INTERVIEWED BY Lindi Brownell Meiring IMAGES courtesy of Salon 91
Cape Town-based artist Kirsten Beets combines her love of the Mother City with her passion for nature in her latest series of works for Everyday Eden. We chatted to her to find out what inspired this beautiful collection.
How has Cape Town inspired your work for Everyday Eden?
I’ve lived in Cape Town my whole life so I am sometimes guilty of taking it for granted, but after the terrible fires that happened earlier this year I felt incredibly precious about my city and I wanted to reflect some of its beautiful spaces. I’m always looking for the green wherever I go, so it was natural to focus on the in-between and less well-known green spaces that still hold a lot of beauty.
Which piece did you most enjoy creating for this exhibition, and why?
It has been interesting to see how foliage and greenery have been a way that I can experiment with abstraction. I still enjoy rendering things perfectly and in tiny detail but it was a lot of fun for me to be able to play with the paint in a more abstract way and still have structured elements within the painting that contained the abstract.
For example, I made a painting of an interior of a greenhouse called Eden (see gallery above). The plant elements are painted with expressive brush strokes. I wanted to convey a sense of the vibrant, growing, energetic nature that would contrast with the structured interior elements of the greenhouse. Throughout the exhibition there is a push/pull dynamic between tight detail and free brush strokes, culminating in a piece called Bloom (see gallery above), which is a circle of flowers painted with loose brushstrokes and layered paint to convey a joyful sense of lush with verdant foliage.
What do you love most about painting?
I love the ability to create scenarios that don’t necessarily exist in real life – I can let my imagination roam free. I also love that it’s a challenge and you are constantly learning and becoming better. The work hours are good too, as I can paint whenever I want to, which is perfect because I am a night owl and wholly unsuited to 9 – 5. Ultimately, I love it because it makes me happy and I am immeasurably grateful to everyone who has supported my art and allowed me to do what I love for a living.
This piece (below) really caught our eye, as it’s quite different to the rest of the collection. Can you please tell us a bit more about this work?
This work is very dear to my heart. It is the nighttime view from my window during my residency in Venice a couple of years ago. I have tried to paint it many times and I feel like this one was finally a success. I found the electric lights in the shop front and the reflections in the paving so beautiful, yet out of place in the ancient city. Nighttime was the only moment the hubbub of tourists marching through our square stopped. Once the sun went down and the shops closed up, a beautiful, overlooked, secret Venice was revealed.
What are your plans for the rest of the year?
I am going overseas for a bit of a holiday and then back to work with a couple of group shows, namely Manifesto in November in Joburg and the Salon 91 group show in December.