WORDS Amelia Brown
How did you develop your technique and style?
I began sketching at a very young age. I drew things that fascinated me like helicopters, planes, tractors, people, etc. The more I sketched the more I could make sense of the world around me.
How do you choose your subject matter?
It was never a conscious choice – the subject matter just seemed to find me as it resonated with my emotional landscape at the time.
Is there symbolism in the compositions?
I understand symbolism to be the unrelated relevance between opposite things. Painting is burdened with a kind of flatness and in there I try to create scale and place.
What are you inspired by?
I am inspired by things around me that have nothing to do with art per se. I seem to have a kind of internal camera that captures my experiences, even those that may seem unimportant or trivial to other people. In a chaotic place, it enables me to find a sense of order.
If you weren’t an artist, what would you be?
I recall that someone said that no one becomes an artist because you want to – you become an artist because you have to. I’m dyslexic and never excelled at school; actually I found it quite traumatic and often thought at the time that I would never amount to much. But when I am painting I feel competent, so it was a no-brainer really. To answer the question: a fighter pilot. Obviously.
What time of day do you prefer to work?
I work throughout the day and spend a solid 9am – 5pm at the studio. Even when I am not there it is difficult to switch off my gaze, so I feel as if I am constantly processing whether I’m working or not.
If you could collaborate with any South African artist who would it be?
I’d like to collaborate with someone in a completely different discipline, rather than a fellow artist, as I believe that that would give me a different perspective. Filmmaking, music and poetry all contribute to my interpretation of the world.
The last time you travelled, what did you buy, where and why?
I bought some Bovril as a medium to paint with because it was all that was available at the time!
Are you on Instagram?
Yes, @mj.lourens. I appreciate the wealth of imagery that is so readily available; it captivates but depresses me at the same time.
Highlight of your career?
I am still waiting for that “highlight”, but I feel blessed that I had an amazing art teacher at a terrible school that made me believe in art and in myself.
What’s next for MJ Lourens?
I like to live in the moment and find it difficult to plan. Ideally, I’d like to branch out into filmmaking and maybe getting back to my roots as a sculptor.