SENSUAL, other-worldly & unmistakably feminine, these oil paintings by Christa Myburgh yet speak of that which is wholly about real-world realities. One is confronted with beautifully rendered figures amidst curious spaces and equally odd shapes
On closer inspection and in conversation with the artist, a woman of tremendous presence and allure, I learnt that these are images of herself and her two young children. She paints her story – a single mother of two fending for her children and yet at the same time expressing her exuberant, creative talents.
Her formal arts training backed up with her life experiences and strong drawing ability are such that she renders her figures with keen sensitivity: The lines are not overbearing; skin tones that are raw and yet seamlessly flow, allowing a certain light and lightness of being and a caressing gaze both of herself and her children.
Artwork Top: 7
Artwork Above: Stickeys and stones may break our bones but words will never hurt us, 2016 Oil on canvas 250 x 200 cm
Quite amazingly, her children sit for her, sometimes for quite extended periods. In addition, she works from photographs. Her understanding of anatomy; the weight of the body and the flow of paint to create volume and density is palpable. The figures assert their presence. At the same time, there is loss; lack; emptiness and void. Spaces that are ill-defined, surreal forms that one cannot quite place and an ethereal, mystical and religious references.
The latter is said as one cannot eschew the obvious references to the Madonna and Child. Yet, she plays with the stereotypical image – the flesh is real; there is not one but two children and the whole image becomes rather more universal so that as Rothko once said, one can dispense with “the outmoded props of history”.
Artwork: Sunday, Monday, Someday and always, 2017, Oil on canvas 170 x 170 cm
Christa tells me of her intent to kind of narrate a silent play. The silence is its absence. But the sound is one of colour, patient building and layering of surfaces, the meticulous rendering of a spatial dynamism and perspectival depth. She further explains that while her images are posed, almost theatre-like, she intends to move and transport the viewer into an alternative reality. Thus, in my estimation, she transcends the realist style – in fact, on closer inspection one finds in paintings such as “dissolved, resolved, solved number 1” – that she is a bit freer, allowing the paint to flow, drip and fuse in unpredictable ways.
Yet, one should not loose oneself in the singular mystery and the undefined, for she implores the viewer to be aware of the vulnerability of self and of the body – its veins and contortions, its structure and complex colour. To this end, the skill of her craft is evident as she uses various glazing techniques, and always at the same time, reverts to the mother of the arts, namely drawing. This, then is “filled in” with the meticulous exercise of painting. The worlds she creates and the narratives she tells (shows) is at one at the same time both intensely real and an illusion, a play.
Christa Myburgh has participated in numerous group shows. She was in the top 100 in the SA portraits competition; top 14 in the Kempton Park Thembisa competition and runner up in the SA art magazine competition in 2015.
Her current show at Eclectica Contemporary is sure to excite.