Standing in front of any of Elize Vossgatter’s paintings, you feel your hand reaching out at once. The vast and intricate microcosm to be found in each valley and plateau draw you in even further. Suddenly, you find yourself so close that you start to merge with the painting.
Each carving motion reveals topographies wholly charged with layers of time. Sediments of our history as humans within this increasingly non-organic, non-natural, non-Earth divulge in every crevice of the painting’s surface. The deeper one peers into these valleys, the more monumental everything starts to feel.
Vossgatter’s paintings indulge in the ambiguity of scale. At once, we are displaced. It is unclear whether we are standing above it all or perhaps cowering from below like ants. Unsure of whether we are looking through a microscope, or are ourselves microscopic, our insignificance is reiterated. In actual fact, it doesn’t really matter where we are or what we’re looking at. This painting, along with the trees across the road, and we will all be returned to dust.
Vossgatter’s harmony through mark-making
Vossgatter’s visceral marks spur from the ridiculousness of humans within the world’s now monodiverse ecosystem; one which we have continuously wallowed in. In an attempt to subvert this, every mark the artist makes becomes a practice in intuition. Each exertion of energy within the mark-making is grounded in what has come before. This exercise in the trust is ultimately a testimony to her progression of becoming more in harmony with herself as well as her surroundings. In this way, every painting becomes synchronous by hidden default.
By fully trusting her life’s work of expanding her intuition through research, Vosgatter is free to nosedive into the creation of her paintings. It is this informed falling which allows her to swiftly shift through time and positionality. She can at once take the position of the tree across the road without it being disingenuous. This is the product of her stringent methodology of finding common ground with what, historically, we have deemed unfathomable to stand next to.
For every push, there is a pull. Vossgatter’s work seesaws between dualities of synthetic/organic, human/nonhuman, large/small, and permanent/impermanent. Situated between each of these polarities, the seeming chaos never appears chaotic. This forms part of Vossgatter’s continual and expanding imperative of finding balance with nature within the increasingly reluctant human condition.
Methodology of impermanence
By using beeswax as a primary medium, Vossgatter’s methodology again touches upon aspects of time and impermanence. Every delicate scratch, indentation, and trace can be melted away, never to be found again. Through the oscillation of becoming and unbecoming, the DNA of each painting is linked to one another. Every fragment scratched away will find its way into the next one, expanding the genealogy in each cycle.
The fabric of language also plays an inherent role in Vossgatter’s paintings. Regardless of the process, ultimately, all the paintings understand each other. Applying this concept to the human condition in relation to the natural world may be easier than one thinks. Perhaps, all there’s left to do is to look at the tree standing across the road.
Written by Monique du Plessis