THEODOR VAN DER MERWE

Date:03 September, 2021

My abstract paintings are a way for me to both process and articulate my experience of living in a South African landscape. I work in layers, much like a landscape: instead of layers of rock, sand and vegetation I work in layers of lines and gestures. I like the tension between matt and shiny, thick and thinly applied paint: all inhabiting the same picture. I often compare my process to a cross section of a landscape: one where layers and layers of sediment have accumulated over years and result in a landscape which we could potentially inhabit. The only difference is, that in my work you are looking at the cross section of the landscape from above as if you are looking through a watery surface downwards.

In the process of layering I become aware of that which we see and that which we don’t. This is a process that I play with during the painting of the artwork. I make conscious choices about what I leave visible and what I cover in the process of painting. The word ‘palimpsest’ comes to mind here. And I do think my work does function as a palimpsest of sorts, but a palimpsest made visible and not hidden from the world (as I find they often are).

Colour is also a crucial facet to my abstract painting process. I believe that my usage of colour communicates the endless possibilities and combinations that landscapes could have as I often use a different palette with a similar lines and shapes. Colour (or rather how I use it in my work) alludes to how we can transform our world and how we experience it with our perceptions of it. I like to think that I am creating new environments and experiences that sing with the vibrancy and dynamism of my immediate context. I see my artwork as an open invitation to the viewer to immerse themselves in a plethora of lines and shapes and emerge with a song in your head and a jump in your step.