Which South African deceased artist do you most admire and why?
Alexis Preller (6 September 1911 – 13 December 1975) Although largely overlooked by his own generation and the art establishment of his time, Preller’s work has always resonated with me. Not for reasons one might expect though, contrary to popular classification of Preller’s work, in my mind Preller was the first to create an afro-centric POP tradition. His images could easily be stills from pop videos flashing across our screens on MTV. His ability to transform traditional African and ancient Greek imagery into sharp contemporary works like his Kouros series, is the element of his work I find most thrilling.
Which exhibition that you have visited made the greatest impact on you and why?
Francis Bacon (Tate Britain 11 September 2008 to 4 January 2009)
I always credit Francis Bacon as the artist who played the biggest role in my career choice. It was as a teenager growing up in a small isolated Free State town that I discovered a book on Bacon at the local library. It was love at first sight. Within months from taking that book home, I had decided that an artist I shall be. Bacon became larger than life in my world and his influence still echoes in my work everytime a bright cadmium orange ends up somewhere on a canvas. This exhibition affirmed everything I knew and loved about Bacon, but also elevated him to godlike genius in my mind. To this day I’m spellbound!
Where do you get your inspiration for your work?
Saying that I find inspiration everywhere is a bit contrived, but this really is the case. I’m an obsessive observer and images constantly jump out at me and slap me in the face. Specifically people, faces and colours. I’m that weirdo that will rush up to you in the street asking if I can draw or paint you – so be kind! I always have a camera on hand and it’s used more for documentation than selfies. Even watching TV with me is tedious as I will often pause the broadcast to take screen captures.
Do you have any rituals or habits involving your art-making that you can tell us about?
I’ve learned over the years what it takes to trigger myself and open up what I call “the zone” This in short requires of me to take complete control of my environment. The right mood, music, smells and light. So early mornings in the studio consist of coffee, incense burning, adjustment of studio lights, mixing colours and general prepping but once the headphones go on it’s just me and the canvas for the next 8 to 15 hours.
What do you like most about being an artist?
I think all artists are incredibly selfish people – we create in isolation, have conversations with different mediums and different genres through a process of research and practice. But most people outside our inner circles rarely get to witness or get involved in this creative conversation. The true beauty of being artist is when your work goes out into the world and starts conversations with people that you, the artist, will probably never meet.
How do you handle bad days when you experience artist's block?
I keep working – inspiration and solutions normally reveal themselves while you’re actively working. Nothing is achieved by walking away from a canvas.
What is your greatest achievement as an artist to date?
I don’t chase awards and recognition, so my sense of achievement tends to be rooted in seeing how I’m growing as an artist. In coming up with new ways to paint and create which is challenging to me.
Do you feel that you want to make a difference to the world or in people's lives? If yes, how?
This is something I often confront myself with. It depends on what people take from my work which is my only real tool in affecting change in the world or touching people’s lives. One must never underestimate the power of art to affect opinions, but at this point my work is more a reflection on the world than a call to change. My aim is to rather hold up a “mirror” to society as opposed to dictating to it what it should be or what it’s doing wrong.
What are your plans for the coming year?
I’m very excited about the upcoming year with several group exhibitions in the pipeline and a possibly two solo exhibitions towards the end of 2016. I have a series of portraits planned, but also a series of figure studies. Generally just expanding my subject matter through lots of experimentation and making the most of this incredible journey..