Goodman Gallery presents a series of new paintings by Cape Town-based artist Marsi van de Heuvel, titled Skoonveld - an Afrikaans word selected by the artist for its implied study of the act of disappearing. For these works, the malleable medium of paint is deployed to explore the act of fading as part of the artist’s broader interest in what it means to belong to a place, to a family and to a particular culture.
Applying the word “skoonveld” to the systematic historical erasure of the culture of a diverse group of people whom the apartheid government labelled “coloured”, the artist explores this erasure through her discovery of family photographs that record their experiences living in Upington, Graaff Reinet and Umtata during this period in South Africa’s history:
I use the mediation of these photographs to bridge past to present, to feel out what resonates, what I connect with, what’s worth keeping and to preserve what needs to be re-imagined, reframed, restored, and repaired - van de Heuvel
Cropped compositions recreate ordinary scenes such as children at school, a father holding his young daughter and women dressed in their Sunday best. Inviting the viewer to recognise themselves, their own families and the legacy of identity in the absence of a formally recorded history. This painstaking reinterpretation and commemoration of these photographs explore the lives of her family members through the legacy of trauma caused by apartheid’s racial classifications and forced removals.
Marsi van de Heuvel’s (b. 1987, Cape Town) painting practice investigates a personal familial history as part of a broader reflection of the history of South Africa. Her work specifically explores themes related to place and the complexities around a shared sense of belonging. Van de Heuvel graduated with a Fine Art Diploma from the Ruth Prowse School of Art, Cape Town, in 2010.