Natasja De Wet Melancholia 2019 | | Art in South Africa
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Melancholia 2019 | Pathology Museum, UCT Pathology Learning, Cape Town

Artist Photo
Melancholia, Oil, acrylic, wood ash, industrial enamel, found muck, wood glue, resin, bedding, felt, canvas (front view), 250 x 600 x 36 cm, 2017

Artist Statement

Critical theorist Julia Kristeva (1989) notes that "for those who are wracked by melancholia, writing about it would have meaning only if writing sprang out of that very melancholia" (Kristeva, 1989:3). Similarly, my body of work titled Melancholia is intended to be an expression emerging from a melancholic state. This body of work is a personal exploration and material translation of my experience of the melancholic disposition. The work is an attempt to articulate deep-seated sadness and layered introversion, as well as the positive side of the true melancholic. Through an intuitive process of making, I intend to create an awareness on a social level of the strengths and weaknesses of this misunderstood temperament.

In this project, I have engaged with this conception of melancholia as a generative mental and emotional state. In an effort to visually and materially translate the inner experience of melancholia in a physical form, the materiality of this body of work hinges on the intuitive selection of mainly found materials that, through their abject qualities, embody my own experience of melancholia. This material interpretation of melancholia involves the dense layering of canvas, in different weights, placed close together and bound by a mixture of glue, paint and detritus swept up off the studio floor, such as hair, broken feathers, dust, ash, small found materials and other 'muck'. This layering of abject material upon abject material renders dense, yet nuanced forms that are compelling in that they are imbued with, not only darkness and weight but also a contradictory lightness and delicate complexity.

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