Artists We Love: Kylie Wentzel

INTERVIEWED BY Michaela Stehr IMAGES courtesy of @k.vventzel on Instagram

VISI chats to local artist Kylie Wentzel about her Angolan residency, plans for the future and her transition into colour use.

How did you get involved in art?

It was always just a part of life. My mom’s an artist and as children we were encouraged to busy ourselves with paint and paper… if we weren’t off trying to see how far into the neighbours’ house we could sneak without being caught.

What mediums do you use?

These days I mostly paint with acrylics on canvas.

I initially became really curious about lino when I discovered the works of some of the greats, like John Muafangejo and Azaria Mbatha, who were making powerful work at the Rorke’s Drift Art and Craft Centre in KZN throughout the 60s and so on. 

Lino has been a really strong and prolific method of communicating ideas and personal experiences in the history of South African art. I enjoy the contrast between this legacy and the fact that it can also be quite a humble art-making practice, with accessible and reusable materials, that it is often introduced to kids at school.

What is the process behind your pieces?

I’m not too bothered about sketches or prep work. As soon as something inspires me enough to make a new work, I need to get stuck into a canvas straight away. My work relies heavily on errors so it’s important that little is planned out beforehand. 

Where do you draw inspiration?

Passing faces, strangers’ stories, animals with a tale, love notes on public walls written with permanent marker, urban marks, undesirable objects – these are a few of the many things that stand out to me when I turn to the natural and constructed environments around me for inspiration. 

Colour or black and white?

For a long time I couldn’t touch colour. From the clothes I wore, to the photographs I took, to the other work I’d make – everything was totally void of colour. I think black and white will always feature somehow because it’s such a seductive combo, but my years of angsty expression are over and colour brings me much joy now.

Do you have a favourite piece and why?

I think the first proper painting I made when I transitioned from lino to painting is my favourite because of how pleasurable it was to see that influence morph into a loose, large-scale acrylic work. The painting is titled A LOVELY SETTING and it was made for a group show at the KZNSA Gallery in Durban. 


Who do you admire locally in the art world?

I’m often singing fellow KZN artist Cameron Platter‘s praises because I think he’s an artistic genius. Another KZN artist who is killing it is Sphephelo Mnguni, his recent paintings are on another level. Also really enjoying JP Meyer‘s paintings, a lot!

Plans for the future?

Blessed to have an artist’s residency in Angola that I need to plan, and an upcoming solo show at Kalashnikovv Gallery in Joburg throughout the month of May. I’m also halfway through my pregnancy, which is going to make juggling everything ahead very interesting, but I have an incredibly hands-on and supportive partner and a beautiful community around me.

See more of Kylie’s work on Instagram, here.