“I’m an artist, an art teacher and an aesthete,” says Philippa Graff, “and I am continually refreshed by good taste and the simple subtle elements of design.”
Philippa’s paintings have a tactile quality. Her works are characterized by their textured surfaces, on which she applies expressive mark-making and painterly brushstrokes. Continuing she said, “my keen sense of colour is evident throughout my work, which depicts abstract images of nature.”
Philippa was born in Johannesburg, and says her reverence for nature is rooted in her childhood spent surrounded by trees and forests.
“I seek refuge from the sun in my shady garden, and am fascinated with shadow, filtered light and the forest floor. These elements, coupled with an awareness of modernization and urbanization of the city, have become an integral part of my aesthetic, and one of the sources of my subject matter.”
Philippa says further, "I capture the moment in photo. It is the unplanned, involuntary visual experience that I translate into compositions on canvas. I am intrigued by the wealth of design, pattern and colour in nature and manmade artefacts, in architecture and textiles. I respond with my emotional retort. It is the composition or items stripped to the bare essentials that pleases me."
"I am also moved by the devastation in war and natural disasters, and associate the primitive instinct of man to survive, as nature’s power to regrow and revive. I am fascinated by the resilience in both man and nature. In the same way, peace and happiness has a spontaneous effect on nature. I take pleasure in a hosepipe rolled up after watering plants and the dead-headed roses that land on the ground. I relish in the linear rhythm of trees in a forest. In my fascination with interiors I see a used cup of coffee, sugar bowl or teabag on a plate, as unplanned and spontaneous."
Her palette of colours is determined by an emotional response to an image. She layers paints on canvas, and keeps layering until thin areas filter through much bolder, thicker paint strokes. The hard edge clean lines are juxtaposed next to more organic areas, and then pull the painting together by creating a rhythmical lacey effect over the primary format. "I enjoy looking at the work of photographers and illustrators”, she said, “and I have an aesthetic response to everything and will always find in interesting unexpected places. My childhood connected me to aesthetics.”
“I visited construction sites with my architect father, looked at angles and nature, natural forests and manicured gardens, villages growing out of mountain facades with the washing drying in the wind. I saw pot plants placed on a wall in rural communities as special and looked at the layout of farmland as if it were a painting. The lyrical construction of tin shacks in various colours, against the roadside, in informal settlements impresses me and again I hold onto the resilience of the community. I relish in carpet designs, kilim and dhurrie rugs and textiles."
"As a child the forest at the bottom of my garden seemed to symbolise the essence of nature in an urban context. My most recent work has plugged into this primary experience and my paintings have been born from an inner response to the root, the trunk and the branches of trees. However rather than work from the generic concept of a tree, I have been more specific in accessing the soul of particular kinds of trees. Referring to the ancient Celtic symbolism that was used as an alphabet, I have brought into existence personal metaphors for the feelings associated with those trees. Thus, each painting evokes a specific mood that connotes that kind of tree," concludes Kotzen.
For more information, log onto www.philippagraff.co.za