WORDS Celeste Jacobs
Interrupted, by Claudia Gurwitz, which consists of 15 oil on canvas works of art, will be on display from 2 June – 8 July at The AVA Gallery in Cape Town. This slightly unhinged portrayal of lush foliage is symbolic of the order that resides in nature, despite the man-made chaos around us.
We’d like to know more about your process and how it relates to your own lockdown experience?
My own personal experience of this pandemic crisis, as was the case for most people, was wrought with new and unexpected challenges. Thrown into lockdown, I had to juggle work, home-schooling and house-keeping. As a single mother with two busy little boys, this was not what I had signed up for. It felt overwhelming. My creativity was left hanging from a thread, yet I persisted with smaller pieces as my time was limited. I started out painting on small blocks of wood, as canvases were unavailable. I had to make do with a very limited selection of scrap images, as the source printouts of my photographs were locked up at my studio. Cutting and reconstructing these scraps became surprisingly cathartic.
How has the COVID-19 pandemic impacted you?
Through my painting I have always experienced the intrinsic unity that pervades nature. This gives me a sense that we live in a beautiful and orderly world.
With COVID-19, I no longer experienced a complete sense of calm and clarity engaging with nature and its forms. While being outdoors still provided me with some sense of grounding, I deeply felt the unease that was shaping our reality and environment. My work shifted to reflect this; I created revised hyper-real landscapes which are slightly unhinged.
Can you tell us about the significance of the title, Interrupted?
As organic beings in this world, we are intrinsically part of our natural world. While humanity feels off centre during this time, we are having to find new ways of navigating this altered reality, of engaging with each other and with our environment. While we feel a disconnect, our environment, in turn, feels out of sync. My Interrupted series alludes to a subtly distorted perspective of natural form, reflective of a disturbed environment.
How does this body relate or depart from your previous work?
Attention to detail has always been vital to me. I observe and capture the detail of structure and shapes in nature – the parts that make the whole. Through a micro-setting, I capture a magnified perspective of seemingly unremarkable plant matter. It is in this detail that my painting exposes the sacred geometry of each form and explores the relationships between these structures; how they interconnect with one another.
In this body of work, I have explored disrupted imagery: deconstructing, cropping and isolating my subject matter. I further reassemble and realign this imagery in fragments. These subtly uncomfortable combinations of reconstructed plant matter disjoin these vital structures, redefining my plant imagery.
What feeling does this body of work evoke in you?
Somewhat disturbed – these interrupted landscapes reflect our disharmonious reality. In their disconnect, however, I find they offer a surprising beauty. Perhaps this reflects the reshaping of our new normal. This reinforces how, as human beings, we are adaptable; that there are positives to be found in these strange times. It evokes a feeling of hope.