The title of my Karoo series paintings, Karoo-kado’tjies, means small gifts from the Karoo. ‘Kado’ is derived from the French word ‘cadeaux’, which means present. These ‘kado’tjies or small gifts, form part of the objects from my past with which I like to surround myself, connecting me to blissful childhood memories. Often rusted and weathered, these objects are tangible representations of the transience to which all forms of life and objects on earth, whether man-made or created by God, are subject to.
All works which forms part of the ‘Karoo-kado’tjies’ series have their origin somewhere between Merweville and Sutherland. It is only in the Karoo that I can become myself again. The Karoo is full of ‘kado’tjies. The dry, outstretched plains unfold to expose their ‘kado’tjies’ to you in a silent manner, whether hidden away in a beautiful sunset that vanishes over Windheuwel’s koppies, or a ‘koesnaatjie’ that can feed your soul with its succulent-beauty. Unexpectedly you may chance upon an eroded enamel bowl or a derelict farmstead, its weathered wood revealing remnants of red or green paint, the very presence of these artifacts and structural remains, making the absence of the lives, which were lived here, very strongly felt.
The Voortrekker bonnet is a continuation of the theme of the Voortrekker outfit I made for my Barbie doll as a little girl. This was after my mother stitched together such an outfit. The combination of old and new lends unique meaning to the Karoo series, and allows the work to fit comfortably within a contemporary art context. I enjoy the strong visual narrative aspect of these paintings.
N.Dip Fine Art (Cape Peninsula University Of Technology)
Contemporary visual artist Lizelle Kruger works in a variety of media from a studio in Cape Town. Known for her detailed paintings depicting a nude woman with white bonnet - a trademark of the artist’s oeuvre - the artist takes her inspiration from the South African people and landscapes, which give her pieces a distinctly local aesthetic.
Her latest body of work however, makes a dramatic departure. Kruger uses a subdued colour palette in her loosely painted, impressionistic charcoal and oil “drawings” in which she delves into the Mother City’s past. Forceful removals and the ‘Sugar Girls’ of District Six are juxtaposed with lively street scenes of Cape Town from the 1920s to 1960s.
Having graduated with a Diploma in Fine Art Kruger subsequently joined the army, working in the production department of the SADF. A Volkskas and Brett Kebble Art Award finalist, she has exhibited both nationally and internationally, and her murals and sculptures for the SADF can still be seen at regimental headquarters around South Africa. Her work is collected worldwide.
Selected Exhibitions and Awards
• Finalist for the Volkskas Atelier Competition in 1989 & 1991
• Finalist for the Brett Kebble Art Awards 2003
• Designed and sculptured a 7m x 2.3m ceramic mural for the foyer to the Armscor building - entrance of the SA National Defence Force
• Three of the artist’s pastel drawings were presented to Dr Franklin Sonn, a former South African Ambassador to the USA
• The artist’s works can be found in private collections in the UK, Germany, Austria, Australia, USA, Singapore, Ireland and the United Arab Emirates
1993 SANDF Group Exhibition - Pretoria
1994 One man Exhibition - Riversdale
1996 Group Exhibition - The Castle, Cape Town
2003 One man Exhibition - The Cape Gallery, Cape Town
2006 Group Exhibition - Oisin Gallery, Dublin, Ireland
2007 Group Exhibition – The Cape Gallery, Cape Town
Group Summer Exhibition – Oisin, Dublin, Ireland
2008 Group Exhibition – Women in Art – Mondo Arte Gallery, UAE, Dubai
Group Exhibition – Salon 91 Contemporary Art Collection, Cape Town
2011 One-man Exhibition Salon 91 Contemporary Art Collection, Cape Town
2011 One-man Exhibition - The Castle, Cape Town
Which new trends or South African artists do you find inspiring at the moment?
Michael Pettit – I love his work, I have admired his work since I was a young artist in my 20s. He’s very dedicated.
Which South African deceased artist do you most admire and why?
Irma Stern and Maggie Loubser. Their use of colour and very bold expressionistic style appeals to me.
Which exhibition that you have visited made the greatest impact on you and why?
I’ve enjoyed seeing the exhibitions curated by the Oisen Gallery in Dublin - I took part in their summer and xmas exhibitions a couple of years ago. The curator always sources the most beautiful realism – such inspiring, good work.
Where do you get your inspiration for your work?
My latest series, Karoo work, comes from the area around Sutherland Tanqua-Karoo and Merweville in the Koup – inspiration comes from my roots as a child in the Karoo
Do you have any rituals or habits involving your art-making that you can tell us about?
Before I start painting I have a good breakfast, then I will light up 6 – 7 different incense sticks. I feel as though I’m dedicating my day to God when I start to paint. I also listen to Indian or Arabic music whilst I’m working.
What do you like most about being an artist?
I feel very blessed by God because it has made my life so exciting – circumstances, projects. I have the most interesting life, and have met the most interesting people, and travelled to amazing countries – all because of my art and God’s grace.
How do you handle bad days when you experience artist's block?
I believe that artist’s block is a fable and deny that it exists, and that to be an artist it’s about discipline. And that you should just sit down and work through the difficult days – lack of inspiration is an excuse not to work.
What is your greatest achievement as an artist to date?
My exhibition in 2011 – I’ve had them before – but this exhibition was about my body of work, my ideas that had come out of my past and soul. I’d created my own theme and identiy, whereas before I would have drawn my ideas from foreign influences, people I met, or local themes. I am very proud to have my own identity as an artist as it has taken me so many years to establish this as I have grown as an artist
Do you feel that you want to make a difference to the world or in people's lives? If yes, how?
Absolutely. One thing I really don’t want to do is create morbid art – art should uplift people, make their lives beautiful. I want to create beauty that people can enjoy – there is beauty in ordinary everyday things such as derelict farm houses, rusted plates – and I want to show that beauty to the world.
What are your plans for the coming year?
I’m working towards my next exhibition but I have decided to enjoy life and live life more, not just sit and paint all the time. Spend more time with my family and go on trips to new places both at home and abroad.