Saturday, February 3, 2007

Artist's Statement

This is the artist's statement I wrote in 2007 and had on my website for a long while:

Paintings take time. It's what has always attracted me to the act of making them - they won't be coaxed, cajoled or knocked out. The good ones take their own good time, the good ones thrill you every time. 

I began my career as a landscape painter, mainly because I felt that landscape was the best vehicle to explore the full range of paint's effects and how it affects us.  Translating landscapes into paintings; building up a personal lexicon to register the vastness of experiencing the landscape struck me as the ultimate ambition of a painter. 

I lived in the arid region of South Africa known as the Karoo for several years after graduating from Rhodes University. I produced works ranging from colour fields to photo-real representations of carefully chosen scenes. 

It was only when I started working with found objects (mostly old kitchen utensils found in the veld and often near deserted settlements) that I began to see the scope of introducing a third element directly into the paintings - reference to human habitation and its shaping of the landscape. These works became intimate archaeologies as well as traditional still lifes telling a typically South African story: the romanticization of poverty. 

Emerging from the idyllic world of the Karoo, I moved to the real-life city of Johannesburg. Johannesburg has proved fertile ground indeed for a painter used to big sky and big silence. 

Experiencing the city has been a far more passive process - more observer than participant - whereas the country demanded actively engaging the surrounding world, actively walking through it rather than watching it walk around you. My initial response was to tabulate things, culminating in the 2 larger grid paintings. Lists seemed a logical way to get my eye in. I then began a series of works about the inner city, night-charting my journey through the city to my studio. It culminated in a show called 'night ride home'. 

Traveling and producing work in Germany, Ireland and the United States have added to the bank of images waiting to be released into paint - in their own good time.
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