Philippa Graff

Johannesburg, South Africa

Painting is my form of expression and I am forever grateful to be able to articulate my thoughts through my art. I have consciously embraced a deeper freedom of not striving toward the perfect painting. The imperfection, the reworking, and the feeling of rawness are all part of my process that I humbly accept. I may rework the canvas time and again, but ultimately, I settle into a place of non-judgmental peace.

The COVID isolation has resulted in an even greater intensity of commitment to my passion of painting. My artwork will continue to be my form of situational declaration. Nature, Deforestation and Global Warming will always be intrinsic themes I will not ignore, and I feel they are deserving of ongoing imaginative statements.

My journey is far from complete. Like so many in this world, I continue life with veracity and determination. That is my choice. I hope you can feel my sincerity and energy through all my paintings. Enjoy!

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– represents a sold painting

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My work is a commitment to the process of painting, to the manipulation of paint so as to create images that express personal experiences that evoke the universal. This particular body of work has evolved from my revisiting the memory of being amongst the trees along the driveway and the bottom of the garden of my childhood home. Here I felt at one with myself’ . I have made paintings that rekindle my sense of that specific place, both physically and emotionally. Moreover, these works become metaphors for the experiencing of the concept of the urban forest that is indeed pertinent to Johannesburg as a context.

The stability of tree trunks and branches, contrasted with the movement of falling leaves seem to signify both permanence and transience in the changing of the foliage over time as it falls to the ground: renewal is present in nature’ s growth and change. This is essential to any experience of trees. In recognition of the tangible quality of the forest, I derive materials from it to add to my oil paint: leaves, sticks and sand give the paintings an element of tactility. My intention is to give a sense of the patterns of bark, of the filtered light that dapples the scene and the multitude of leaves both as crowns of the trees and carpeting the ground. The integration between structure and light and shadow become the focus of my vision. There is also reference to the decorative textiles with their curvilinear and geometricized patterning that would have been in the house echoing what exists in the garden outside. Metaphorically these works are like ‘tapestries’ , since they seem to be colour woven onto cloth, paint woven onto canvas. My painting process appears to be loose and without conscious decision, as it makes up the image. As I create the image, “the underside of the tapestry seems to be nothing more than a jumble of thread, occasionally knotted but seemingly random.” Corrie ten Boom

In my process I embrace the idea of chance. I have no preconception of the final painting but explore the paints qualities by adding and eliminating, as the image develops and presents a visual reality. This represents my experience of that internal tapestry of trees that resides in Johannesburg. There is an increasing density of urban life in this contemporary city. Perhaps my work represents a nostalgia for the nature that is disappearing. Actually, those trees in my childhood forest, have been cut down, to be replaced by new houses.

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