Gabrielle Kruger looks at what we think of as the natural environment, and how we as humans have changed that with her body of work Ungrounding Landscape. Deconstructing and recontextualising the traditional medium of acrylic, Gabrielle uses her art to portray natural imagery while acknowledging and addressing the affect that we as humans have had on the natural world.
Based in Cape Town, Gabrielle attended Stellenbosch for her Bachelors in fine arts and UCT’s Michealis art school for her post grad. Ungrounding Landscape is her Masters exhibition, which was shown at Michealis galleries earlier this year.
“My work interrogates traditional Western landscape painting in light of the contemporary understanding that ‘nature’ has been rearticulated, even plasticised and hence rendered malleable, through human action,” says Gabrielle, as recent evidence indicates that traces of plastic are now in the earth.
Gabrielle’s work depicts scenes of nature painted in acrylic to subvert “high art”, according to the artist. “My paintings underscore traditional Western landscape painting’s highly artificial nature — its inclusion and exclusion of certain elements within a frame — by focusing on the materiality of acrylic paint as a type of plastic; an artificial material synonymous with ideas of fakeness.”
Her process involves painting onto plastic using acrylic, and peeling the artwork off of the plastic sheet, thereby “ungrounding” the artwork. The canvas and from contribute as much to the painting as the work itself, and so the artist deconstructs the painting and its meaning by removing it from its supporting structures.
The paintings mimic plants and foliage, and are then “landscaped” into a gallery space. “The paint becomes like camouflage,” she says, “an object of simulation and trickery: is it paint, a landscape, is it foliage? It is all these things. But on a molecular level it remains plastic paint. Through my painting I want to show that ‘nature’ cannot be encapsulated by simply painting a landscape on a canvas.”