About The Artist
It can safely be said that all good contemporary art refers in some way to 'the human condition'. While Natasja de Wet does not set out deliberately to make profound statements about any specific aspect of this topic, the perceptive viewer should quickly realise that all her works, in some way, reflect the 'angst' connected with being human.
Also in keeping with contemporary trends, she does not allow herself to become trapped in a single medium or discipline but moves freely between oil painting, mixed-media drawing, three-dimensional assemblage and installation.
Her best-known works are her oil paintings, in which she applies paint in thick, rich brushstrokes; often on acrylic sheets. These are known for the informal portraiture in which images and faces emerge from a seemingly chaotic darkness. Her use of traditional chiaroscuro is enhanced by the layering of several sheets of acrylic through which visual information is concealed and revealed. All these artistic devices serve to enhance the energy, pathos and vulnerability of the human faces.
Likewise, her drawings and mixed-media works are energetic and dramatic; sometimes linked to her three-dimensional assemblages, which are constructed from found objects. These works appear to entail a system of gradually 'excavating meaning' from objects collected in an intuitive and seemingly random manner.
A recent example of this modus operandi (2004) includes detritus collected from the local mental institution. (De Wet rented studio space in an old unused building belonging to this institution). A rusty bed base with exposed springs, old keys with stamped and coded metal tags, a burnt-out gas heater, all became powerful metaphors for a section of society that is marginalised because it evokes fear, anxiety and unease in so-called 'normal' people. When drawn on extra-large formats with a mixture of inks and charcoal in a spontaneous style, they also became portraits of the spiritual presence of unknown, afflicted persons.
All De Wet's work could be seen as portraiture of some kind. Just as a superior portrait painter gives the viewer an almost voyeuristic insight into the nature of a person, so Natasja de Wet instinctively strives to reveal something of the inner character or soft underbelly of humankind.
Written April 2005 by Judy Moolenschot BA Fine Art (Unisa)
Natasja de Wet was born in South Africa in 1968. She is a Fine Art and Graphic Design graduate from Tshwane University of Technology. De Wet continued her studies in Visual Art at UNISA under former professor and HOD of Visual Art Elfriede Dreyer and Koos van der Watt, at third-year level in Drawing and Painting. De Wet’s subtle portrayal of the human psyche led her to study Psychophonetics (personal development) at Persephone College under Jehuda Tagar. In 2017 she completed a Postgraduate Diploma in Painting at Michaelis School of Fine Art.
In her early solo exhibitions, Facing Reality (2001) and Living in Process (2002), she questioned and excavated, with oil on acrylic sheets, the continual process of life. In 2004 she followed these with a conceptual and installation exhibition about Valkenburg Mental Hospital (Re-Con-Text), with dramatic drawings and mixed-media work linked to three-dimensional assemblage, constructed from found objects.
After partaking in a group exhibition (Afrovibes) in Amsterdam, another solo exhibition, Thicker Skin was held in Cape Town in 2008 (the work here a row of acrylic boxes containing objects made from fabric, latex, gauze, bandages, rubber and paper, exploring issues like camouflage, hiding, insecurity and sexuality).
Also in 2008, Sasol Gas acquired the work on paper 'The grass is greener on the other side', and it now hangs in the foyer of the Sasol Gas building in Johannesburg.
In 2009 De Wet participated in the Florence Biennale, where she received an award for ‘Excavating Solid Courage’ – a mixed-media work on paper. She continued with this theme and showed the body of work ‘Contemplation’ at the 2011 Izmir Biennale in Turkey.
In her fifth solo exhibition, Running Towards Yourself, in Cape Town in 2013, De Wet explored the notion that, unconsciously, humans are in constant flux to balance, or at least harmonize, the feminine and masculine sides of their being. The paintings were produced in acrylic on canvas, allowing for the rapid and energetic application of paint and expressionistic mark-making.
In 2015 one of De Wet’s paintings from the body of work ‘Running Towards Yourself’ was acquired for the permanent collection of the city of Seinäjoki, in Finland.
All De Wet’s work can be seen as portraiture of some kind. She instinctively strives to reveal the inner character, or soft underbelly, of humankind.
TERTIARY TRAINING - COMPLETED STUDIES
Tshwane University of Technology
Michaelis School of Fine Art
COMPETITIONS AND AWARDS
TELEVISION AND RADIO INTERVIEWS
WORK EXPERIENCE AS LECTURER
April 1997 - August 1997
January 1998 - December 1998
January 2008 - October 2013
Website of South African Artists