Serving Msunduzi through the Visual Arts
Contemporary Watercolour Landscapes by Kerry Michau
The Schreiner Gallery
12 July to 2 September 2007
Kerry Michau paints abstracted landscapes in watercolour. Kerry is fascinated by the properties of watercolour and attempts to maintain its delicacy an subtlety in small and large paintings.
She frequently uses unconventional formats. Her miniature landscapes are formatted like a film strip, capturing moments of light and changing colour. For larger works she places two landscapes alongside each other. These images stand in contrast and compliment each other.
Kerry matriculated at Pietermaritzburg Girls High School before studying a BA Fine Arts at the University of Stellenbosch. She currently lives and works in Durban.
Kerry was represented in the recently concluded Jabulisa 2006: the art and craft KwaZulu-Natal exhibition.
Kerry Michau in her own words
I was born and raised in Pietermaritzburg before heading to the Cape to study Fine Art at the University of Stellenbosch from 1997 - 2000. It was here that I developed my love for watercolour and obsession with colour, which is constantly fueled by the rich vibrant colours of Africa. After traveling abroad for three years after my degree I was drawn back to my roots here in KwaZulu-Natal and have been painting and exploring my medium since 2004.
I began painting landscapes which over time became more and more abstracted and now reflect memories I have of African land and seascapes, each image capturing a time and place in my life. Although my landscapes are all abstracted, they are not without subject. An idea of the horizon is always present, reflections of trees in water, the dappled light filtering through the trees. I find this type of abstraction interesting as it requires the use of the viewer's imagination, allowing them to draw their own conclusions about the work.
I found an extract from Rosamund Stone Zander and Benjamin Zander's book - 'The Art of Possibility', which I find amusing and helpful when explaining abstraction. In the book they recall an incident which occurred in the life of Pablo Picasso. Recognising Pablo Picasso in a train compartment, a man inquired of the artist why he did not paint people "the way they really are." Picasso asked what he meant by that expression. The man opened his wallet and took out a snapshot of his wife saying, "That's my wife". Picasso responded, "Isn't she rather small and flat?" When people say to me that they do not understand abstract art I feel that they are underestimating their ability to interpret art. One needs just be open to allow the image to trigger ones imagination, because for me art is after all an escape into another world.
My choice of painting miniature and multiple images is inspired by the format of a film strip and the memories I have as a child staring out of the car window while traveling long distances with my family. They are narrations of my emotions, flashes of land, sea, shadows and trees. Each square is a window into another world. As far as my choice of watercolour as a medium I love the spontaneity and immediacy of the effect that I am able to achieve with watercolour. I work with the inertia and resistance that this medium creates, pushing and pulling the colours apart. Through my landscapes I am able to explore the properties of watercolour especially its capacity to convey transparency, luminosity and intensity of pure colour, which is why Africa provides the perfect subject. My choice of every colour used is a conscious one that evokes emotion in me and hopefully the viewer.
The images I paint work together to tell the story of the landscapes that I am portraying. I try to push the boundaries of the conventional and traditional landscapes painted in watercolour, and use the paint in new exciting ways which lend themselves to a more contemporary vision I have for the portrayal of my own Africa. While all South Africans are experiencing this period of enormous transition in our country, I am drawing on the common thread which binds us all for my inspiration, our country and its rich raw beauty.
The Tatham Art Gallery holds an Art Collection that contains significant British and French artworks dating back to the 18th century. Its South-African art collection is focused on, but not exclusive to, the art of KwaZulu-Natal.
The Tatham Art Gallery hosts a range of Art Exhibitions. These include traveling and researched exhibitions as well as exhibitions initiated by the Gallery and compiled from the collection.
A selection of current and archival articles from the Tatham Art Gallery. These articles provide a historical and contemporary perspective on the Gallery and the visual arts in KwaZulu-Natal.