Chrisel Attewell | Series | Interrogating The Surface2019-10-03T14:02:51+00:00


Chrisél Attewell

Interrogating The Surface, 2016

Chrisél Attewell

Interrogating the surface is a body of work in which I deal with the experience of catharsis through the analysis of the painted surface. The painting process allows for a direct and intimate relationship between artist and artwork. In my painting process, the layers of paint serve as an outlet of emotion. In an attempt to make sense of the emotions felt at the time, I map and analyse the expressive marks through cutting into the surface of the paint. Through doing this, I am not only interrogating the surface of the paint, but I am also interrogating the surface of the mind – as the marks applied to the surface of the canvass, become a memory of the state of the mind of the artist when they painted the work.”

“Drawing from theorists like human physiologist Prof V. Gallese, art historian D. Freedberg, and neurologist Dr V. S. Ramachandran, this body of work explores how the mirror neuron system and embodied simulation constitute the empathetic engagement that a viewer has with a work of art. The theory of mirror neurons can explain how the effect that art has on its viewer, has a precise and material location in the brain.”

“I find this empathetic engagement manifesting in myself when I am walking through the city of Johannesburg.  I draw inspiration from the textures and colours found in the decay of structures, in the cryptic messages from torn and faded posters and graffiti and in the constant flux of the city. I am fascinated by the layers of hidden histories and secrets that the city holds in the walls of deteriorating buildings, on the concrete floors, and underneath the many bridges where people leave their mark on a daily basis. In this fluent urban context, renewal and erosion are concurrent themes in my artistic practice.”

“In this body of work, I aim to convey this embodied feeling that I get from these layered surfaces to the viewer.  My process involves both creation and destruction.  Many of the paintings are comprised of multiple layers of paint to recall fragments of my mem ory surrounding the urban environment of my daily routines. The building up and scraping down process used in the painting is intended to represent the constant cycle of construction and demolition of the city.”