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A conversation with Guy Thesen

Cape Palette View from front

It is always interesting to learn more about our artists and to get to know them better. This week we talked to Guy Thesen one of our local artists in Knysna.

Where are you from and how does that affect your work?

 I have always been fascinated with the rich archaeology of the area, its deep human history as evidenced from diggings at cave sites such as Blombos and Pinnacle point, to name but a few. The abundance of San/bushman paintings are also a major influence and inspiration for my work, with their organic free flowing form and symbolic use of colour and imagery.

Tell me about your favourite medium.

 I love working in many mediums, but the three main ones are sculpture, (mostly bronze and less often wood), printmaking, (coloured woodcuts) and painting, (using acrylic). Inspiration comes firstly from the external natural world but I'm now more interested in the rich inner world of dreams, ideas and the subconscious symbols associated within spiritual literature and philosophy.

When is your favorite time of day to create?

 I like to read at night and keep a piece of paper at hand to scribble down any and all ideas, no matter how faint or trivial, all of which I keep in an ever-growing file titled ' ideas'. I enjoy painting in a process driven way without knowing the end result.

Describe how art is important to society.

 I feel visual artists hold up a mirror to society and make images that best reflect the cultural times and philosophy, some artists do this far more honestly than most, who often get understandably caught up in market forces or social consensus reality. I'm in a privileged position to try and make works that come from my small inner voice or aspirational ideal, looking for an absolute truth or beauty beyond the prosaic. This does come with societal and financial risks as well as alienation and being ignored. 

What motivates you to create?

 I have a home studio which I work in daily and so long as there is natural sunlight and I like listening to ambient music on Sound Cloud when I work. I drink only three cups of coffee a day and our cat does not have to ask before coming into my studio.

How do you define success as an artist?

 For me to try and describe what a successful artist is, I'd say they'd have the ability to look back on their career at the end of their lives and say they created what they truly believed in with integrity and honesty.
We have some beautiful art works by Guy Thesen available in our gallery, to view online click here or view them at our gallery.

View more of Guy Thesen's work

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