The Signature Of All Things – Willemien de Villiers



Last week was the opening of an inspiring exhibition by artist, Willemien de Villiers (Note: expect a certain level of biased opinions in this post as Willemien is my mom…) – even though I was aware of the level of preparation that went into this exhibition and what lead to this point in her artistic career, I was blown away by the creations that lay before me as I entered the gallery.

Until mid September, the Mogalakwena Gallery in Church Street, Cape Town is home to Willemien’s incredibly detailed paintings, embroideries, and assemblages. All hand-made, these are more than works of art, they take you on a journey – a journey of questioning, discovery, science, biology, passion, and will without a doubt, make you question if you are adequately using the hours in your day to serve your passion.

“Everything is connected” – this sentence comes up in my mind when I think of her work and her journey. One thing leading onto the next, each layer of each painting creating one final piece, each thread is connected to create the interwoven embroideries, and  how each person becomes connected to her, and to their own purpose, when staring, in awe, at these mesmerising creations.

There is a definite theme for me, and that is LIFE.

Science and biology have a strong presence in the imagery, and together with images of birds, women, fertility, and flowers, I couldn’t help but feel a sense of an abundance of life, and the pure magic of it all. From afar the paintings, embroideries and assemblages come across as either “organised chaos” or “absolute clarity”, but when inspecting them up close, one sees the meticulous detail that adds to the “bigger picture”. Much like life, from afar, we are just people living our lives, but look closer and the beautiful, unique details are revealed.

Her work inspires, motivates, and moves me, and I am proud and honoured to be witness to the work, creations, and journey of such a remarkable woman.

“My work reflects on the physical and metaphysical processes of decay and disintegration, and the inevitable new growth – integration – that follows. The ever-evolving molecular patterns that emerge as a result of this biological degradation inspire me. Despite the apparent busy-ness of my work’s multi-layered and often dense patterning, I hope to capture similar moments of contemplative silence for the viewer to explore – among other, more personal concerns – the transitory quality of living organisms.

I relish the patience making my work demands: stitching, knitting, cutting, folding, knotting, or layered painting. I work from a place of not-knowing – there is no beginning and no end. While working I often enter an altered mental state where the boundary between the natural world and myself blurs, and becomes a meditation on the shared memory of all things.” – Willemien de Villiers

Below are a few photos I took from the exhibition opening, but please do have a look at Willemien’s website here for more of her work, her story, and how it all connects…

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