminding myself to just think of my art whenever the normal working day gets too much, and that this remains my true purpose in life, to create. Perhaps a habit I have would be to do a clean-up of the study before I start my next painting. I will always use a new pallet as old dried paint left unused just makes me feel really guilty.
Which new trends or South African artists do you find inspiring at the moment?

I find the indefinable New Romantics art movement mentioned by Mary Corrigall very inspiring and identify with these contemporary artists and their portrayal of nature. A lot of interesting young local artists are creating something different and interesting which makes this a wonderful time to paint in. I love Kirsten Beets’ paintings Urban magic and Strangers to the city. Everything Kirsten Sims paints, especially her paintings Feels and Mr. Right II in the Fields group show. Ruby Swinney’s Human Nature exhibition at Zeitz MOCAA, Heidi Fourie’s Gravity with her distinctive brush strokes, Annie le Roux’s ink and charcoal work and Talita Steyn’s sculpture Gently profane to name a few artist I admire.

How is your work relevant in a South African context? And globally?

I think nothing is more relevant at this 11th Hour in South Africa and globally as conservation. South Africa has a unique biodiversity in our plant and animal wildlife with the Fynbos Biome regularly under threat from urban expansion and agricultural pressure. The Cape Floristic Region is recognised as a World Heritage Site for its rich floral diversity and art portraying these beauties from local artists seem truly “endemic”. My work depicts mostly fynbos, our relationship with nature and a movement to live more mindfully which I feel makes it relevant.

What do you think South African artists can contribute to the global art market?

I think we have a unique outlook and creativeness that stems from our rich cultural diversity and heritage. South African artists work show growth and I feel from our strong roots from our old Masters. It is just getting started.

What do you think of the StateoftheART Gallery Award as a platform for emerging artists in South Africa?

Awards and competitions like this one are very important especially for new artists or artists without formal training as the exposure is invaluable. It provides a platform to get in contact with other artists, gallerists and curators in a world that can be intimidating. Being a SOTA selective, all exhibitions are an important learning experience and StateoftheART has really provided me with guidance and exposure in my young career as an artist.

How do you think selling art online and marketing through social media is valuable?

I haven’t sold many paintings before posting my art on Instagram and listing them online at the gallery. The positive feedback and support from a similar minded art community and sales have encouraged me to be more confident. An online presence is important to connect with a wider audience and allow you to get exposure globally.

How do you feel about the upcoming group exhibition and the other shortlisted finalists’ works?

I am looking forward to seeing the other finalists work and meeting the interesting women behind them. I love Nadine Hansen’s art and I’m proud that our little town can represent. Exhibitions at the StateoftheART gallery are always fun with an inspiring atmosphere and lovely people.

Do you have any plans for the coming year?

Same as every New Year’s resolution I plan to paint more! Focus on creating a body of work with paintings that are more refined, this process is ever growing and improves with every finished painting. I would like to improve my technical skill, create better planned compositions and become more professional in my execution. All of this while still having fun and enjoying the process of course! I also plan on challenging myself with my portraiture painting and submit a portrait for the next Sanlam Portrait Awards.

If you win the Gallery Award, tell us about what you have in mind for your solo exhibition in 2019

To be granted the opportunity of a solo exhibition would be a dream! This solo would be an extension of the theme touched on in my four paintings submitted. I envision a series of paintings with large fields all connected with copper threads forming giant terrariums. Giving a shape to our environment and personalizing this overused word to force responsibility. To emphasize the importance of looking after your nature, visually representing ownership of fields, bushes and mountains placed in our care and how we affect everything living in our space. This series can be expanded to encompass human forms and the string figures that can be formed between bodies in motion to create terrariums with everything we nourish and grow inside. I would also like to paint smaller paintings focusing just on bushes and the shape found by connecting all the small leaves and twigs to create a bigger form. The beauty of this wholeness of an inorganic shape imposed on the natural one.

Lezanne Kotze is an artist born in 1987 and now lives in Stilbaai. Although she has no formal art training she strives to refine her own individual style and technique, painting in response to daily life. She paints part time mostly concentrating on landscapes and botanical style paintings where nature is simplified to emphasize its intricate beauty. Her chosen medium is predominantly oil with a whimsical style motivated by self-expression and inspired by nature. Influenced by the Garden of the Western Cape she is currently working on a series of contemporary botanical paintings focusing on indigenous flora.