Interview: Artist Adéle du Plessis

Adéle du Plessis (1969) is an accomplished contemporary artist. She works in a diverse series of mediums. She oscillates between painting figurative art, with quilting and exploring how the materials that make art can be the subject of the art. Often all these elements are incorporated into mixed media pieces. The interview was done in Afrikaans. The interview is translated into English, with the original Afrikaans in italic underneath the English translation.

Her solo show

"The forms of everyday life: material and abstraction"– curated by Art Historian Finizia Taddeo

opens 6 March 2022 at 12:00 at Gallery Sorelle Sciarone on the Lange Tiendeweg 68, 2801KK Gouda.

You are welcome to attend the opening.

Interview: Artist Adéle du Plessis

Who? Adéle du Plessis

What? Artists

When? Early Twenty First Century

Where? The Netherlands/South Africa

Why? Solo Exhibition "The forms of everyday life: material and abstraction"– Adéle du Plessis curated by Art Historian Finizia Taddeo

Artist: Adéle du Plessis in front of her Tempera pieces from her series: Drawn at Home at Art Laren in 2021.

Artist: Adéle du Plessis in front of her Tempera pieces from her series: Drawn at Home at Art Laren in 2021.

South African Artist in The Netherlands

1.     Please tell us something about yourself.

In my opinion, not much to tell about my life. I have to do and do like everyone else, but always on the outlook that can find what is hidden in the obvious and of course, I am addicted to process even if it is mostly repetition, the hope THAT THERE A SMALL PARADIGM SHIFT WILL TAKE PLACE.


IF YOU MEAN HOW IT IS IN THE MATERIAL WORLD? I am married with six children and two grandchildren and am always busy with compositions, cooking in life and art.



Vertel iets oor jouself.

Volgens my nie veel te vertel nie, my lewe het sy doen en late soos alle andere, maar altyd op de uitkyke wat ek kan vind wat verskuil staan in die voorhandliggende en natuurlik is ek verslaaf aan proses al is dit meestal 'n herhaling, in die hoop DAT DAAR OOIT KLEIN PARADIGMA VERSKUIWINGS PLAASVIND.

AS JY BEDOEL HOE STAAN DIT IN DIE materiele wereld eks getroud met ses kinder en twee kleinkinders en is altyd besig met samestellinge,in lewe kook en kuns.


2.     How did you get into what you do right now? Please tell us more about your journey.

I think it is inevitable to say that anyone's art is the starting point with mud play or any redistribution of items. Mine was mud, obviously. Furthermore, I was able to draw well from an early age. We used to have drawing competitions between friends and me. It was a vicious point of contention because I would obviously win, in my eyes then.

But the cupid's arrow for me and art was a booklet of the blue rider in a book collection that stood in a trivial place in an outhouse, probably from the house's previous owners (EN: Blauwe Ruiter is part of Vasily Kandinsky's manifest of abstract art and the fourth dimension). I was amazed because up until this point, art was just drawing, and painting at school, fashion drawings and creating dioramas of houses with mud and grass.




Hoe het jy as kunstenaar begin? Vertel ons meer oor jou journey na vandag.

Ek dink dis onvermydelik om te se dat enige een se kuns beginpunt is met modderspeel of enige herverdeling van items is. Myne was modder uiteraard. Verder het ek al van vroeg af goed kon teken en op n venynigepunt tekenkompetiesies tussen my en vriende bedag want ek sou uiteraard wen,in my oe dan.

Maar wat die cupid arrow slag was is n boekie van de blauwe ruiter in n boekversameling wat op n onbenullige plek gestaan het in n buitehuis, waarskynlik van die vorige eienaars van die huis. Ek was verwonderd want tot toe was dit net teken en verf op skool ,modeleer en skuilings met lang afrika gras bou.


3.     Who are your role models?

First, it was my mother. She always drew the most beautiful pictures on the covers of our school books. Even though it was traced, I was impressed, probably due to having little money and quite a few young children to maintain. Subconsciously, my father was always trying out different art mediums himself. Still, especially in his dealings with everything he does, he never followed conventions and always had to go after creative points of departure.



Wie is vir jou rolmodelle in kuns?

Eerstens was dit my moeder sy het altyd die mooiste prentjies op ons skoolboeke se omslae geteken al was dit na getrek ek was onder de indruk,waarskynlik agv min geld en n helepaar jong kinders om te onderhou.onderbewustelik my vader was altyd self besig met verskillende kunsmeduims uitteprobeer maar veral in sy omgang met alles wat hy doen,hy het nooit convensies gevolg nie en altyd na kreatiewe uitgangspunte gehad.

Tempera on wood painting of a fossilized ammonites, by Adéle du Plessis. Private Collection.

Tempera on wood painting of a fossilized ammonites, by Adéle du Plessis. Private Collection.

These small tempera paintings of ammonites ties into her late father's love of finding fossilized ammonites while looking for Aloe Vera plants in South Africa and Adéle's fascination with nature, art history and different painting mediums.

Inspiration in Nature vs Debilitated Man Made spaces

4.     What inspires you?

Just about everything, but if I have to narrow it down, the colours in nature, nature itself, and man-made things have been forgotten and lost their attraction. Abandoned buildings or cities where it is difficult to find beauty in between all the debilitation.



Wat inspireer jou?

Ongeveer alles maar as ek dit moet narrow down is dit die kleure in die natuur, natuur self en dan ook mens gemaakte dinge wat vergete is en n aantreklikheid verloor geboue die onsoetsappige stede wat nie maklik is om mooi te vind nie.


5.     Please tell us about your work.

I'm not sure if I dare refer to my work as art, but if I look at the basic meaning that it is artificially produced and not a natural object, I can say that I am looking for something that can speak and portray my mind. I try and reproduce a moment of stillness from which other people can find a shortcut to take a comma or pause for something that can be time-consuming to seek out in a hectic world.



Ek is nie seker of ek waag om na my werk as kuns te verwys nie, maar as ek na die basiese betekenis kyk dat dit kunsmatig vervaardig is en nie n natuurvoorwerp is nie, kan ek se dat ek opsoek is na iets wat tot my gees spreek en dit dan uit te beeld maw n stilstaanmomentjie weer te gee waaruit andermense n kortweg kan vind om n komma of pause te 'neem vir iets wat tydrowend kan wees om in n gejaagde wereld uit te soek.

Adéle du Plessis in her garden in Delft, The Netherlands. 2020. Photo by Nicole Sciarone.  This is from an angle not staged, so you can also see her washing machine and garden as it holds all her art supplies as it functions as a temproary studio in the s

Adéle du Plessis in her garden in Delft, The Netherlands. 2020. Photo by Nicole Sciarone.

This is from an angle not staged, so you can also see her washing machine and garden as it holds all her art supplies as it functions as a temporary studio in the summer.

Memorable moments, and things to remember

Adéle du Plessis chatting with Marcel Stravers at Art Laren. Both their art was hanging at the fair.

Artist Adéle du Plessis chatting with Artist Marcel Stravers  at Art Laren 2021. Both their art was hanging at the fair.

6.     What’s your most memorable experience in your field?

Nothing stands out above others, but for me, my nicest and highest moments are always when one talks to a fellow creative person. What comes from these encounters is pure magic. It can definitely put me in a euphoric state, from the ideas or cooperation from these interactions.



Wat is jou mees memorable expierence as 'n kunstenaar?

Daars niks wat bo ander uitstaan nie, maar vir my is my lekkerste en hoogste note altyd as mens met n mede kreatiewe persoon praat en dit wat dan na bo kom( saam werk of idees),dis magic en definitief wat mens in n euphoriese staat sit.


7.     What keeps you going when things get tough?

I once read a quote, but no longer remember exactly how it was worded. The gist of it was: "that artists have a desire to expose, but fear to reveal". And in this problem living with others around you, you can end up sitting in fear of paralysis and isolation, for fear of exposing yourself and then you can become locked-into yourself. Which I also often experience.



Wat is jou grootste angs as kunstenaar?

Ek het ooit n citasie gelees maar nie meer presies onthou hoe dit bewoord id nie wat se in die rigting '"artist have a desire to expose, but a fear to reveal" of ander om maar daar iewers sit ons opgesluit ek ook dus.


8. Looking back, what do you wish you knew in the beginning?

Hahaha, what and who you are is enough applies not only in life but also in art.



As jy terug kyk, wat wens jy het jy geweet in de begin?

Hahaha dat wat en wie jy is is genoeg, geld nie net in die lewe nie maar ook in kuns.

Adéle du Plessis in her garden in Delft, The Netherlands. 2020. Photo by Nicole Sciarone.

Become Adéle du Plessis

9. What is a strategy that has helped you to become better as an artist?

Except for time, creating, and creating, I still have light years' growth ahead. That growth is primarily in simplification, so I would say I am still only starting now.



Wat is 'n stratagie wat jou gehelp het om beter te word as n kunstenaar?

Behalwe vir tyd, werk, werk, werk, maar daar is lightyears se groei ahead en meestal in vereenvoudiging so ek sou se ek gaan nou eers begin.


10. What helps you go through when it gets difficult?

It is when it gets difficult is when one has to push through. I also take long recesses. The challenge from difficult periods is overcoming the difficult period in itself. Picasso said, "inspiration comes to those it finds working", or something in this line.



Wat help jou deur gaan as dit moeilik word?

Dit is juis as dit moeilik raak wanneer mens deur moet druk, maar ek vat ook lang resesse. Plus moeilik uitdaginge is waarvoor mens dit onder andere doen. Picasso het gese "inspiration comes to those it find working"  of iets in die lyn.


“Inspiration exists, but it has to find you working.”

― Pablo Picasso


11. If you could teach people one thing about art, what would it be?

Look, look, look. Do not follow preconceived ideas but do it yourself. Even if you only follow conventions, a teacher is revealed to a student by doing.



As jy mense een ding oor kuns kon leer, wat sou dit wees?

Kyk, kyk, kyk, nie vooropgestelde idees volg nie maar veral doen self. Al doen jy dan conventioneel kan 'n teacher homself aan die leerling reveal.

Closing thoughts

Adéle du Plessis is a dedicated artist that has never stopped creating throughout her own life. The theme in her work is looking at art history, nature and ugly bits of the world in distilling them into small moments of beauty.

She is fascinated by texture, which probably comes from her first artistic medium, mud. Mud comes in so many textures and colours. It can be refined and soft or gravelly with bits of debris and in a hundred varying shades from beige to brown to red in South Africa. Adéle is a dedicated artist and reluctant to give herself credit for her enormous production of art these last thirty years. She sees herself as a student of the arts, always eager to learn and distil our modern world by capturing it in highly textured artwork. She admires artists greatly, even though she is a prolific artist. When her success becomes overwhelming, she often retreats into another form of creating, like cooking,


quilting, sewing, knitting or crocheting, which are historically undervalued creative female modes of creation. During this time, she continues to contemplate and create the art you see at the gallery. After several months of not painting, she will suddenly paint ten works in a short amount of time in the small hours of the night.


We thank Adéle for taking the time to do the interview, which is no small thing. As she mentions in her interview it can be very scary to reveal yourself through your art to a large public.


Lots of Love, 

Tascha Sciarone

Art Historian and Gallery Manager at Gallery Sorelle Sciarone

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