18 Aug FNB Joburg Art Fair: Georgina Gratrix | Adorable Ugliness
Georgina Gratrix is a Cape Town-based artist whose work is characterised by a sardonic playfulness and, in most cases, an obscenely thick application of oil paint. Drawing reference from both the classical art history canon and pop-culture alike, her artworks are a playful amalgamation of girly infatuation, the grotesque, and astute critical appraisal. Georgina will have work in the Dialogues with Masters exhibition at this year’s FNB Joburg Art Fair, curated by Thembinkosi Goniwe, which invited ten contemporary artists to respond visually to the work of 20th century South African masters.
You work across a range of mediums, but your practice seems informed by painting. What is it about this medium that appeals to you so much?
I love and loathe painting and I think that’s what keeps my interest in the medium. Trying to find new ways to like it and new things to do with it.
What are some of the impressions, realisations, trajectories explored and influences interpreted that have played a part in shaping your practice along the way…
Lately I’ve realised how important it is finding a studio practice that suits me. At the moment it’s working at night and early hours of morning listening to bad rave on the radio that seems to work.
Please can you tell us a little about your interest in the materiality and corporeality of paint, and how this translates thematically in your work…
I have always been able to make a mess. Paint is very useful for this.
You’ve achieved the improbable – seemingly effortlessly infusing a sense of humour into painting. What’s so important about this for you?
A multitude of things can be hidden behind a wry smile.
Portraiture is one of your favoured genres – what about this traditional form interests you?
Portraiture is a bad habit. I smoke too much too.
Please tell us about some of the motifs that recur in your work – the eyes, bows, rainbows, etc. and what these represent…
The motifs are for me a sort of hieroglyphics. Vicious eye lashes and bows, puppies, too many teeth, pineapples and palm trees, lonely birds. Kitschy tropicana. Adorable ugliness.
What ideas and themes are you exploring/working with at the moment, and how will they translate into your work?
Currently thinking about unpainting. And calendars.
What are you currently looking at/reading/watching/listening to?
Right now I am camping in Canada and developing an appreciation for country music and rediscovering Alanis Morisette.
Painting is enjoying quite a revival with a new wave of young painters exploring the medium. Is there anyone from this group that you think we should have our eye on?
In Berlin I saw a lot of young painters. Quite overwhelming how many. It’s great to go to a Maria Lassnig show and see a woman in her 90s doing it so much better.
Art fairs are smorgasbords of different artistic styles, genres and mediums. What do you enjoy about participating in this kind of event?
I think art fairs are not really for artists. The show Thembinkosi Goniwe is curating this year should be interesting.
Find out more about Georgina’s work via SMAC Art Gallery.
All images: Copyright Georgina Gratrix. Photos courtesy of SMAC Art Gallery, Stellenbosch, South Africa.