07 February 2006

December 2002 – I was in my Paris studio, frantically painting, so as to complete the delicate little landscapes, destined for my imminent solo exhibition, scheduled for January 2003. I misjudged the detrimental effect the lack of light would have on my production. For once in my life, I had time in abundance, but ironically, insufficient daylight was now inhibiting my progress. My frustration escalated daily as I found it impossible to paint by artificial light – my eyes were suffering. As daylight faded, I would visit the d’Orsey and Louvre in order to maximise my Parisian experience and to liberate my creative spirit. During this time, I became particularly attracted and attached to Gauguin’s artwork and I desired his freedom of expression.

Although I completed the paintings in time and the exhibition was a resounding success, I resolved not to ever again paint on such a small scale. On my return to South Africa, I immediately set about painting a large (for me!) 800 x 600 landscape but it was taking the same course as the tiny ones. After a painstaking six weeks, I completed ‘SWIRL OF EXISTENCE’. However, while I was painting, I was developing and evolving within myself, a complete fresh style, which resulted in the Translucence Series.

In my opinion, there were several problem areas I needed to address. I felt the need to develop a technique that would enable me to cover larger surfaces in a rapid way. My intensely laboured “a la prima” technique was shackling me unnecessarily. Whilst observing the paintings in the museums of Paris, which varied from highly finished, realistic work (which up to that point I idealised), to the more contemporary styles including the Impressionists, I realised that a slightly lighter approach to my work could do no harm. As confirmation of this revelation, I also noticed that the crowds were always concentrated around the latter… observing this phenomenon was completely contradictory and fascinating!

Having only painted the Dessert (Poetry of silence), Landscape, Still Life and Cosmorganic series for several years, it was also long overdue for me to return to the subject matter of portrait and the figure. How had I gradually become so dehumanised? Even my palette was lifeless. Although one is under the impression that you are in control when making choices, it is only in retrospect that you realise your surroundings and emotional state created the vantage point, which influenced every single choice you made.

The rich, sensual, yet subdued colours of Gauguin intoxicated me. I didn’t think much of his drawing skills, but the intense planning (which eventually seemed incidental) and radical use of colour, fascinated and intrigued me.

I resolved to use Gabriella, my youngest daughter, as model. She possesses a soft, sensual and feminine appeal, and being a bit of an exhibitionist, she happily agreed to pose for me.

My working style is definitely ‘reactionary’. I usually do exactly the opposite of what I did previously. I build up vast amounts of tension when I create and changing my focus completely, acts as a safety valve.