Cape Town High, Cape Town
Sometimes I Forget You Exist (curated by Trasi Henen) Blank Projects,Cape Town
Oomblik (Moment) (curated by Theo Kleynhans) HB Thom Theater,Stellenbosch
Bare at Am I Collective Project Space, Cape Town
Swallow My Pride (curated by William Martin, Margaret Stone,Lizza Littleworth and Dale Washansky)
Ways of Seeing (curated by Julie Donald and William Martin) Ore Gallery,Observatory, Cape Town
Which new trends or South African artists do you find inspiring at the moment?
There are a lot of young artists that I admire: the melancholy romance in the paintings of Ian Grose. Michael Taylor’s acidic wit and playfulness. I am always interested in sound, so James Webb’s work I find beautiful. Pierre Fouche’s meticulous craft, the pristine intensity of what he does is a great inspiration to me.
Which South African deceased artist do you most admire and why?
I would have to say Neil Goedhals. I have only seen a handful of his works and know very little about him, but I’ve read an article about him recently and it made me think of Don deLillo’s Mr. Tuttle:
“Maybe this man experiences another kind of reality where he is here and there, before and after, and he moves from one to the other shatteringly, in a state of collapse, minus and identity…”
His work offers no clarity, no apology and I appreciate his brutal economy. I am always fascinated by destructive characters. In the words of Walter Benjamin: “The destructive character sees nothing permanent, and for this very reason he sees ways everywhere.”
And he was also a musician. So the tension of division is interesting, artist, musician and how these two strained against each other and fed off each other. He must have been an extremely passionate man, loaded with ideas.
Which exhibition that you have visited made the greatest impact on you and why?
I would have to say Jennifer Lovemore Read’s exhibition – Remnants, Relics and Reasons. It was breathtaking - everything accounted for, labeled, documented – a part of her life, sampled and displayed. I felt deeply moved by this exhibition; by what it means to be alive, to be an ordinary person with struggles and triumphs and great joys and devastating sorrows… Patti Smith comes to mind: “…this maze of being skin…”
Where do you get your inspiration for your work?
What inspired my fascination with text-based art was an information sheet in a box of anti-depressant tablets. I thought that it was the most beautiful thing in the world; how a sheet of paper could be so thin and fragile yet contain so much information and be folded up to fit neatly into a pillbox. The tiny script, the orderliness of it, the weightlessness. And I knew I had to make works that followed that template: loading a blank flat surface with as much information as possible.
Do you have any rituals or habits involving your art-making that you can tell us about?
One ritual that I always follow is to first compile a list of songs that have a particular flavour that suits the mood I am in. For example, the project that I am working on now has a certain feeling, quite expansive, cinematic, wholly invested in the story-telling tradition. So I play a lot moody electronic pieces and early church music - playing the two off against each other in the hope of discovering a new entry point into the story. I always keep a scrapbook in which I collect pictures and information so I can refer back to it and add to it during the process. I document anything that will help amplify the creative impulse.
Once I understand the mood, I use books and film to support it, inform it, so that when I start writing, I write from this incubator where music, visual aspects and text feed off each other.
What do you like most about being an artist?
I am not sure that I always like being an artist. There is a lot of tension in me when I hear the word “artist”. But what I do appreciate about creativity is that it affords me the ultimate luxury: temporary, painless self annihilation. The creative impulse is a friend unlike any other, I would be lost without it.
How do you handle bad days when you experience artist's block?
I have learned that blockage only occurs when I overthink a work. When that happens its on me to find ways of disarming the strict editor that is in me. I pack away everything, clear my desk, watch an epic disaster movie, eat candy floss, go for long walks, doodle. Doing chores also help!
What is your greatest achievement as an artist to date?
That I have always trusted and stuck with the creative impulse.
Do you feel that you want to make a difference to the world or in people's lives? If yes, how?
That is a very hard question. I am a great believer in that I can make a difference to the world if I first fix myself. And for that I will need several lifetimes! We just all need to lighten up and learn to laugh at ourselves.
What are your plans for the coming year?
I have been working on an epic calligraphy project (Contra Natura) for the past year and a half and my aim is to complete this work by the end of this year.