Interview: Lize Kruger
Luca Curci talks with Lize Kruger during VENICE INTERNATIONAL ART FAIR 2021 and BODIES+CITIES SKIN, the first appointment of BORDERS ART FAIR 2021, at THE ROOM Contemporary Art Space.
“My work has mainly to do with creating awareness about social issues and mental health. I dive deep into my own experiences in order to stay authentic with my expression. To me, Art is Life and Life is Art. It is my daily oxygen. I am adamant to find beauty in the darkest moments and honey in the bitter chalice”. Lize received her BA FINE ARTS Degree in 1988 in South Africa. She had numerous solo exhibitions and partook in various group exhibitions through the years. She moved to the UK in 2014, taught art lessons to students of a quadriplegic facility, and to a center for underage rape victims. After a silence of ten years, she started her career in the arts again in 2018, by accepting a Commission from the Directors of The Lost Gardens of Heligan.
Luca Curci – What is art for you?
Lize Kruger – I would describe art as the oxygen I need daily. And I am not talking about only fine arts. I need beauty in my immediate surroundings. From the cup, I have my first-morning tea to my lovely cottage garden. The art I create gives life more meaning, and it allows me to communicate myself in ways that words can’t even begin to express. I try to find meaning in everything I do, whether it’s with my artwork or family. As such, empathy is a vital part of how I interact and care for others.
LC – How did you get to your current artistic practice?
LK – The Covid lockdown awakened my longing to create. I went off the art radar about twelve years ago due to two tragedies in my life. I was thrust back into an industry that I Left since depression took the life of both my son and youngest brother, along with any will or motivation left in me for creativity. My long-neglected skills reemerged from a place deep inside myself where they lay dormant through years of mental distress following their deaths as if finally remembering who I am again after twelve long years on hiatus – a visual storyteller at heart when it comes down to what is vital in this world: love conquering hate every time. Due to my personal history, mental health became an issue I want to create awareness about and address frequently. Social injustice is always a thorn in my side, and I use that as content.
LC – Where do you find your inspiration?
LK – I approach my work with a profound curiosity about the world, and I am always eager to see how one image can lead to another. It is an exciting process that often takes me on surprising journeys of discovery, but it all starts when something stirs up emotions in me, which allows me to create images from that feeling. Creating a message is usually exciting because I have to find the perfect balance between what will invoke emotion and make people think about it long after they studied the artwork. And once I’ve found that then all there’s left to do is wait until my brain starts feeding me more ideas on how one element can lead into another and develop in such great detail. The empowered feeling of being liberated to work without restraint is invigorating. It’s a relief that this creative energy has finally been unleashed in me after such long periods of silence and inactivity, but it can be overwhelming at times as well. I’ve never stopped working for so many hours before! My house looks more like a factory nowadays, and there is complete chaos.
LC – What is your creative process like?
LK – When I first started to work on my digital collages, it resulted from wanting a new medium that would allow me more flexibility. The accidental elements make these pieces such an exciting journey for me (as one never knows where they will go next). It is similar to life – you can’t predict what each day might bring or how your journey may change course yet again. I needed to reinvent myself numerous times throughout my lifetime, and so too do I reinvent the images time after time to keep things challenging and creative.
LC – How is being an artist nowadays?
LK – Being an artist nowadays is exhilarating. When I was last actively part of the art scene, social media was none exciting. The speed with which my work could be seen this time around still astounds me and makes me feel like a child in a candy shop – happily overwhelmed by exposure’s speed. The discovery of new mediums is pure joy to me.
LC – What is the message linked to the artwork you have shown in this exhibition? How is it connected to the theme of the entire festival?
LK – The four works that were part of this exhibition had mainly to do with grief, loss and commentary on recently discovered horrors that played out in facilities for unmarried mothers in Ireland. For instance, “Tuam III”. The Tuam home in Ireland was a Catholic facility known for the horrific abuses of young mothers. Mothers were locked up and forced to give birth with no medical attention or assistance while also being subjected to physical abuse from staff members when it came time for them to take their babies back because they couldn’t pay their upkeep fees. “The Day His Heart and Mind Broke At The Same Time’ is a title I stole from my eldest daughter. She tried to explain to her four-year-old why her uncle died. How does one explain suicide to a four-year-old? It was the wisest description I’ve ever heard. ”Flowers Without Colour” is addressing the long-term effect of childhood trauma on a child. That child can be a refugee, victim of child abuse, or neglect. With “Roots Of Judgement” I’ve tried to illustrate how powerful religious fundamentalism can be. The baptism dress is, to me, a symbol of either purity or religious indoctrination. And in most cultures, the condemnation of churches and dogmas for the victims of suicide is devastating to the surviving loved ones.
LC – Do you agree with our vision of art and what do you think about the theme of the festival?
LK – The vision of ITSLIQUID to create connection, accessibility for artists and other disciplines is what every creative wants for his or her career. The theme of ‘LIQUID ROOMS’ where “the hidden parts of our identities, through an immersive experience inside the fascinating universe of the complex labyrinths of our consciousness are being analyzed” is right up my alley. I cannot disconnect myself and my experiences from my surroundings and realities. The same goes for my work. Either as personal documentation or as documentation of an observer.
LC – Do you think ITSLIQUID GROUP can represent an opportunity for artists?
LK – Definitely yes.
LC – Did you enjoy cooperating with us?
LK – The communication and assistance from the start of our collaboration was a pleasant experience.
LC – What do you think about ITSLIQUID Platform?
LK – I think it plays an essential role in bringing creative disciplines together and connecting them with excellent opportunities.