Artist statement or rationale or why I do what I do

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June 11, 2012 by petrujviljoen

Art (and craft) or creativity in general is an intellectual process whereby both the maker of the work and the viewer create meaning as its best function, but not the least, enjoyment of the work made. It is about communication. The maker’s and the viewer’s interaction with the work gives it its life.

Whatever artwork I make is about investigation of the subject matter. What it looks like, what it is, how did it come to be as it is and what does it do. Even abstractions are about investigating a response to either accumulated stimuli of subject matter or a particular theme. It may be strange to wonder what the subject matter ‘does’. Doesn’t everything have a function of some sort? Does it reflect colour, does its roundness or squareness or anamorphic shape stand out in its surroundings or context or is it not easily noticeable? Is it movable or static? Flowers, vases, rocks, tables, mountains have a role or function within each of its particular contexts. Whatever the subject matter, it necessarily has an influence on the human psyche on one level or another. In the context of artmaking, it at least makes one wonder. A vase is a vase is a mountain when one begins to paint or draw it.

Depending on the reference material I use, i.e. working from the actual objects or scenery, or from a photograph, decides the process. When I work from a photograph, as I have been doing lately, I compose the photograph on the computer, make a printout and start painting a la prima if you like. The mixing of a particular colour is a journey in itself. Realism, with the intense engagement I work with, becomes almost expressionist. Or so I would like to think. I also would like to think that by paying close attention to colour, an homage is paid to the subject matter and thereby a sense of spirituality may be imbued in the artmaking.

Stone Works
Acrylic on Paper (approx. A3)

rock on rock
acrylic on paper
(approx. A3)

I also have a workbook or an idea book where I work out ideas of what might become an artwork. I paste photos in it, make notes, do mind maps, make doodles etc. It jogs the old brain cells a bit so that one doesn’t stagnate with only one working method. It keeps one thinking.

workbook a
exploring patterns towards ‘abstraction’

workbook b
text & pics & doodles

workbook c
pencil and notes

I’ve been employing my entry-level digital camera as an artmaking tool in itself. It takes excellent close up photographs. The rock formations where I live have recurring patterns and marks that I photograph and regard as a work in itself.

reoccurrence b

The theme I’m busy with in ‘x marks the spot’ is a conceptual treasure map.

x marks the spot y

x marks the spot s

x marks the spot g

Treasure being an insight or idea.There are traces of gold left here and the very idea of it invokes a smile. I mostly photograph the x’s as I find them.

Every walk I go on in nature is a cleansing and healing process.

So every ‘x marks the spot’ is one step ahead on this journey.

The geological history of where I find myself is at least 200 million years old. Walking on and in such an idea of time leaves me mostly speechless. I therefore paint and draw and photograph and doodle to try to get the wordless across.

On how well one thinks directly pertains to the quality of the work.

The Lapis

They’re embryonic or anamorphic. I once had the opportunity to look at a scientific book on embryology and I was impressed by the plant-like forms of the very early stages of the development of the fetus. One can also think of them as phases of the moon. The small stones are found objects which I begin to sand and file with hand tools. The electric one got used up. I mostly follow shapes apparent in the stones already, adding features as the idea of what to do next emerges. It takes hours. Wasted time? I don’t think so. They are really lovely.
The idea is to embed them in old cut up journals. words to stone; stones shall speak; a personal history having taken form. They’ve been a compulsion for quite some time and entirely removed from presenting them as objects for the market. I therefore see them as soul stones. And as meditations. Aware of having thoughts while making them but don’t remember what thoughts. I’m considering working bigger stones.

I’m a feminist with a lot to learn and unlearn.

The series of pics are in fact one long artwork on a horizontal format as a narrative collage. I call it From Wellbeing to Being Cut Down to Size to Fit into a Man’s World.

This just about covers the artistic endeavours. I hope to post blogs on my reading and writing activities in the very near future.

Please comment.


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