Christiaan Conradie experiences and focuses on concrete spheres within the arts. He draws inspiration from the age-old pictorial techniques of Rubens and Rembrandt while borrowing from Cy Twombly’s abstraction and conceptual art. His pieces are interestingly diverse and multiple but they all share a common, unique denominator. There is no other Conradie. Inspired by the loose, fast and dynamic brushstrokes of Rubens, he picks up on the carnal and dionysian exuberance of the bodies, turning paint into an ode to the human body. As Rembrandt, he isolates living bodies to better capture them, and thus creating a disruption with his time. By doing so, he depicts a transfigured, almost overly alive human body and creates an intimate space of reflection within our complex world. Evident too are echoes from the works of Twombly through the superposition of multiple layers and textures, which resembles a calligraphic, covert staining of the working surface.
Conradie establishes a concrete dialogue between his favourite artists. He considers his work as a space where the opposite reunite. As he put an extreme patience and precision into the crafting of his works, he invites us to thoroughly examine his human characters and to enjoy the rational, measured side of his works. He paints these figures in silent and immovable spaces, calling for reflection. Yet, these impacting, hyper-realistic figures appear as dismembered, uncomplete, textured and sensitively rendered. Conradie points out the limits of the human body and its weaknesses. Through thorough research and painting, he re-creates personalities that embody time and flesh, bodies that are fragmented and dismembered and yet retain a vivid expression. His subjects are infinite beings that address the issue of age and death. Conradie plays with (a) temporality and frees his pieces from any contextualization whatsoever.
However, time is ‘felt’: it weighs. While the painted bodies, skin and objects highlight the weight of time, time comes to life through colours and textures. Conradie have clear views on what he wants to achieve and doesn’t rest until he finds the materials that he needs to awaken the emotions he likes. His art is thought as a bridge that unites two opposite worlds that, put together, convey vitality, reason and sensitivity. He uses oil, watercolour, objects and lights amongst other materials. He uses them as devices that allow him to transit between two worlds: the rational and the intuitive. It is precisely in these in-betweens where Christiaan’s creation takes place. His subjects are surrounded by unique, peculiar aesthetics. The paint breaks free from the linear and rational world through its own plasticity, textures and uncertain forms as well as through its irregularities and intensity, transporting one into the world of emotions. Dichotomous spaces are the essence of Conradie’s paintings.
Aged subjects, with folkloric components, serenity and violence, order and chaos, rationality and insanity, hope and despair, Christiaan plays a game of contradictions that yields a deep sense of vitality, supported by genuine and majestic aesthetic impressions. Christiaan is currently working on a series of works that result from his recent extended stay in Mexico. After living there for a little more than three years, he’s been drawing inspiration from the harsh confrontation of different realities he witnessed. Mexico captured his imagination aesthetically as much as it did emotionally. A new space came to life, both floral and bloody, both spiritual and down-to-earth. Conradie’s current proposal aims at finding a new meaning in the symbols, fragments and sensations of his Mexican stay while intending to adapt them into his work. Thanks to a spontaneous, seamless integration of Mexico into his art, Conradie provides us with powerful, brand new aesthetics and spaces.