Nicolaas Maritz loves painting, using real paint and bright colours to create images of subjects from his environment or imagination. He does what he wants and sells what is possible. He also likes to produce digital imagery and working with sound, we recently caught up with him.
AT: What direction is your work currently heading in?
At the moment I am deeply and pleasurably involved in developing greater digital skills. Both as a means of production, making digital drawings with a graphics pad and stylus, and also experimenting with different ways of amalgamating my sound works and images, and presenting it in video format. Every new project now seems to amount to a steep learning curve. It is also a major challenge to reach a larger online audience; to share
This does not mean that I don’t paint any more, just that my usual artistic activity has given birth to a number of parallel avenues of exploration. And it is as if each separate creative activity now acts as an important cross-pollinator, influencing the others in ways that are unforeseen and surprising. Sometimes there are significant suggestions about colour usage or different formats, and at other times revelations in terms of artistic perspective; fresh ways of looking at one’s own work, both intrinsically, but also about how artworks act as additional ‘stuff’ to the world.
I’m fascinated with the way art pieces ‘behave’; how they take on a life of their own once they have left the studio. The recent series of portrait paintings are especially interesting in this way. The pictures seem to project individually layered personalities; some of them quite quiet and demure, but others rather aggressive or dominating.
With the recent conglomerate sculptural works, made from my own waste and recycling materials, and shown at the Irma Stern Museum, it is a very similar scenario. An almost automatic anthropomorphic visual aspect acts out larger when the pieces are on exhibition. It is as if they behave more like themselves when on show; seemingly aware of the moment; more self-consciously on display, not unlike dogs prancing self-importantly at a dog show.
I recently created a new website to show more clearly the parallel creative activities that have become my multimedia ‘signature’; my personal artistic vernacular. From traditional paintings to digital prints; from re-cycled waste-assemblage sculpture to soundscapes, or sculptures in layered sound; and from collaged archival works on the internet, to art videos. And what I like most is that absolutely anyone, of any age or nationality, at any time of day, can see or listen to my work on their pc, tablet or smartphone.
AT: What currently inspires your work?
I have always been inspired by the things in my immediate environment. Inevitably the surrounding landscape and the notion of a metaphorical ‘horizon’. The natural wisdom of cats, in and about the home, and the enchantment of fresh lemons or eccentric succulents from my garden, have all found a place in what I do.
Currently I am obsessed with the atmospheric allure of colour; finding new ways to make colours pulsate and glow. Exploring the various mixing palettes of my graphics programme has become almost an obsession. And to understand the myriad ways in which digital colour will print out on different substrates, is in itself an inspiring process. One has to be one step ahead all the time.
And of course I am extremely involved with the continual refining of the Maritz Museum; how to display a lifetime’s idiosyncratic assortment of art and objects to greatest advantage; how to make everything speak to each other. I used to refer to the studio/gallery as a visiting card with many rooms, but over time, with the addition of a diverse collection of curious and beautiful items, most of them of no particular value, the place has changed in character to resemble a museum installation; each room a larger than life cabinet of curiosities. But it is a private art museum, and only open by appointment. It probably won’t make it on to any TripAdvisor lists, but it is my own antidote to the conceptual cleverness so prevalent at the moment.
AT: What would you like the Art Times readers to know about your upcoming exhibition?
The thing I myself am looking forward to most, is to see people’s reaction the the bright clarity of the new giclee prints. I was really blown away by the intensity of colour. There is a luminosity and translucence which most traditional printing techniques seldom manage to achieve. They shimmer like exotic butterflies on the walls of the Maritz Museum.
And I’ve decided to have them printed out in small editions, say 10 to 25 prints per image, so as not to inflate the whole business.
I’d rather keep on printing up new and different images, than to flood the market with a huge edition of the same thing.
The subject matter reflect themes from my paintings from the last twenty years or so. There are land- and farmscapes, echoes of the 1960’s black and white lino prints from my youth, two prints of red thorn trees, and two aerial views of my grandparents’ Bushveld farm, near Thabazimbi. These come from the online Digital sketchbook, Drawings sketchbook and Prints catalogue.
Then there are more contemporary works, amongst others four digital gardening works, a complete collection which may be found online in the Digital Gardening catalogue. From the Kalahari Rain Pod album I have printed out a small selection of bright prints.
The exhibition at the Maritz Museum will run from early August until end October. Viewing is by appointment only: 022 492 3202 or 078 419 7093
For people not able to make it to the Darling exhibition, a selection of the giclee prints will also be on show during September at the Kalk Bay Modern in Cape Town.