The Grotesquerie of Trauma
THELMA VAN RENSBURG
29 January 2021
The grotesque is a visual genre of disorder, which applied in my paintings, acts as metaphor for the psychological disorder that is caused by childhood trauma. The montage of images in my paintings culminated from a body of work created in 2013 wherein I layered ink drawings digitally onto photographs. The result being grotesquely distorted figures of women.
A montage is the technique of combining in a single composition of pictorial elements from various sources, as parts of different photographs or fragments of printing, either to give the illusion that the elements belonged together originally or to allow each element to retain its separate identity as a means of adding interest or meaning to the composition. A montage is sequenced to condense space, time and information.
The elements in my work acts as memory fragments or subconscious fragments commenting on the fragmented nature in which trauma manifests in the mind. The process used to create these paintings is a personal attempt to navigate trauma.
The artworks from 2013 has been cut-up, rephrased, collaged and recontextualized as an act of meaning making and healing. The original repression of trauma is unearthed and remembered through the act of narration by means of the creative process. Representing trauma by means of grotesque figuration and the painting process is an attempt to express the chaos childhood abuse causes in the body and mind of a person as well as acting as a vehicle to process childhood trauma and the accompanied grief of the loss of a safe childhood and a loving, caring parent.
Van Rensburg was born in Pretoria, South Africa in 1969. Van Rensburg always had an interest in art, but did not pursue it as a career until 2004. She has a B.A Honours degree in Physical education and Psychology. In 2004 she decided to enroll for a B.Tech degree in Fine Arts at Tshwane University of Technology which she completed in 2007. In 2013 she re-enrolled at the University of Pretoria for the final year of the BA degree in Fine Arts and completed the year cum laude. In 2016 she completed a Masters of Arts degree in Fine Arts at the University of Pretoria, titled Uneasy bodies, femininity and death: Representing the female corpse in fashion photography and selected contemporary artworks.
Since graduating, she has participated in eight solo exhibitions and numerous group exhibitions throughout South Africa. Her work has featured in prestigious competitions such as Sasol New Signatures, Thami Mnyele Fine Arts awards and the Sanlam Vuleka Arts competition. She also attended three artist residencies in Berlin and Mexico from 2015 to 2018.
She is constantly evolving in her art practice with expertise in painting, drawing, mixed media and print making.
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