By Claudia Gurwitz
My most recent body of work was born during SA’s lockdown and explores interrupted plant imagery. While I have always been drawn to the strength and potency of our natural environment, this series has taken a new direction, which stems from the feeling of collective disharmony that disturbs our existence during this Covid pandemic.
As organic beings in this world, we are intrinsically part of our natural world. While humanity feels off-centre during this time, we are having to find new ways of navigating this altered reality, of engaging with each other and with our environment. While we feel a disconnect, our environment, in turn, feels out of sync. My Interrupted series alludes to a subtly distorted perspective of natural form, reflective of a disturbed environment.
Attention to detail is vital to me. I have always observed and captured 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. It is in this detail that my painting exposes the sacred geometry of each form and explores the relationships between these structures; how they connect with one another. Through my painting I have always experienced the intrinsic unity that pervades nature. This gives me a sense that we live in a beautiful and orderly world.
During this pandemic crisis, I no longer experience a complete sense of calm and clarity engaging with nature and its forms. While being outdoors still provides me with some sense of grounding, I deeply feel the unease that now shapes our reality and environment. I express this through deconstructing, cropping and isolating my subject matter. I further reassemble and realign this imagery in fragments. 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. Somewhat disturbed, these landscapes reflect our disharmonious reality. Even our natural surroundings do not offer us refuge in this disrupted world.
Interrupted, a solo exhibition of paintings by Claudia Gurwitz, will be on display at the AVA Gallery,
35 Church Street, Cape Town from 2 June to 8 July.
From 1994 Claudia studied for two years at UCT’s Michaelis School of Fine Art, after which she trained as a yoga teacher and completed national certifications in various therapeutic disciplines. Since 1997 she has run her own established yoga centres in Cape Town and Riebeek Kasteel.
In 2005 Claudia returned to painting and a three-year mentorship under Julia Teale at Spencer Street Studio. In 2007 she relocated to Riebeek Kasteel where she embraced life as a professional artist; holding her first solo exhibition entitled Plant, curated and hosted by Julia Teale in 2008. Since then her career as a painter has grown (pun intended) from strength to strength, winning the SASA (South African Society of Artists) Merit Award and holding her 2nd solo exhibition, Rooted, at the Irma Stern Museum.
She also participated alongside other local Riebeek Kasteel artists in the town’s annual collaborative art event Solo Studios from 2016 to 2019, after which she returned to Cape Town where she now lives and works.
Claudia’s work features in collections such as Old Mutual, Spier Estate, University of Cape Town, Countess Antonia Labia Hardres-Williams, Hout Bay Manor and Nando’s UK.
• Published in the print edition of the May 2021 issue. Download the May 2021 issue PDF here.
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