Passion. Diversity. Optimism. These are but a few of the words that art enthusiasts have used to describe Pretoria-born, South African artist Marleen Visser’s works. Indeed … any person who has had the pleasure of viewing her extensive collection will agree: the underlying theme is one of beauty. Beauty in the Creator, in the created … beauty expressed in a myriad of ways.
Marleen grew up in Pretoria, matriculating at the Pro Arte High School for Art, Ballet, music and Drama in 1979. She was the recipient of the prestigious Sanlam Child Awards in 1977. After matric she ventured into the graphic art and advertising world. As a freelance artist, Marleen was commissioned to do several artworks for public buildings and corporates, including two paintings which were reproduced for use in Sun International’s Airport Sun Hotel.
Exhibitions, Exposure and Experiences
Marleen’s first solo exhibition was held in 1987. Another three solo exhibitions followed, along with Marleen’s participation in numerous group exhibitions alongside other acclaimed artists. Galleries include the Aleta Mihaeletos Gallery, the gallery of the South African Association of Arts and the East London Art Museum, among others. In addition, Marleen’s work was featured in a book entitled “Contemporary Artists of Pretoria”. Radio and television interviews followed, along with publicity in a variety of magazines and other printed media. After lecturing in Art to adults for three years at the Hatfield Christian Training Centre, Marleen’s personal circumstances led her back to the commercial art field in 1995. She established the highly successful Blue Note Art Studio cc, which offers graphic design and illustration facilities In 1998, Marleen was featured in the Digital Imaging and Publishing magazine, after having been commissioned to produce two covers for this prestigious publication. She has since been specialising mainly in illustrating children’s books, working for most of the established publishers in South Africa. Having recently moved to Houtbay in Cape Town, she is now greatly inspired by the beauty of her new surroundings and discovering new galleries.
Marleen’s art and her faith are intertwined … her greatest desire is to share her relationship with her Creator, through her art. Inspired by the presence and character of God , she endeavours to express her experiences of His infinite wisdom. “We all need hope and faith, peace, courage , joy, honesty and truth. The challenge to me as an artist, is to encourage and inspire the beholder to become enlightened by the inherent messeges in my paintings. My work is a reflection in flowing lines and colour of the songs in my heart.”
Various aspects of nature versus the character of man: Solitary figures, the oceans and it’s life, trees and their different characters, soaring birds in flight etc. Marleen has a great love of scuba diving and sailing - exploring the ocean depths and therefore the sea features strongly in her work. The vastness of it, the power , the awe-inspiring sounds of rushing water, the movement, textures and colours stimulate all our senses . Solitary figures in her art portray man’s intimate, personal relationship with his Maker. Each person stands alone responsible for their own life. Other recurrent themes include birds and trees. The former signifies the soaring spirit; unfettered by human limitations in the eyes of God. The latter depicts life on earth … life which is nourished by the spirit, from root to tip. Realism is combined with surrealism. Aspiration is depicted, time and again, by soaring birds, trees reaching to the heavens, and figures stretching towards an unseen goal. Each presentation is subtle, pregnant with interpretation requiring more than mere superficial contemplation.
Marleen enjoys exploring different mediums. “Each medium seems to have a voice of its own,” she explains. “The colours and textures … each has a uniqueness and mood of its own. Who am I to favour only one and disregard the rest? There are far too many avenues along which to travel. While I don’t wish to confuse my audience, I enjoy the challenge of opening new worlds to people … I wholeheartedly invite them to travel with me!” Mediums used are watercolours, acrylics, oils, airbrushing, pastels, pencils, pens, a variety of mixed mediums and painting on computer (using a digitising pen).