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Artist explores nature post-pandemic

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Cape Town artist Claudia Gurwitz was motivated by the unprecedented hard lockdown in South Africa two years ago to take a “deep dive” into exploring nature in all its detail. It was then that she recognised that so much of what we took for granted, including our access to the outdoors, had been taken away from us. This defining moment inspired her latest project.

“It was born during South Africa’s lockdown and explores plant imagery. The series stems from the feeling of collective disharmony during the COVID-19 pandemic,” she says ahead of a solo exhibition in Johannesburg. “We’re intrinsically part of our natural world. When humanity feels unease, our environment, in turn, feels off-balance. This series, called Adaptation, alludes to a subtly distorted perspective of natural forms, reflective of an environment out of sync.”

Gurwitz is an artist, mother, and yoga teacher. Her work is featured in collections such as Old Mutual, Spier Estate, the University of Cape Town, Qasar al Sarab Hotel in Abu Dhabi, and Nando’s in the United Kingdom.

“As a child, I was naturally drawn to art; creativity was my outlet. I always knew I would be an artist,” she recalls. In a world full of visual content demanding our attention, from Instagram to Netflix, she still feels that art has an important role to play.

“Art gives us the opportunity to see the world differently,” she says. “It offers viewers the opportunity to pause and reflect. It inspires us to think out the box.”

This is exactly how she approached this latest series. “Photographs of random plants provide the source material for my painting. Through a process of deconstructing, cropping, and isolating my subject matter, I reassemble and realign this imagery in fragments,” she says. “These subtly uncomfortable combinations of reconstructed plant matter disjoin these vital structures, redefining my plant imagery. In this way, I create a revised hyper-real landscape which is slightly unhinged; my ‘interrupted’ landscapes.”

The paintings are large, but at the same time, they focus on the microscopic details of nature. “The overwhelming effect of COVID-19 on our psyches and lives warranted a larger experience and expression of my work,” she says. “These larger canvases, depicting awe-inspiring structures, surround the viewer. On this scale, working in oils on canvas, I’m further able to expose the texture, movement, and intricate detail of form.

“Attention to detail has always been vital to me,” she says. “I have always observed the detail of structure and shapes in nature; the parts that make the whole. Through a micro-setting, I capture a magnified perspective of seemingly unremarkable plant matter, which I term ‘micro-landscapes’.

“It’s in this detail that my painting exposes the sacred geometry of each form and explores the relationships between these structures. My work depicts the intrinsic unity that pervades nature – this gives the viewer a sense that even in our current reality, we live in a beautiful and orderly world.”

This will be Gurwitz’ fourth solo exhibition, and the first time she has exhibited in Johannesburg.

  • “Adaptation”, a solo exhibition of paintings by Claudia Gurwitz, will be on display at Lizamore & Associates, 3 Hetty Avenue, Fairland, Johannesburg, from 3 April to 3 May 2022.

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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Anne-Ghrett

    Mar 31, 2022 at 2:42 pm

    Fantastic! How can I get into contact with the artist, please? I am the owner of the Breytenbach Gallery in Wellington.

    Kind regards,
    Anne-Ghrett

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