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Q&A: Christiaan Conradie


South African-born Christiaan Conradie, who currently resides in Mexico, shares with HL his thoughts about his work, his favourite local artists and what his plans are for 2014. 1. Your work is incredibly emotive. What inspires you when you paint? I’d say that I’m mostly inspired by the desire for my work to resonate with the viewer in some profound way. To a large degree I try and recreate the types of emotions I felt when I first saw Jane Alexander’s 'Butcher Boys' or 'The Adoration of the Magi' by Rubens. Those are examples of works that, for me have a certain intangible presence that is difficult to explain. They connect with some part of us, a part that sits right at the essence of what it means to be a human being. 2. Which one of your paintings epitomises your aesthetic? That’s a difficult one to answer. My aesthetic is forever evolving and shifting from side to side. At the moment I’d probably have to say 'It’s So Simple In The Moonlight' (above), which portrays the tension that is created by things that are there and things that aren’t, or that are simply alluded to. I like how the viewer is encouraged to participate in ‘completing the picture’. 3. While you are South African, you are based predominantly in Mexico. Why did you decide to move overseas and in what way has it affected your works? I first decided to move to Mexico because of the art scene, the great waves, the Spanish language and a general desire to explore. Mexico City is a really exciting place for an artist to be at the moment. By virtue of its geography Mexico also feels more connected to the rest of the world. The United States is right next door and the whole of Central and South America is no more than a few hours away so the opportunity to work with artists and galleries from around the world is very real. 4. Do you consider your work to be controversial in any way? If so, why? If not, why not? I’d like to think that works that aren’t controversial are works that don’t propose anything, whether it be from a technical or conceptual point of view. So, yes I’d like to think of my work as controversial in the sense that it carries with it a degree of tension and confronts the viewer on some level. 5. Which local artists are you most excited about? I’m most excited by what my friend Ricky-Lee Gordon (Freddy Sam) is doing. He works with complete integrity, which is something that I value above anything else. He’s passionate about how art can change communities and I admire him for the way that he works and for what he’s managed to achieve without seeking recognition. His work comes from an honest place and to me that is fantastic. 6. What are you plans for 2014? I have a two-person show with Spanish photographer Andrea DoSouto in June and a solo show at the Celaya Brother’s Gallery, both in Mexico City in September. I’m also in the process of booking a show in San Francisco early next year, which is something I’ve always wanted to do, so I’m really excited for the year ahead. For more information about Christiaan or to view more of his work, visit christiaanconradie.com. Interviewed by Lindi Brownell Meiring