I now find myself planning a drawing exhibition.
I approached a gallery I like (there are not many) on my visit to Johannesburg. Having done a lot of conceptual art of late, I had to ask myself why and how; do I suddenly turn to drawing.
There is this weird thing- conceptual art often seems to conceal (to an extent) in an often mysterious way. Whereas, I find, something physical like a drawing or painting (that is a 3D expression of a concept in shape on a paper) has some physicality that kind of demands attention, and speaks the undeniable truth and attitude. Fuck your concept, but it better present and clearly visible or the work is weak because what you see plays a huge (if not the biggest) role in what you get.
I had to be honest with myself. I have done a lot of conceptual art- art that often only exists momentarily. Art that often happens, and then it is over. The process that builds up to a fleeting moment is often the most important in such a work.
On the contrary to most of my conceptual works that take a lot of planning and often are very physically demanding, I have always found drawing or painting quite therapeutic. Meditative in a way. To me, so much gentler than my conceptual artworks.
I always push the boundaries (this comes naturally to me). I am not sure if it is my controlling nature that does not like to be told how, and what to do, but ever since I did my first painting in school I always had to be free of boundries. Maybe it was exactly these boundaries that taught me how to challenge.
The first painting I was proud of was the second one I did when I was 15. The project was to replicate a piece by some artist- in acrylic on A3 board. I chose to paint an Irma Stern ‘Eternal Child 1916’ because I love the painting and the little girl in it. I wanted to challenge myself.
The paint was applied in an expressionistic way. I wanted to feel the little girl when I painted, at the same time I had to pay incredible attention to detail to ‘copy’ Stern. I did not, like the other kids, use acrylic to replicate what I chose.
How could you? If it was painted in oil, to replicate it one would need to surely paint it in oils again? And so I did. I only bought the five primary colours, I wanted to teach myself to mix any colour I could ever imagine. Sometimes I look at the painting, and wonder if it was not my best- it was so honest. I certainly learnt the most from this piece.
The process of trying to balance the emotions I was feeling, re-capture the spirit of the little girl (from a painting where Stern had already, in my opinion, captured her spirit so beautifully and honestly – from my biased 2nd hand interpretation), to put my own signature on my painting- yet to copy the Stern painting to the best of my 15 year old innocent (naïve) perfection.
The title: ‘Eternal Child’ seems highly ironic now, almost mocking the conceptual path my adult life has taken since creating a replica circa 2001.
I gave the painting to my aunt- she used to fetch us from school. I felt like I could never thank her enough for transporting me and by siblings.
(A few years later seeing it in a cupboard at her house, I immediately asked for it back.)
My parents worked very long hours- 6 days a week, and we would often wait in front of the school from when school finished till they would arrive often only after 17:30.
This was one of my biggest frustrations in life. We were just told to wait unsure of whether my parents would arrive in 5 minutes or only hours later. This taught me to have an incredible respect for people’s time. Money can be made, but time can not.
I participated in some sports to kill the time, and when I discovered art in high school I use to sit in the art class and paint and draw. I was obsessed with creating. In the same vain I can also add that I just loved the conversation, I often created alone, but spent hours socialising in art class, sometimes (unknowingly to the others) drinking wine whilst talking away.
Being social, being in love and being around other people has always been integral to my functioning. I love people! I love to love! I love to be loved! I want to create, eat, sleep and share every life moment possible with fellow human beings. I want to be able to talk about it all! All the time! We here once only, and we better make it interesting.
For most of my high school career we only did drawing and painting. My art teacher was the most amazing young lady, we are still friends. My school embraced me- let me test boundaries and excused my absence from almost anything not related to Art, almost all of the time. I went to the art class most days for the entire day of school, only going to the classes of subjects I enjoyed, and teachers I enjoyed.
It was a social paradise.I loved school! I still dream about making art in that class- with my teacher. I respect and love her beyond words. I guess painting and drawing for me was where it all started. Today,it is still therapeutic to me.
The school environment was care free -hormone fuelled- but care free. No real worries, no real responsibility. A platform to create innocent, honest and no hidden agenda art. Painting and drawing was the main form of practice. I firmly believe it is these two things that shaped even my most complex conceptual works to date.
Whilst busy finishing this sentence hours ago , the school of my son, Luke, phones to tell me he is ill- a whole day gone. Poor little man -exhausted and diagnosed with infected tonsils L This #reallife reminder inspired me to write this. ????
When I spoke to the gallery I am planning to have my upcoming show at (a drawing exhibition), they immediately mentioned the size of the space and that the work need to be in light transportable format as the gallery is in Johannesburg – boundaries* I hate to love them and I love to hate them.
Apart from being practical for the works being showed in another city, I am also really keen to challenge myself to put together a drawing exhibition that is equally conceptually and visually strong.
I have never before done this, and it feels to me that it will force me to colliding these two separate parts of my existence- this carefree innocent, somewhat naïve, yet resilient school girl who could paint and draw and the, divorced, mother, x-wife who creates these sometimes dramatic, sometimes very large, sometimes very loud conceptual works..
I would love to create art that is both gentle and powerful, that conceals and reveals at the same time. Reality also forces one to look at the commercial side of art.
What sells? I have never been one too concerned with sales- as my work mostly is not sellable, conceptual and even not tangible in some cases. I enjoy business, and the challenge of making money, and I would never change my art to a formula in order to make money through it.
I always explain conceptual art to people as a catwalk. I make couture clothing, but in the shop you get the interesting jeans and T shirts form the same label/designer- it is just more practical- but also unique. It still carries the signature and edge of the creator. It is a reflection of the couture creator genius on a more practical level.
I hope for my art to take me in that direction (for a while). I hope to revisit my younger artist, to show this older artist the spontaneity, innocence and gentleness of a decade ago. In turn, I want the older artist in me to teach and inspire the younger one where she faltered and succeeded or was perhaps too naïve or ignorant.
I also want my art to take me places, therefore I need to give galleries something more practical. I want to travel with purpose!
I want to stop worrying about making money on the side, starting new business and focus all my energy on the ‘shop’ part I want to sell my ‘high end fashion’ inspired pieces from. I want to keep it all alive with new ‘couture’ shows, but at the same time have an exciting and unique expression of me represented in the more practical pieces.
A more practical, yet gentler, innocent and naïve self. I want my art to become more and more honest.
I want to create something equal in concept and presence. In a way I am tired of the terrible force I had to live by the last few years. I want to balance it out in the most non boring and ever changing, organic and hippy way I probably can, whilst drawing inspiration from some Hipster, and still keeping it undeniably unique! ????