JILL TRAPPLER at ASSOCIATION FOR VISUAL ARTS (AVA)
presents a solo exhibition of recent paintings
22 January to 10 February 2001
The Association for Visual Arts (AVA) at the Metropolitan Gallery, 35 Church Street, Cape Town, is hosting a one-person exhibition of recent paintings, “Breath”, by Cape Town artist and art educator, JILL TRAPPLER, in all three AVA gallery spaces. The exhibition opens on Monday, 22 January at 6pm and runs until noon on Saturday, 10 February 2001.
JILL TRAPPLER, in this exhibition, focuses once again on the non-figurative in her paintings. This has been her chief area of artistic output in recent years. She has chosen to be free of the burden of representation, of the material. Her concern is with pure colour, form, surface, texture and how these integrate, resulting in composition, structure and the use of space on the canvas or the paper. Her work is never ‘easy’. There is never a simple ‘explanation’ or a ‘message’ or an ‘issue’. There is no attempt at didacticism or the reduction of the artwork to a commodity, no attempt to serve ‘the market’; rather it is for her about beauty, seeing “the wholeness of eternity, beauty, usually unexpected, yet sought after. It finds your heart and your guts, it is breathtaking, abrupt, exhilarating, so fierce, so true that you wonder if you can bear it, but it is in the pattern of things, waiting to visit, in time. Then it is true. So, I try to find moments of this with colour, because it is in life.”
On this exhibition the main series of paintings is entitled “Breath” and is characterized by the colour yellow, immediately reminiscent of light, sunshine, pollen, the life force, nature and energy. It happened as follows: TRAPPLER was traveling on a train on her way to an appointment in a gallery in Switzerland in spring last year and the countryside was full of strong colour, yellow from the kolza or rape seed plant. The brightness and clarity ‘of the landscape fascinated her and she experienced a brilliance that seemed almost artificial – the fields of yellow edged with the blue of the sky or the green on the trees and the red of the daffodils? The buildings and the rivers and train-lines were not important or new, it was the surprise or revelation “ that she wanted to paint, “to copy the sense of marvel that she felt from the colour”.
She went into the gallery and was introduced to an old computer across the screen of which walked a little man with a beret and a smile facing her behind his easel, (a studio picture). She typed in her name, Jill, and he began to paint. A short time passed and then the computer printer started pushing out an image. It was a rectangle of pure yellow! The gallery assistant told TRAPPLER that she could keep the image, but he asked to see it first. It turned out that in twelve years he had never seen a single colour image printed out of that computer studio! Could the computer have read her thoughts on the train through her fingers? She returned home and began the series, finding her way into those fields of sun, warmth, slippery gold, and letting the paintings take her where they wanted to go, growing with their own life through obedience, abundance, evidence, essence to breath.
‘Breath’ is the title of the exhibition and “Brand New Day” the image on the invitation – “the brand new day that always comes, yet needs to be sought and celebrated, internally constructed as a calendar.” The “Jetty” series is yet another component of this exhibition, jetty as in “the crossing from earth to water and water to earth, from conscious to unconscious – bridging”, bridges. Dr David Trappler, Jill’s husband, said, in a previous catalogue, of her work: “ For Jill, the canvas is an arena where the conflict between conscious and unconscious processes assert themselves and are resolved in a specific way, reflecting the unique authorship of its creator, yet carrying transpersonal value and therefore belonging to the collective. It is about building bridges internally and with others. It is about a certain kind of containment through linkages and interconnectedness.” *
The artist, TRAPPLER: “I see that I follow my heart and that an experience speaks to me and I move with it. It changes direction and finds a place, but it is in this relationship that I work best. That is why relationships generally are important……….I am not so anxious now about the need for explanations and metaphors. The intellectual is in the experience as much as the looking, sensing, physical. Again, I am not interested in the reference to the object, but in the experience of the object. So, a cup is interesting because I want to describe its inner surface and the space that it occupies. Then there is a cup. This requires intuition and comes in a language understood by the eye and the hand and the whole experience. It is actual and the evidence is there. It will be felt in the work – a becoming of a presence. A painting must have presence. If not, it is not finished or needs to be put aside for a while until you are ready to bring a possible presence to it. This is essentially a natural process, an equilibrium, to be aware of inner space as well as outer space
The initial impulse, the new canvas, a space, on the field and an internal space that I can wander in, venture in, find new beginnings. An open-air existence fed by close associations with nature, although this always remains indirect. It is like the boundaries, the containment that is necessary for this exploration, which, of course, is linked to memory, one’s own patterns which are interwoven with others. Newness and memory, past and present, again inextricable. They make each other possible.
I don’t think that I describe anything with my various mark making. Rather I try to create direction, awareness, so that the eye can move and inform. This is like life, it vibrates, pulsates, each gesture like an affirmation or perhaps a reflection, a response. I think that if enough care is taken, the mark and the doing are not arbitrary, but can become attuned to the order of the world, the cosmos.
I seem to continuously go between the great and the small, the eternal and the everyday, the inner life and the dish-washing, and it all belongs. There is a quest for unity, for a common language, an undercurrent – a need to communicate. I seek the human spirit, the human being in each of us perhaps.
Eternal/particular, general/specific, to and fro, back and forth – the rhythm that I want to be a part of… Like music, paintings unfold gradually if they have life. It is of doing and being, it is all real and present, yet ongoing.”
Born in Benoni, South Africa, in 1957, TRAPPLER studied art with Bill Ainslie at the Johannesburg Art Foundation and through UNISA. A weaver by profession, she has spent her adult life teaching Drawing and Painting in a variety of institutions ranging from FUBA and CAP to Baragwanath Hospital, as well as from a ship and at home.
She initiated and facilitated the formation of craft, printing and weaving employment projects for women in Crossroads and Khayelitsha, as well as the papier mache project for Wola Nani. For many years she served as the administrator of the Thupelo Workshops, regional and international, many of which she facilitated and co-ordinated. Currently, she is a trustee of Thupelo. She also founded the Dorman Street Art Studio, the Valkenberg Studios and later the Greatmore Street Studios in Woodstock, of which she is a trustee.
Since 1996 she has served on the committee of AVA as vice-chairperson and Artreach convenor, and as chair since 2000. In 2000 she was invited to lecture at the Summer and Winter Schools of the University of Cape Town, repeated in 2001.
TRAPPLER began exhibiting in the late 1970s on group and Thupelo exhibitions in South Africa and abroad, in Germany, France, New York, Australia, Uganda, Luxembourg and Switzerland. She has held five one-person exhibitions. This will be her sixth. Her work is represented in numerous private collections around the world and in a variety of public and corporate art collections locally, including those of the South African National Gallery, the SABC, Investec and Vodacom.
She lives and works as a full-time professional artist in Cape Town.
The exhibition closes on Saturday, 10 February 2001 at noon.
Gallery hours: weekdays: 10h00 to 17h00. Saturdays: 10h00 to 13h00.