We chat with Kerry Michau, a South African artist with a love of Cubism and Africa about her background, her career and her ever evolving portfolio of work.
Since before I can remember painting and drawing were always my favourite thing to do.
When we had done homework and were allowed to go and play all I wanted to do was paint and draw.
One of my oldest memories is doing the colouring competitions with my dad that came in the Sunday paper.
Naturally when it came to me deciding what to study after school fine art was one of my options, the others were graphic design, fashion design, interior design, I am so obsessed with all elements of design.
I did eventually settle on Fine art as painting really is my first love. I studied Fine Art at the University of Stellenbosch.
It was at Stellenbosch where I chose to focus on drawing and painting, particularly watercolour painting.
I became focused on painting abstracted miniature landscapes.
I say abstracted as they weren’t devoid of subject, they were always depictions of African landscapes, inspired by our seasons and weather patterns.
The idea of the miniature was to portray the landscape like a film strip with snippets of the storm, sunrise, sunset etc.
There is always a horizon in my abstracted miniatures, usually a reflection of trees on water, or light filtering through trees, or the sun setting at sea. These are bright, bold and contemporary breaking away completely from watercolour’s safe and traditional reputation.
Having spoken about my love of painting contemporary watercolours, I am equally passionate about my modern botanicals that I paint.
These are usually, but not strictly indigenous plants to Africa. The Strelitzia Nicolai and Erythrina being two of my absolute favourites.
I usually choose the bold almost structural shaped plants and flowers to portray.
My husband and I were blessed to spend 10 years working in the Sabi Sand Private Game Reserve, so here I also began painting wildlife in a kind of portrait style.
These are also watercolours and explore a completely different avenue.
At the moment I have moved onto big oils 1.5 x 1m and bigger. These are a series of tropical paintings inspired by my absolute love of where we live in KZN and the beach.
Here drawing on my botanical skills but in a bold fun way translating them into ways that hopefully transport you to a fantastical tropical land. One of my favourites in this series is ‘Among the wild things’ (which I will send an image of) I could get lost in this image for hours, a magical tropical jungle where the imagination runs wild.
Most artists stick to one style or genre, which makes their work instantly recognisable.
I however, for better or worse, am not wired that way.
I need to constantly keep challenging myself to push myself further in developing as an artist and thus work in many styles and mediums.
I usually have a number of paintings in progress at given time and switch between them giving myself fresh eyes constantly.
I have been and still am hugely influenced and inspired by Picasso.
His ability to have worked so prolifically and successfully in so many different genre’s is an absolute inspiration to me. Whether it was his Blue, Rose or Cubist period, his work in the neoclassical style with elements of surrealism he was so successful in all of these stages of his work.
I can only hope that in time I begin to master some of my styles that I work in.
For artists just starting out I would say that you need to be incredibly passionate and dedicated to your craft.
It’s an amazingly inspiring career path to follow, but it is extremely difficult at times, so you need to work incredibly hard.
The critics are harsh, so you also need to believe in yourself 100% and have a thick skin, something I still have to remind myself of – but if you believe in yourself you are on your way, sky is really the limit to what you can achieve as an artist.
To view more works by Kerry and to make contact with her simply click on the icon below to be directed to her Instagram Profile.