Co-curated by Andrew Lamprecht and Monique du Preez
About ‘The Quiet’ & Kirsten Lilford
The seemingly normal veneer of white suburbia is peeled back in Kirsten Lilford’s first solo exhibition of oil paintings at Salon91 in Cape Town this October. Lilford, a recent graduate of the Michaelis School of Fine Art and 2011 recipient of the prestigious South African Society of Artists award for excellence in painting, takes everyday snapshots of family outings, domestic scenes and the suburban landscape and through her brush imparts an uncanny and slightly sinister tone to them.Her technically accomplished paintings echo the work of early nineteenth-century realists but she has already developed a unique style of her own that is at once naturalistic and also informed by contemporary painting practices. ‘The Quiet’ will impress with the beauty of her paintings as much as leave the viewer with questions about what each vignette from a seemingly ordinary life really signifies.
“My work is about trying to make sense of a reality, whether it is my own or someone else’s.” Images are vehicles. In Lilford’s paintings, her images speak not just about one family, but about the aspirations of a white middleclass South Africa as a whole. By using family photographs, Lilford allows a shift to occur from the private and the public. The original historical background of the photographic source no longer becomes important because the image is no longer a representation of a real world, but an interpretation of that world. Lilford’s subject and experience may be of the white middle-class in South Africa but her paintings are anything but sympathetic to that reality. The darkened painted spaces and isolation of figures in her landscape belie a privilege and vulnerability of such bourgeoisie ease. There is something inherently unremarkable about the homogeneity of white South African suburbia that Lilford has managed to identify as significant, even sinister, in her works. Her latest paintings take the figures into new contexts, which appear to be the artist’s way of distancing her subject from the trappings of their class, but her explorations only serve to reveal their identity again and again in new ways. Some of these works powerfully suggest the presence of a character by cleverly and deliberately omitting the figure from the composition. Lilford is currently completing her MFA at the University of Cape Town.
Selected Projects & Exhibitions: 2016 – Nano, group show at Barnard Gallery, Cape Town; Soil(ed) MFA exhibition, postgraduate collaboration with Michaelis School of Fine Art and the University of Pretoria; Group Collection, Otomys Art Gallery, Melbourne, Australia. 2015 – Cape Town Art Fair with Salon91; Surface, emerging painters at Barnard Gallery, Cape Town. 2014 – Distance at Salon91. 2013 – Small Canvas Project, The Benetton Collection, Venice, Italy. 2012 – The Quiet, solo exhibition at Salon91. 2011 – Sunday, graduate exhibition at Michaelis School of Fine Art, Cape Town. 2009 – Infecting the City, Cape Town Art Festival.
Awards: 2016 – National Research Fund (NRF); Oppenheimer Memorial Trust Award. 2015 – McIver Award.
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