10 Questions with Laurette de Jager
Posted on 17 November 2022
The concept of making strange the familiar and familiar the strange is a leitmotif in Laurette de Jager's work. While her style has been described as contemporary surrealism, her work focuses on looking beyond the discernible to that which functions as undercurrents for society.
She holds a MA in Visual Arts and made her curatorial debut with the exhibition and accompanying webinar titled Apart / A Part exhibited at art.b in November 2020 and has since curated Violent Femmes in June 2021 and The Secret History in November 2021.
De Jager is one of our selected 10 Art.co.za Watch List artists to follow in 2023. The new annual list of the most on-the-rise artists in South Africa features the artists across various media and subject matter who are gained momentum in the past year and who are reaching new heights in their art careers.
If not art, what would you do?
Always art first, then followed closely by reading. I am a fierce reader so I wouldn't mind being a reviewer of literature.
Where does your inspiration come from?
My inspiration comes from reading and thinking real hard about the world and our place in it.
What's your secret obsession?
Truthfully, I am currently obsessed with moss and fungi, but more broadly speaking I would say: Learning to be attentive, responsive and response-able towards the world.
Do you have a creative muse?
I do: every few months I need to spend at least a few days submerged in nature. The environment may shift from ocean, to arid to forest. I am currently preoccupied by a piece of fenland and a surrounding stretch of milkwood forest in the coastal town of Hermanus.
Which creative medium would you love to pursue but haven't yet?
I am fascinated by wax encaustic but haven't had the chance to attend a workshop and wouldn't know where to start.
Favorite time of the day?
Golden hour, between 4 and 6 in the afternoon ( but perhaps a bit later in summer, say around 8pm) but not quite twilight, when everything is bathed in golden sunlight and one can hear the world breathe.
What is your most important artist tool? Is there something you can't live without in your studio?
I will always be a painter at heart, no matter which other media I may explore, I will always return to oils. I recently discovered Zest-it paint dilutant and brush cleaner, which have eased my conscience dramatically. I can now glaze in a less toxic and more holistic manner.
Favourite or most inspirational place in South Africa?
There are far too many. I have always loved the Kgalagadi, but I love Hermanus, Tsitsikama and the Karoo equally. Any place that have a clear view of the horizon, unspoilt by high-rise constructions and air pollution.
What, in your opinion, is the hardest step in creating an artwork?
Destroying the integrity of the white canvas, which is why I start by laying on as much and as ridiculously intense hues as possible.
What's the best creative advice you've ever received?
Do not waste time searching for your style, nor for inspiration. Do the work and the rest will follow. And along with that do not become fixated on the end result but work for the sheer enjoyment of the process.
And then I could add the advice I give my students: The success of your work may never be measured in sales or likes, therefore do not seek gratification in the opinion of others, but rather in the fulfilment of the process.
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