REFLECTING SELF (Equus Gallery, Stellenbosch, 2014) – available for viewing

Charcoal drawings on paper
2014 - Solo show


Marieke Kruger

Reflecting Self


Solo exhibition, Equus Gallery, Cavalli Estate.

Introductory opening speech by Prof Elizabeth Gunter

18 October 2014 – 17 November 2014



This exhibition constitutes Marieke Kruger’s partial submission for obtaining the Master of Arts degree in Visual Arts from Stellenbosch University. The work on display is a careful selection from a much larger number of drawings and even more ideas still to be fully explored in the form of art works. On display here we see a mere fraction of Marieke’s work as some concrete evidence of an exceptional creative energy, unfaltering determination, and perhaps no small degree of single-minded obstinacy that endorse her as master of the medium.


At the core of Marieke’s drawing process lays the notion of mutuality, the exchanges of empathy we practice and live with persistence, sometimes with ease, often with difficulty, but always in order to grow, to learn, to think and understand,to feel, and to cope with the transformations that such mutual exchange inevitably enacts or inflicts.


The understanding that exchange constitutes mutuality, a back and forth dynamic emanating from opposite directions to overlap and recursively accrue from one another, each enriching its opponent upon return, shedding itself in the other, also helps us to understand its powers to draw together those familiar opposing forces we have come to perceive as dualities. Mutuality draws together one such polarity that Marieke has singled out to address with curiosity and the force that is visible in her drawings. Self versus Other, a dualism ever in need of retelling, appear in her work as closely intimate to the point of being fused. We recognize in Self the Other, and in Other we recognize Self; we know ourselves as being and always becoming in life-world, because life-world is our construct, and ours alone.We can know our many selves only while in life-world. Our playing fields are those parts of the crossroads that overlap, the mid-spheres that draw together its pilgrims to discover unknown destinations and redraw familiar places as somewhat deepened, with each redrawing somewhat different.


Marieke shows us that one such mid-sphere could be the act of drawing, because it draws from the self to reveal its complexities on the outside and at the same time, with uncanny simultaneity that the drawing act can orchestrate, it registers life-world to store its complexities inside, affirming the indivisible omnipotence of both self and life-world.She articulates this notion as follows, and I quote directly from her Masters thesis:


The drawing process could be considered a highly personal process that confronts the self before addressing its audience – it truly acts as a soliloquy that turns back onto itself to understand the self-as-being before it becomes communication.


Arguably, her visual articulation of the same notion reveals to us what she does not say in words: that we conduct the soliloquy only ever in mute utterances of those intimacies between our selves and life-world, but that we disclose them through trace: marking and illuminating the complex paths of our personal histories.


The forceful contrast in Marieke’s drawings between black and white, and between transparency and opacity – literally on paper, figuratively on skin – become a dance between revelation and concealment. What she discloses evokes what remains hidden. She lets out some secrets only to make us aware of those she refuses us. Resolve is never an option.


Perhaps some degree of resolve becomes visible through the rich grays that are typical of Marieke’s drawings. They appear asan infinite array between the nothingness of white and the solidity of black, creating persuasive play between reality and illusion, between fragility and strength. They offer some resolve in alerting the viewer to another duality: that of absence and presence. It is in the grays that she traces her self, where Marieke’s presence challenges her absence as false, as much as her absence challenges her presence as real. The grays trace that closely partnered inter- and counteracts of unification and coherence that also show us where and how exactly she overcomes a faithful companion of vulnerability – fear.

It is an honour to declare this exhibition open. Thank you, Marieke, and the curator, Carina, for the opportunity to do so.



Title:  Betrayal  & Denial and Martyrs & Sacrifices series, Medium:  Charcoal drawings on paper. Dimensions:  1.5 m x 2.3 m each Date:  2013

Title: Betrayal & Denial and Martyrs & Sacrifices series, Medium: Charcoal drawings on paper, Date: 2013.