Q&A with Artist Andrew Putter

INTERVIEWED BY Alastair Whitton

Local artist Andrew Putter’s pop-up exhibition Flowers of the Cape Peninsula, Vol. 1 taking place at the Barnard Gallery on 2 December 2023 is inspired by his love for indigenous plants.

Inspired by his long-term interest in indigenous plants, each of Andrew Putter’s twelve new artworks – collectively titled Flowers of the Cape Peninsula, Vol. 1 – focuses on a different plant indigenous to the Cape Peninsula, where he has lived and worked his entire life. Andrew’s new body of art brings to mind 17th century Dutch flower paintings, Henri Matisse’s paper cut-outs, Andy Warhol screen prints and David Hockney’s iPad drawings. Over the five years of preparing to make these new works, Andrew returned again and again to these influences. Curator Alastair Whitton sat down with Andrew to find out more about his latest work.

Andrew Putter

How important is a sense of place in your work as an artist?

I grew up in Pinelands,  a rather dreary suburb of Cape Town, in the 70s and  80s. Henry Symonds – the influential artist and teacher – came to talk to the creative kids at our high school one day. He challenged our naive eurocentrism and encouraged us to take an interest in our local world instead. What a brilliant idea! I decided there and then to live my whole life in the suburbs of Cape Town, a decision that has inspired me creatively ever since.

Your new art references both the hyper-local and also the faraway. Can you say more?

On the local front, my latest pictures look for new ways of representing flowers that are hyper-indigenous to within walking distance of where I’ve lived my whole life. From faraway, the artist David Hockney has always been a big influence for me. When I was looking for a new medium to work with a few years ago, David Hockney’s ravishing iPad prints made quite an impression. These new flower pictures of mine were all made on an iPad, thanks to Mr Hockney.

Your latest art exhibition is a pop-up event. Why is that?

Architect Andre Vorster and I originated the first MCQP party in 1994, which got me interested in how an event can also be an artwork. Those arty MCQP parties were partly inspired by the question: what would happen if an art exhibition only lasted as long as the opening night? The pop-up form of my latest art exhibition is a return to this kind of concentrated, you-snooze-you-lose celebration.

Flowers of the Cape Peninsula, Vol. 1  will be on display at the Barnard Gallery from 3-6pm on 2 December 2023 .

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