Artists We Love: Marsi van de Heuvel

INTERVIEWED BY Malibongwe Tyilo

After a few group shows in Cape Town and Joburg, and a recent show at the Rochester Museum of Fine Arts in the US, Cape Town-based artist Marsi van de Heuvel has opened her solo show at the strikingly beautiful SMITH Studio gallery, which we featured here.

The artworks that make up the bulk of the exhibition are drawn using countless minute fineliner pen marks. Considering that the largest among them is 1.5m x 2m, this is no small feat. Add to that the detail and beauty, and we were completely mesmerised. We decided to sit down with her to get some insight into Entanglement.

How long do these artworks take you?

The larger ones take me about two months, and that’s working 15 hours a day sometimes, doing nothing else, just waking up and drawing until it’s time to sleep. My work is a demonstration of dedication and a practice of discipline and patience.

Why fineliner?

I like the juxtaposition: these big ideas and big imagery achieved by making small marks. The process is slow and meditative, but also very monotonous and painstaking. It also feels compulsive; there’s the idea of what I want to do and once I start I have to see it through. I don’t particularly enjoy drawing these little lines. My hand hurts and it can get boring, but I need to see it done, so yes, maybe it’s slightly obsessive.

What is ‘Entanglement’?

I find that these days we get so fixated on the idea of the self and things that define us, especially with social media: profile updates, what car you drive and where you come from. I feel like that melted away a little bit through this process. Entanglement has a lot to do with a sort of empathy and a study of interconnected consciousness.

The water as a subject for instance: we all consume water, it’s expansive, it connects us. I think of it as a body of memory, because we’ve all interacted with it. There’s something that somehow connects everyone and that’s what entanglement is about.

You’ve also got a range of oil paintings.

Yes, the volcanoes. In a way they represent the idea of the self and letting go of fixations, more than the idea of empathy. However, with most of my work I just want people to feel something, and that’s more important than the words. I also just want a bit of a sanctuary.

Entanglement runs from 24 June until 18 July 2015 at the SMITH Studio gallery in Cape Town. For more information, visit