2004 Brush Strokes of the Imagination: The Texture of Space

Artist Statement / Zaan Claassens

The types of paintings that I have created over the last 6 months are, traditionally, assigned the term “Landscapes”; however, I much prefer to call them “Soulscapes”. These are works that take root at the core of my inner self: emotionally, cognitively, and spiritually. I see these parts of myself as intrinsically interconnected at all times, working harmoniously to always unify me with the power of nature. For me, nature is the quintessential reminder that there is something greater than ourselves, a creation that is beyond what I as an artist can make, but whose wonder I strive to capture in paint.

To convey these ideas, I have felt it necessary to depart from the highly realistic style in which I have been painting over the last 10 years, and return to the abstracted approach of my youth (before the exactness of graphic arts training influenced my artistic direction). Abstraction offers me liberation from replicating the actual world, enabling me to approach my work with greater universality, freedom, spontaneity, expressiveness, and imagination. Moreover,it allows me to explore the physical properties of paint, experimenting with its consistency, colour, and texture to contribute to the significance of my nature-inspired works: the thinly-applied blues imply the fluidity and tranquility of water; the impasto greens suggest the thick, heavy, life-giving force of the earth; the swirling reds and pinks allude to the sensuousness and sensuality of natural forms.

My created spaces are imagined places that combine chance and control. From the panoramic scenes to the microcosmic motifs, my works are both subconsciously-driven and aesthetically motivated. I don’t start out thinking “Landscapes” – this long-held art historical category seems contrived and insufficient to embrace my passion for nature and the act of painting.

These are my “Soulscapes.”