Eugenie Marais

‘... I’m selling uncertainty, emptiness, anticipation and the nostalgia of the now...”

Eugenie Marais was born in the Western Cape and after completing her degree at the University of the North West moved to Pretoria where she now lives. She has been a full time artist since 2003.

Eugenie Marais has participated in numerous group exhibitions and has had three solo exhibitions, the latest of which was at the University of North West, titled “Something Happened”.

Marais is interested in nostalgia, escapism and art as a form of meditation. Her take on these ideas is not one of sweet fantasies of a 1950’s cola ad or of crystals and fairies. Eugenie Marais references are more immediate, lonelier and slightly alienated. In her paintings she focuses on barely opened windows, plug sockets, the railing on the side of a unremarkable stretch of road. There is an emptiness and quiet in her images. “I am trying to get an emotion from the viewer that is almost a lonely emotion”, that sense of being that one has in between doing things or moving from one place to the next. "There are never people in my work, but there are lots of cars driving away...”

Marais adds “Emptiness is reflection of reality. My street scenes and still lives speak of expectation or moments that have or are about to happen”. Marais portrays the scenes between events, like the memory of someone left behind. The viewer has to pull on their own resources to see what is there and what is not. It is up to the viewer to make their own adjustments. Marais manages to balance a almost cold eye with an invitation to step into your own intimacy.

Eugenie Marais explains “I portray the emptiness through the choice of subject matter and the sparse use of my medium”. In the three lithographs of a dog (a fox terrier which belongs to her parents in law, a family pet) she also plays with titles. “Almost true” “Yesterday’s favorite”, “What about love?”, there is no real connection between the work and the title. Marais is playing with what your eyes see and what the text evokes emotionally. She aims to unsettle the viewer. “Fox Terrier I, II, and III” would just not have the same impact. For each person the connection with the word and image is different.

Marais prefers to use a small intimate format for her work and aims to make images that trigger personal memories for the viewer.

Text:  The Artists' Press