Clare Menck Vinjet/Vignette 2007/8 | | Art in South Africa
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Vinjet/Vignette 2007/8

Solo exhibition at the Stellenbosch University Gallery 27 November 2007 - 5 January 2008.

Much of Clare Menck's work has a personal, autobiographic quality. Perhaps it is the generally small scale she prefers for her easle paintings of figures and nudes. It may also be the intimate spaces her subjects occupy and the unexpectedly off-guard moments she captures with a subtly voyeurist gaze.

Aspects of still-life (as can be seen in some rare recent still-lifes) are also picked up in the figure paintings of this solo exhibition, a decade after completing her Master's degree in painting at the University if Stellenbosch. Vignette thus marks her return to the gallery of her alma mater and includes some work dating back as far as 1999 to augment the present work. These paintings elaborate on the simplified figure-furniture combinations that have favoured her attention sporadically yet persistently over 15 years.

Quite aptly, one of the works depicts the artist's son in front of an interior in a frame by Terborch (“Namesakes” 2007), thus paying homage to the Dutch tradition of interior painting.


This exhibition of oil paintings by Clare Menck is representative of her by now familiar "house-scapes" (a term she coined to describe her obsession with the human factor in 'landscape') around the Karoo, the Sandveld and the West Coast, as well as of her less-seen line of nudes and quirky figures in interiors. The landscapes focusing on dwellings in the Platteland, though generally anonymous, at times allude to people she has met or that have left an impression on her. As such they include some well-known artists' homes, like the painter Walter Meyer's then home in Bethulie ('Freestate'), and Sheila Cussons' birthplace in Moravia, Piketberg (Sandveld). The latter is a red face-brick railway house few know of.

Clare Menck skilder die mense wat sy teekom en haar interesseer (hoe belangrik of kortstondig die verhouding/ oorwegend of nietig die kennis ookal) met outografiese ondersoekendheid en juistheid. Die mede-kunstenaars, die minnaars, die sterwende vriende en die afgestorwenes, die digters, die boere, die kunshandelaars en -versamelaars, die terloopse kennisse en die langdurige modelle, die spruite, die bruide, die broer se meisie en die swanger suster in haar lewe, almal word met dieselfde ongenaakbare dog deernisvolle lewensgetrouheid waargeneem en weergegee waarmee sy haarself ook skilder. Hierdie liriese interpretasies van 'n moontlik prosaiese inhoud kyk opnuut na kunstenaar/model-, kunstenaar/kunstenaar-, kunstenaar/kunshandelaar/kunsversamelaar- en interpersoonlike verhoudings en sluit naaktstudies in. Die titels (en hul vertalings) vorm 'n integrale subteks vir die lees van die werk.

Clare Menck lives and works in Piketberg and in this body of 80 paintings entitled "BRIEF JOURNEYS" she draws connections between her many strange yet familiar sightings on her 'brief journeys' into the countryside as well as to other people's private spaces, and their 'brief journeys' into her's.

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