Artists of KZN
I am an artist living in Kwazulu-Natal, South Africa. I have a Master's Degree in Fine Art from the Durban University of Technology. My primary area of expertise is oil painting. You can read my general artist statement below, and some of the works displayed on this site have accompanying artist statements.
In my work, I touch on a variety of themes, including the body, mortality, death, loss, nostalgia, and containment.
Interest in death is often considered morbid. However, my interest is more in the attitudes to death prevalent in our modern society—the very attitudes that have turned death into something morbid. Death is something we all have to come to terms with eventually, but it seems we are no longer willing to accept death as a natural part of life, and we live in denial of our own mortality.
Closely linked to the theme of death is that of the body: the decay of the body as we become subject to disease, decrepitude, and death; the scientific and medical view of the body as a dehumanized subject, a specimen; and the religious view of the body as a temporary residence for the soul.
Related to these themes are those of loss and nostalgia. Nostalgia is born of loss; remembrance of places, objects, and experiences lost in the past can unexpectedly be triggered by the smallest sight, sound, or smell. In some of my works, I paint simple, mundane objects, which will spark off different associations for different viewers, and trigger their own memories of the past. In this way, I hope to engage the viewer on a more personal level.
I often use subject matter that denotes containment: jars, bottles, plastic packets, usually containing incongruous objects. A theme that often appears in my work is the idea of collecting, preserving, and presenting objects in a discordant manner. There seems to be an attempt to emulate scientific processes, but it is done in a disordered, confused way, with arbitrary specimens being collected, and then being presented in ways unsuitable to their natures. This is my way of ridiculing a species that has become so enamoured with its own thinking that it thinks that by systematically analyzing, classifying, and cataloguing the world around it, it can unlock the secrets of the universe.
I usually depict my subject matter as being enclosed within the picture plane in recessed spaces, or attached to the surface in a trompe l’oeil effect. This suggests that the painting is not merely a window or a snapshot of something that exists elsewhere, but that the subject depicted is actually situated on the wall in front of the viewer. This heightens the immediacy and intimacy of the painting, stripping away the safety barrier that exists with paintings of scenes that are clearly removed by time and space. In certain works, the subject seems constricted within the confines of the painted spaces, creating a feeling of claustrophobic containment.
Throughout my work, I try to engage the viewer on a level that is more emotional than intellectual. I avoid any obvious statement of a particular theme in my work, and I do not try to control the meanings that viewers ascribe to my works, but rather allow them room for personal interpretations.
To find out more about Peter Rippon, click here.