Artwork by Adele van Heerden

Artwork by Adele van Heerden

Nature is at the heart of our psychological and physical well-being, and my work has increasingly engaged with our connection to (and disconnection from) the natural landscape as we live through the Anthropocene, an age in which humans are having a significant effect on Earth’s ecosystems, most notably the climate and environment. It has made me deeply aware of how vital being in touch with nature is to being human; as urbanisation intensifies, so does our need for natural spaces and ways to connect to the environment and each other.

I feel compelled to paint what I see in my daily life and travels. I explore environments, camera in hand, to discover and document them, especially human-made spaces and built environments that work in symbiosis or in juxtaposition with the natural world. My subject matter therefore predominantly centres around urban, natural landscapes and interior scenes. On returning to the studio, I draw and paint these images based on photographs I've taken, onto the front and back of translucent drafting film – a technique of reverse-painting I developed myself. Once I have an idea for an image or painting in my mind there is a sense of urgency to get it down in physical form, in mixed media painting and drawing. I see my work as an act of existential meaning-making, artistic research and meditative practise. My goal is to capture a specific moment in time, to freeze it and give shape to the experience. I make use of images and ideas to reimagine my own life experiences.

I was born in Cape Town, South Africa, where I now live and work. After graduating with a degree in Fine Arts from the Ruth Prowse School of Art in 2010, I continued my studies at the University of South Africa, obtaining a BA in History and Politics. In 2015, I graduated from the University of Cape Town with an Honours Degree in Curatorship. I am thus able to bring together ideas from my undergraduate fields of study – fine arts and history/politics/art history – in my fine arts practice. After my studies I was curator of a gallery, which I left in 2018 to pursue my fine arts practise full-time.

Recent solo exhibitions include Inside/Outside at 131 A Gallery (Cape Town, 2021), Field Trip at David Krut Projects (Johannesburg, 2022) and In Memoriam at AVA Gallery (Cape Town, (2018). My work has been included in group exhibitions at Gallery MOMO (Cape Town), Academie Galerie (Munich), Reshape 22: Future Art Histories (Latidudes Online), Lizamore & Associates (Johannesburg), Salon 91 (Cape Town), Gallery 2 (Johannesburg) and 99 Loop Gallery (Cape Town). I have been a member of the Arts Association of Bellville (2018–2019) and the Friends of the Iziko National Gallery (2019–2023).

In 2023 I was selected as one of the ART.CO.ZA Artists to Watch. Other accolades include two silver medals for the SA Wine and Beer Label Awards (2021, 2022) for illustration projects, and being a finalist for the StateoftheArt Gallery Award (2019). I have completed residencies at Cité Internationale des Arts Paris (2020, 2023) and David Krut Projects in Johannesburg (2021).

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