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The pool of the psyche: water in the work of Ariana van Heerden and Kevin Roberts

By Ingrid Stevens

Ariana van Heerden and Kevin Roberts are South African painters and both depict water in numerous works, in very different ways, varying from the wide oceans to the water in a cup. This paper will investigate their paintings of this substanceless substance, and aspects of the unconscious that are reflected in their works when the latter are approached from a Jungian and neo-Jungian point of view.

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The dynamical: surf
Deep thoughts afloat deep waters

September 7, 2004
By Miranthe Staden-Garbett
Venue: Pretoria Art Museum

Clearly these stirring, swelling visions in oil paint and pastel are the result of an intense exploration of the relationship between nature, self and science, memory and the eternal moment. As such, Ariana's work emerges from a fusion of contradictions, especially those of time and space.

Each moment, whether painstakingly or spontaneously rendered, combines to form a kaleidoscope of colour, form and energy.

Many of these paintings seem to capture both the force and stillness that characterise the sea and nature. This project is challenging on various levels, for both the artist and viewer.

The sea, specifically the surf, is an ancient motif, laden with symbols and connotations. But it has garnered sentimental or even clichéd connotations, which leads me to think this is a task for either the foolhardy or brave.

I assume from her work and ideas that she is the latter. Ariana van Heerden has interpreted the surf through a personal perspective. Alluding to her interests in astronomy, travel and science, the surf becomes a medium for both cerebral adventure and sensual wonderment.

It is difficult to ascertain to what extent the artist has rendered her subject realistically or abstractly. Those that veer toward the abstract, however, do not subscribe to the idea of art for art's sake.

These images allude to universal, numinous qualities and the power of nature with its moods and mysteries, our shapeshifting mistress with whom our artist is clearly enamoured.

The viewer is faced with a series of colourfully abstract visions, waves, swirls and ripples, sometimes shifting into cloud-like and starry galaxy formations. Despite their scientific validations, I feel these paintings speak another kind of language, one of awe and sensuality.

Thus the viewer is required to match his awe with the artist's, or else the effect will be all but lost. The artist's passion speaks to those who recognise their own through hers. The gargantuan task of converting these eternal philosophical themes into science, poetry and paint, is one in which the grandness of the ideal may outweigh its execution. In other words, its a risky enterprise.

In the final analysis, perhaps, Ariana's paintings may not yet equal her astounding depth and breadth of vision. However, with this kind of passion, rigourous observation and intuitive interpretation one could see these recent offerings as an inseparable part of a growing, greater whole.

The exhibition is up and running, but I daresay the greater project is still in process. These are but a taste of the artist's reservoirs, and it is with interest that I await the next installment of deep thoughts afloat deep waters.

Van Heerden skep Zen-tuin vir die oog

Tina Skukan-galery, Faerie Glen, Pretoria.
Diek Grobler

Ariana van Heerden skilder stilte. Alhoewel dit wat die toeskouer sien vaardige weergawes van wolke en water is, lê die betekenis van die werk nie in dit wat weergegee word nie, maar in die toeskouer se ervaring daarvan.

Dit het baie te doen met hoe ons na wolke en water kyk: met bewondering, introspeksie, in meditasie selfs.

Die werke is ongetiteld. Elk het bloot ‘n nommer, soos Kandinsky sy abstrakte komposisies genommer het.

Hoewel die wolk en watervorms soos abstrakte komposisies lyk, kan dit nooit bloot komposisies wees nie. Die onderwerp is so ‘n integrale deel van die wyse waarop die werk ervaar word dat ‘n cliché soos art imitating life nuwe betekenis kry.

My belewing van Van Heerden se werk is dat dit my rustig stem – dit is byna net so hipnoties soos wat die werklike dam water of wolkverskynsel sou wees. Dit is ‘n Zen-tuin vir die oog.

Soos in die geval van ‘n Zen-tuin is skaal egter ‘n vereiste vir totale bevrediging: die klein kantoormodelsandkissies met klip en harkie bring nie die gewenste innerlike stilte teweeg nie.

So vind ek Van Heerden se klein werkies ook: hoewel tegnies ewe vaardig, nie so aangrypend en bevredigend soos die groot werke nie.

In ‘n ideale wêreld sou ‘n mens elke werk in isolasie wou sien sodat die kalmerende impak van elkeen optimal ervaar kon word.

Te veel rustige wolkies langs mekaar maak ‘n woelige hemelruim.

Die kunstenaar stel egter die toeskouer in staat om sy eie rustige komposisie te kies, dit tuis in isolasie te gaan hang en elke dag vrede daarin te vind – ‘n uitstekende rede om te skilder.

In search of paradise

Paintings reveal the perfect paradox of nature

Turbulence and Transience – Ariana van Heerden

VENUE : Tina Skukan Galery.

Miranthe Staden-Garbett

Ariana van Heerden tells me she’s looking for paradise. Her remarkable series of sky- and waterscapes, prolifically created over 18 months, are testimony to her having found just that: a paradise that exists, everyday and all around us.

These images of pastel on paper may inspire the viewer to shed jaded perspectives for renewed awe in the simple and infinite.

From the delicate dance of a cotton-wool cloud, to the brooding intensity of a stormy sea or sky, Ariana has obsessively documented her impressions of each uniquely lovely and lyrical moment. In a particular light, or teasing breeze, the perfect paradox of nature is revealed.

For as much as these images convey the turbulence and transience of the elements, which in turn reflect our own consciousness, they express equally the still and infinite.

Every elusive moment is a miniature of the nature of time and space. Constant, yet ever-changing.

They have the feel of music, something to remind and remove, capturing both the real and the abstract.

They recall the sentiments of poet Jaan Kaplinski who, better than I, expresses the mysterious link between the sensual and spiritual, so evident in Ariana’s work:

So this is it, this is you. The eyes are melting in the clouds, it is love, love that cuts us from squared paper and lets the fire warm us and the rain come through us until between the earth and us the last borderlines vanish. This is love: the leaves of trees and the light like ourselves full of evidence of the infinite. We shall be and we shall be what is not. We shall remain what belongs to no one. (from The same sea in us all, 1985, Harvill Press)

It is unusual to find such technical proficiency matched with passion, sensitivity and simplicity.

This exhibition is well worth seeing.

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