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Margaret Gradwell

An impetus to paint

8 July 2016 to 2 August 2016

Margaret Gradwell is an artist who needs no introduction. She is highly admired for her sought-after paintings and is also an esteemed art instructor. Landscapes are the subjects of her predilection and she paints them in exuberant and expressive colours. Also, at the same time, she combines them with elements of beauty such as flowers, shrubs and fruit to create poetic images. Her works have the magic effect of lightening-up any interior.

She says: Spending many hours in my studio I have had much time to reflect about art, the nature of artistic identity and why I feel the need to express. This exhibition is about those thoughts. Grayson Perry (Turner prize winner 2013) said making art is like climbing a greasy pole. One can often suffer from self-consciousness that can be crippling. It is wonderful to be exposed to the art world but it can be very corrosive and one must be very committed and disciplined to persevere. Art is a marathon and not a sprint. I think art is a very serious business – the livelihood of many people and institutions often depend on the success of an artist.

Back at the studio - which is often ones refuge - I think about the becoming, growing and maturing of an artist. How much does art need to be “cutting edge” | “leading” | “avante garde”? I don’t think revolution, or rebellion is a defining idea - does art need to shock and offend? – Not for me. Art has been eclipsed by other media that shock – drugs, sex violence is common-place in gaming, web and television. The outrageous is now quite normal. Artists used to be the innovators of technology but now art chases technology. Technology changes the way we look at art - (viz. google earth, cgi movies, 3-D printing).

In the end it is the desire to express the impressions of my environment that provides the impetus for me to paint. The process to discover, to experiment, to stumble upon an effect and to be challenged by the medium and process never ceases to keep me inspired. The Free State environment has the most inspiring landscape with a rich archaeological heritage. One is acutely aware of the passage of time weather it refers to the time of day or the traces left by ancient cultures and climatic conditions. The microcosm often references the macrocosm in these landscapes.

An interlude
By looking down I see up
Dual dalliance
Dual flirtation
Hearing nothing but the sea
Glorious tranquillity
Impetus for freedom
Natural Stratos
Rem sleep
Through the chasm
Weathered in time
Old arts affair
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