Transforming real life moments in Johannesburg into a visual language of introspection

Art & Design | By Audrey Anderson, Fine Artist | 09 May 2015

Everyday moments, like getting dressed, going to work, making coffee or waiting for a lift, are seemingly forgettable. For most of us, they have simply become automated must-dos. Yet, they make up most of life and shapes patterns, identities, personalities and relationships. My work focuses on turning these ‘slice of life’ moments into narratives by complicating them in an illustrated or graphic novel-inspired way. In doing so, I emphasise the simplicity of these acts or events, how they represent a shared experience and relate to the South
Afrikan context.

Simple lines, great impact
The act of drawing, and the flexibility it provides, support my process. With a visual interest in and inspiration from illustrations and comic book art, I have seen how simple lines can depict complex ideas and emotions with great impact. Drawn lines are interesting communication tools. I don’t think I will ever stop investigating this medium or its narrative potential. My work specifically explores interpersonal and emotional relationships through different drawing mediums and techniques. In this way, the artworks subvert the narratives and overemphasize the banality of day-to-day life.

Inspiration and an approach
Banal, simple moments not only inspire my work, but also form part of my approach. As unexpected moments and accidents can reveal themselves as artworks during the creative process, I often use spills as a starting point. This relates to the fact that in life, accidents do happen (and often in the most banal of ways), causing an emotional reaction. Small moments can define big moments, like an emotional change that may affect the whole day. I sometimes use consumables (wine and coffee) on paper to create these ‘accidents’, using a technique requiring a balance between the mediums, nature and my control. In doing so, the coffee and wine works reflect the balance between what you can control in life and what you can’t.

Creative collaborations
Wine and coffee on paper encourage communication, speaking to whoever stops to look, whether educated about art or not. As a personal manifesto, I want art to be accessible to everyone regardless of their art knowledge. It is the driving force behind my creative process and plays an important role in the concepts behind the works and even where I exhibit.
I may collaborate with waiters, kitchen staff, cashiers or shop owners, people outside of the art industry to involve them in the creative art-making process. The concept in essence: a person’s slice of life + an artist’s interpretation = artwork. It’s about making others an intricate part of the process instead of merely the subjects.

The walk-in graphic novel
I also try to spark the viewer’s imagination by creating works that offer open stories. Although I can’t control their perception, the works are visual puzzle pieces which they will weave together with their own imagination and based on their own experiences. I describe my exhibition space as a ‘walk-in-graphic-novel’. It is about creating a body of work that becomes an ‘interactive imagination story-telling’ or ‘walk-in story-triggering’ space.

My works are purposely created to provide visual clues so that the spirit of imagination and wonder can continue in each viewer’s mind. More than copied scenes of the everyday world around us, I use different techniques aimed at inspiring viewers not to just accept what they see, but rather to linger, consider, wonder and get curious about the work.

In summary
I am always investigating new drawing and visual communication techniques. I consciously monitor what is happening in every work without letting full control over the medium get in the way. This translates as a philosophy in my art, automating though life is not much of a life without a good balance of control, accidents, elaboration and
unexpected moments.

Edited by: Netanja van der Westhuizen

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