Colijn Strydom • I’d prefer the images I make to raise questions rather than give answers.

Colijn Strydom • I’d prefer the images I make to raise questions rather than give answers.

Colijn Strydom • I’d prefer the images I make to raise questions rather than give answers.

When did you know you were going to be an artist?

My earliest memories are of drawing, the idea of being an artist is something that has always been with me. I considered other careers but never got excited about them. I kept going after what I enjoyed and eventually found myself being an artist. I’m still a bit surprised.

How do you start your creative process?

I always keep a notebook jotting down ideas, quotes, that sort of thing. Usually one idea keeps recurring, or a few things are spiralling around one focal point. That becomes the focus for a series of paintings or drawings.

Next comes research (both text and visual) and whilst doing that I often play with small compositional drawings. Once the actual work starts, things shift into a different gear where the paintings “talk back”, and the work takes on its own life.

What messages or emotions would you like to convey?

I’d prefer the images I make to raise questions rather than give answers. It’s important to me to think in a visual language as opposed to a verbal one, the sense/feeling of the painting remains visual and should ideally not be easily distilled into text. Each phase or work has its own emotional pitch.

Do you draw inspiration from anything in particular?

Music has always been a huge influence (I often think of painting in musical terms). I do look at a lot of art, and am very interested in the history of painting. 

Watch this clip on Colijn's Instagram, click here.

Does living in Cape Town and/or South Africa have any influence on your work? 

Absolutely – I try to respond to what I see around me and to bring in my own positionality. My most recent solo revolved around the figure of David Beresford Pratt, who attempted to assassinate H.F. Verwoerd. He was a fascinating person who struggled with his own conscience as well as epilepsy. I found him to be, for me as a white man, a particularly poignant person to reflect on.

What influence does modern culture have on your work?

The way we see things now, in this image-saturated time, is unlike any time before. I try to reflect that by putting unexpected things together in ways that I find interesting.

Do you need solitude to work?

Yes I do. Sometimes there are parts of a painting which are easier, and then I can have company but if I really have to think it’s better if I’m by myself. It’s also less embarrassing for me if no-one sees me when things aren’t going my way!

What's your favourite title of an artwork?

One of my favourite painters is Allesandro Pessoli, and he has a work titled “Gesù che brucia tra i limoni”, which translates as “Christ suffering among lemons”. I like it because it is sad and funny, banal and heroic.