Interview with the Association of Arts

by | May 31, 2020

Q: How do you describe yourself, and how do you think others describe you?

A: I would describe myself as a kind hearted, caring, slightly extroverted creator of things. I’m passionate over the arts, always experimenting with different methods and techniques and striving to make good art. I think other people see me as caring, thoughtful, easy to get along with and maybe a bit crazy.

Q: When did you realize you want to become an artist?

A: I’ve known since early childhood. I always got myself in to trouble for doing graffiti on my walls, painting our furniture different colors and just making a colorful mess wherever I went. I loved building giant figures on the beach and decorating them with shells and kelp. When I was about eight, I discovered sugar work, always boiling and pulling sugar into fantastic shapes and animals which became treats for my friends at school. In 1991 the lifelong dream became a reality when I finally went off to study fine arts.

Q: Tell us about your artistic journey and your preferred medium.

A: It all began when I finished my military service and got my first real job, working at Pretoria Art Display. I worked there for the rest of the year and then embarked on my studies. On completion of my studies I opened a design and production studio “Global Studios”. This involved a lot of extremely hard work e.g. Designing, sculpting, carving, grinding, welding, and painting, at last I was a professional maker of beautiful things. Materials included fiber glass, resin, silicone, polyurethane, steel, copper, wood, glass, and mosaics…… the list goes on and on. Life was good, but I was frustrated, I was tired of just making things the industry wanted and not exploring my creativity, so I quit in 2013 and became a full-time artist.

Charcoal drawings became my thing, I joined COMA and after 3 months I bought a printing press and started to do printmaking. Printmaking led to embossed prints, which led to pure embossing’s where the paper becomes the medium and no color is used, just the stark white of the paper with ghostly images emerging from it. Currently I’m working on charcoal and ink drawings on embossed paper. For the last 7 years I have only worked in black and white, but for my upcoming exhibition I’m combining charcoal with hints of color.

Q: When are you at your most creative and what inspires you?

A: I’m at my most creative when I go through a manic phase. I’m inspired by people and nature and the interaction of humans with nature.

Q: Who or what had the biggest influence on your career as an artist?

A: Definitely my mom, art school and two of the most amazing lecturers, Muffin Stevens and Carl Jeppe. As a young artist I was heavily influenced by Andy Warhol and the black and white images of Robert Mapplethorpe.

Q: Do you like traveling, what’s your favorite destination and does travel influence your work?

A: I enjoy traveling a lot, my husband worked as a diplomat so we got to travel quite a lot over the past 20 years. My favorite cities are London, New York, Amsterdam, Paris and anywhere in Spain, but my all-time favorite must be Bali, the Island of the Gods. My first time there was a huge culture shock and it really opened my eyes, I keep going back. Traveling has a huge influence on my work, every trip is a information overload and brings with it great ideas.

Q: What do you consider the highlight of your career?

A: There has been a lot of highlights over the years and I think every solo is a highlight, but my upcoming exhibition is special, not only is it my 10th solo but it also coincides with my 50th birthday.

Q: Which South African artist do you admire and why?

A: Definitely Dianne Victor, I love the way she incorporates the classic and contemporary in her unique style, her use of black really resonates with me.

Q: You are currently working on an exhibition, tell us more.

A: The exhibition’s called Liquid Black.

Since the beginning of man’s existence, observation has played a crucial role in our survival. It was by observation that humans were able to track the path of the sun to determine the change of seasons thus forming the basis of agriculture.

We not only observed weather patterns, we also observed the creatures we shared our habitats with. Through observing the creatures around us we attributed certain human like characteristics to them whilst at other times lending them “god-like” status. They became part of our folklore and mythology.

The crow is widespread and found on most continents, in some cultures they are viewed as sinister characters, a bad omen. For the most part though, the mythology of the crow has them as messengers to the gods.

In modern times and through observational research the crow has been found to be highly intelligent, capable of solving complex problems and puzzles. The most fascinating discovery has been that crows are able to recognize individual humans. So while we have been observing nature and deciding which creatures are good omens and which are bad omens…remember they are observing us too. The crow is able to communicate to other crows if a person he has observed in the past is “good” or “bad”. The question is what are creatures’ perceptions of us? Are we good omens or bad?

In this collection of works, I use Liquid Ivory Black watercolor which changes color when it meets water. Starting as black, to denote the sinister qualities we have unfairly given to the crow, with minimal contact with water, the ink turns blue which brings a sense calm to the works. Yellow represents the god like state of enlightenment. These colors may represent what our mythology and beliefs tell us about the crow, but it could just as easily represent the perceptions that the crow may have of us.

A portion of the works depict the crow in line with the traditional idea of observation, beautiful details and a crispness are visible and focus on aesthetics. In other works, the focus moves away from detailed observation and changes to observing movement and the fluidity of the crows’ movement as well as the fluidity of the medium. This fluidity lends a dreamlike quality to the works.

I have purposefully ignored the traditional artistic “rules” of composition. In these works, I am observing nature and nature seldom stops to pose for the perfect composition. This gives the viewer a sense of being part of the observational process, only able to catch a fleeting glimpse as nature passes by.

Mythology and folklore are often linked to a religious belief or to teach moral lessons. The basis of religion is that there is some all-seeing spirit watching our every act. If we believed that nature and the creatures in it were watching us and taking note, would it change our behavior toward it? Would we treat it with more respect?

Q: What’s your message to South Africans during this difficult time?

A: Be brave and stay safe. Keep doing what you’re doing and live in the moment, Yesterday is gone, tomorrow has not happened so today is all we have. God bless you South Africa.

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Call: +27 83 675 0150
Email: info@louiskok.art

Pretoria, Gauteng
SOUTH AFRICA

 

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6th September 2019 – Salt at Trent Gallery Opening, 6:30pm

7th September 2019 – Floral Rhapsody at The Viewing-room St.
Lorient Art Gallery Opening, 3pm

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Pretoria opening, 7pm.

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