PART SIX

LITTLE GIRL WITH A BRAVE HEART

Written by Shankar Puri
"Leonie wonders back to her seat and I follow, along with her two dogs. “When we look at a sunrise or a sunset, there is something in us that sings. There is, must be, something bigger..."

Here’s the sixth part of the story

I want to learn more about abstract art and specifically, Leonie’s methods, so I move on to asking her about her processes. “I experiment a lot. I combine things that I shouldn’t to see if it works. What I do is very experimental. That’s how I discovered encaustic painting, through experimenting with hot wax and resin.” There’s definitely a freedom about her paintings, a flow that reminds of waves breaking at the shoreline. I ask her if all of her works are experimental.

“There are certain rules, elements of design that you need to take into account that makes a better painting that I learnt at Varsity, but you have to be willing to break the rules and to know why you want to break the rules.” Leonie stands up and leads me to a series of unfinished paintings resting on a long, paint-stained table. “At the moment, I am trying to combine abstract with human figures – again, some experimental stuff.”

The large painting that now stands behind us is not to be ignored, despite being unfinished. It cradles you in giant, resplendent hands and swallows you up in one, swift, biblical gulp. Leonie catches me marvelling at it and I comment on the religious connotations that weave themselves between the figures she’s painted.

“If you can’t hold on to yourself, you have to hold on to something. We all know that there is something bigger than us. Look at the intricacy of how we are made, our fingertips for example. We cannot recreate out of nothing. Look at every person who is uniquely individual.” Leonie wonders back to her seat and I follow, along with her two dogs. “When we look at a sunrise or a sunset, there is something in us that sings. There is, must be, something bigger…”

I agree to that, not blindly giving in to her opinion but rather embracing what she says in wonderment. Here is someone, who despite everything that has happened to her, still holds faith dear to heart. But religion isn’t the only influence in her work, so I ask if there are any other influences.

“I love the works of Van Gogh. He had a desire for more. He never got to it though, he was very suicidal but there is such a desire for life in his work. Michelangelo had some unfinished figures in Florence, I remember seeing them and they made me cry, these figures trapped in rock that he was still chiselling away before he died.” We talk for a moment about inspiration and how, in the art world, it can be misconstrued as plagiarism when really, it is about being shaped by your own interpretation of other artists’ work.

LITTLE GIRL WITH A BRAVE HEART

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