Interview: Lize Kruger
Luca Curci talks with Lize Kruger during LONDON CONTEMPORARY ART FAIR 2021 at THE LINE Contemporary Art Space.
Lize is a South African artist who received her BA Fine Arts Degree in 1988 from The University of Northwest in South Africa. During the eighties, until 2008, she had numerous solo exhibitions and participated in group exhibitions through the years. In the early 2000s, before she moved to the UK in 2014, she taught art lessons to students at a quadriplegic facility and an underage abuse victim’s center. After a ten-year Sabbatical from the Arts, she resumed her art career in 2018 by accepting a commission from the Directors of The Lost Gardens of Heligan in Cornwall, UK. Since then, she has exhibited extensively internationally and has featured in various publications.
“During my artistic development, I’ve developed my own visual language. In addition, I make use of general and personal symbolic images to convey my messages. Trauma is part of our human experience, and through my work, I try to make sense of this collective aspect which few of us will be able to escape. Life consists of polarities, and I refuse to shy away from them. I am driven by justice, equality, children’s rights, and to destigmatize mental health issues. However, rightly or wrongly, my approach is to bring beauty to all these challenging issues. Sometimes even the most difficult aspects in life have the potential to offer us an incredible gift. First, however, we have to be brave and willing enough to see it. I only recently explored digital media as an extra tool for expression, which I combine with more traditional methods. This interdisciplinary medium I use and how one image can evolve into another really excites me. I find it to be an incredible process that often takes me on surprising journeys of discovery. I prefer to work with accidental elements that occur when I superimpose images. It forces me to adjust and to find new potential in what is in front of me. I love the challenge the process presents to me because it pushes me out of my comfort zone. It is also the perfect analog to my personal life. I had to reinvent myself numerous times, so this creative method works very well for me. With my work, I want to create a message that finds a perfect balance between the reaction of my viewer and the emotion it invokes with which they can personally relate”.
Luca Curci – What’s your background? What is the experience that has influenced your work the most?
Lize Kruger – I am a South African-born interdisciplinary artist living and working in the United Kingdom. My care and passion for children and the vulnerable in society drive me to address injustices and abuse against them. In 2007 I created a body of work focusing on child abuse. I addressed the physical to the mental and verbal abuse they suffered at the hands of their so-called protectors. In 2008, I lost my only son to suicide, which hugely defined me and my work. In 2013/14, I was involved with young female rape victims, all under the age of 17, who were under the court’s protection. I offered art as therapy to these very traumatized girls. Together with my personal loss, this exposure had a significant impact on me as a woman, mother, and artist. Due to these experiences, my work focuses primarily on social and political injustices. Throughout history, artists continued to be the conscience of governments. I feel responsible for addressing this, no matter if the message reaches them or not. I find it impossible to stand in apathy when I witness any atrocities. I also try to create awareness about the long-term effect of injustice, war, and abuse on humanity. The given outcome can manifest as mental health and suicide. I am on a mission to rid it of all established stigma. For sufferers, more pain can be created by the public’s lack of compassion and understanding. We need to talk about these things to achieve any healing.
LC – What are you currently working on?
LK – I am working on a series called “A world in turmoil”. I make use of the image of a toddler whose picture was featured in a news article about children in refugee camps, as well as an image of my son. They represent the youth who is caught up in the mess and turmoil we as adults have created.
LC – Do you use art to express something in particular? Is it your medium of expression?
LK – Definitely yes! I am probably a frustrated activist who finds my voice of protest through my art.
LC – How do you feel when you see your work completed?
LK – My immediate reaction is satisfaction, but after a few days, I will have a clearer and more objective view. Then I will rework images and visuals. Sometimes I will have a better outcome, and other times, it would be a fatal decision.
LC – Did your style change over the years? In which way?
LK – I used to work with only oils on canvas combined with one or more layers of perspex. However, that is a costly way of creating a single artwork. So I slowly moved to a more interdisciplinary way, adding digital manipulation to achieve the same effect.
LC – What do you think about the concept of this festival? How did it inspire you?
LK – I think it is a brave concept, and it fits perfectly with my general approach to my work. It is a comforting thought to know that galleries and organizations do not shy away from these topics.
LC – In which way the artwork presented in our exhibition is connected with the festival’s theme?
LK – The content of my work has mainly to do with our brokenness, especially the fragmented state of our mental and physical wellbeing. In this way, I feel my art is being validated despite its themes and content.
LC – What is your idea about ITSLIQUID GROUP?
LK – I appreciate the groups’ involvement and passion for the arts and the support they offer to artists.
LC – What do you think about the organization of our event?
LK – As a UK resident, I have an appreciation for the fact that you offer exhibitions here and in Europe.
LC – Would you suggest a collaboration with us? What do you think about our services?
LK – This is my third collaboration with you, and I can recommend your services and level of involvement with your artists.