Marlise Keith [1971 -] | Cape Town, South Africa
Marlise Keith’s style is identifiable in her idiosyncratic use of personal symbolism in a diverse body of work. Her wonderfully varied viewpoints are drawn from vast subject matter, including a personal medley of horrific news headlines, roadside memorials, colonial history, psychopathology, girlhood memories, dreams, friends’ dogs, Pinterest and her persistent, chronic migraines.
The result is a richly layered body of work both violent and uncanny, surreal with a playful use of colour and humour. The latter draws in the viewer to a closer scrutiny of the darker complexities lurking beneath, which offer endless possibilities of meaning.
Questions of value are often explored through Keith’s choice of media, typically mixed media collage, large-scale drawings in pencil, ink and acrylics, and small sculptures of fabric, embroidery and found objects. In her assemblages she juxtaposes media of varying value to create creatures that seem to emerge directly from her self-labelled mental “soup”, creatures that are in equal parts cute, hideous, dark and witty.
Keith refers to all her creations, simply, as drawings. In some ways, the act of drawing is a coping mechanism for Keith. Subjects too daunting, too horrifying, too confusing or too subliminal to articulate in neat words are processed through mark-making; offering an alternative understanding of a world that often does not make sense in logical language. Even art itself – a subject known to intimidate with its elitism and loftiness – becomes more manageable through mark-making.
Marlise Keith (b. 1972) is an award-winning artist with a list of accolades including 11 solo shows, numerous group exhibitions and a residency in Paris. She received a BA degree in Fine Arts at the University of Pretoria (1995) and completed her Master’s Degree in Fine arts at the University of Stellenbosch in 2000.