Building on a reputation established in the United States, Tay Dall is one of South Africa’s leading modern artists. Her work has been shown in more than 90 exhibitions, is represented by more than 20 galleries, and is prized by thousands of international art collectors. Born in Cape Town in 1966, Dall began taking art classes at the age of 8, finally finishing her education with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the Michaelis School of Art at the University of Cape Town. In 1988, she immigrated with her family to Los Angeles, where she worked in the film industry, studied computer graphics and began exhibiting her work in various venues in her free time. Her eminent success here led to a full-time career as an artist. Dall returned to South Africa permanently in 1995. She currently paints from her studio in Vermont.
When asked why she began her journey into abstraction, Dall says: “why attempt to ‘repeat’ reality, especially when all you are doing is copying something? I always found that working from life was like giving the world an image they already knew and felt familiar and comfortable with. I always wanted to make people look more closely and think more, and if you give your audience a straight replication of life, there is no reason for them to see otherwise. It was therefore so important for me to paint how I felt, what I believed and saw as opposed to how something was in the natural world.” Dall often draws from nature, trying to project a feeling of “inner truth, inner rhythm,” which might be inherent in her subject but not obvious to the naked eye.
“It is this very notion of seeing beneath or allowing one’s own inner voice to comment on what one sees that encouraged me to manipulate my own vision onto the canvas and allow the viewer more room for individual interpretation,” she says.
Dall says that her style of painting was a gradual evolution of constant experimentation and re-evaluation, which, over time, changed into abstraction, away from its beginnings in figuration. One can see this if you compare her older works to her current pieces. “My style is definitely recognizable but it changes and evolves constantly “she says. “In retrospect, my early work was far darker and there was less colour and I relied more on drawing from nature than from my own inner perceptions and imagination. When I moved to America, my work became brighter and more colourful.
Upon returning to South Africa, my work went
into a whole new dimension becoming more
direct and bolder. My work now is more esoteric, leaving more to the viewer’s imagination.” A need to share what she thinks, sees and feels with others is Dall’s inspiration. She also endeavors’ to elicit a certain reaction from her audience. “Making myself and people view things differently and think about everything in a new way” she says.
“I definitely do not paint just for myself, even though I obtain an enormous amount of pleasure from the actual act of painting”.