INTERVIEWED BY Michaela Stehr
South African artist Weyers du Toit chats to VISI about his latest exhibition titled ‘A Secret Garden’ at Chandler House, his artistic inspiration, and everything in-between.
Tell us a bit about yourself?
I’m like a Bruce Springsteen of painting; Not the Magazine centrefold one, but the daily grind one. I turn up at the easel every day. I walk my dog twice a day in a forest nearby, without fail. I drink too much coffee, but it helps me work. I surf when the conditions are decent, which isn’t often over here. I like to listen to music and sing while I paint. The last few months it’s been Bob Dylan and The Boss almost exclusively. I can’t take a good selfie, but I don’t have a bad singing voice.
What inspires your works?
What I see inspires me. I drive down a road until I see something that jumps out at me, daring me to attempt a likeness. I set up a still life of a flower that intrigues me and add a contrasting or complementary texture. It‘s a very simple story. I work from life. It is seldom easy. I just start painting and hang on for the ride.
What is the concept behind your new exhibition?
To answer this I would like to share my Artist Statement for the exhibition:
‘This year has been more isolated for many of us due to the restrictions and cautions of the COVID-19 Pandemic, but for numerous artists, it has been much of the same. I have spent months alone in a room, staring at a little still life of flowers and perhaps a shell. This exhibition is about those private moments that accumulate in a lifetime of solitary pursuit. It is a gift to me and to the viewer and, permission for them to also quietly come into a secret garden of their own.’
What is the process behind creating one of your works?
A lot of play is involved. It can start with a question in my head like: ‘How can I paint a white object with a highlight that is so much lighter?’ Then I will set out exploring possible solutions in the same way a hiker tries to find his way down a mountain without roads. In many ways, for me, painting a still life is indeed like a simple journey on foot; one needs only a starting point and a general direction. Curiosity will get you moving and love for what paint can do will make the journey exhilarating. I build on each experience so that the next painting is often something I would’ve never dreamed up on my own and without the help of the previous ones.
Do you stick to one particular medium?
For the most part yes, Oils.
Where do you see your work headed in the future?
As previously stated, executing my ideas cause others to spring up, and so I cannot rightly predict where my work will head in the future. Working from life will probably remain a constant for me because I find it so energizing. I have rusty, but true love for other genres too… landscapes, nudes, portraits. But for now, I will stick to still life painting for sure. I love it and I think it loves me.
Who are some local artists that you admire?
There is too much talent in South Africa for a shortlist, but if I have to narrow it down on pain of death I would say Simon Stone, Anton Karstel, Michael Taylor and Nigel Mullins.
How would you describe your style?
Representational and something else…
As in the tradition of the masters, I put a lot of stock in drawing as a basis for painting. I think this causes me to not be overly tight in regards to form; David Hockney talks of ‘sighted’ work. Even so, I strive to be true to life and to steer clear of exaggeration.
How can people get hold of your art?
Chandler House has just launched a fresh new exhibition of mine titled ‘A Secret Garden’. I hope this will be the first of many collaborations with them. People can find me on Instagram to stay abreast of more such exhibitions.
Looking for more art? Take a look at Xee Summers digital paintings.