Pencil in your diary: A solo exhibition by Andrea du Plessis 

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Supernature: Simulacra, a solo exhibition by multidisciplinary artist, Andrea du Plessis – who was also the Sasol New Signatures Winner 2021 – is a deepening of her research into the sublime experience, and our complex relationship with nature in an age marked by technological augmentation and simulation.

As an extension of the Supernature series which Andrea began in 2020, her work features an exploration of emerging technologies combined with traditional oil painting to create interactive, immersive realms as well as an encyclopaedia of hybrid lifeforms.

Supernature: Simulacra aims to offer the viewer an opportunity to consider our interconnectivity with the natural world, and examines the possibility of reconnecting to nature via technology. By juxtaposing the Romantic tradition of landscape painting with emerging technologies, Supernature: Simulacra aims to create a link between the nineteenth century and contemporary representations and experiences of nature while offering the viewer an opportunity to consider our interconnectivity with the natural world.

Through the use of augmented reality, virtual reality and artificial intelligence, it examines the contemporary sublime experience – the technological sublime – whilst aiming to create a new, hybrid form of nature – techno-nature.

We chatted to her about her upcoming exhibition and her Sasol New Signatures journey.

The countdown has begun for your solo exhibition – how are you feeling about this and how you have prepared yourself for the exhibition? I’m a little nervous, but also quite excited to finally see all the work in one space. Having my first solo at the Pretoria Art Museum in conjunction with the Sasol New Signatures Art Competition exhibition is an honour and a dream come true. I’ve been developing this body of work for quite a while now so I’m excited to finally share it and have audiences interact with it.

Tell us a little about the exhibition. The exhibition will consist of three sections. The first is a series of A.R. (augmented reality) interactive oil paintings, designed to form a sequence that takes one on a journey from sunrise to sunset, from the wide-open landscape deep into the forest. The second consists of my exploration of V.R. (virtual reality) as a medium and the third consists of A.I. (artificial intelligence) generated art that forms a kind of encyclopedia of hybrid lifeforms.

The work is really an exploration of the modern-day sublime experience – inspired by nature but mediated through the use of technology. By referencing eighteenth and nineteenth-century landscape paintings and infusing it with emerging technologies, the work aims to create a link between past and contemporary representations and experiences of nature.

How many works will you be showing? The exhibition will feature nine A.R. interactive oil paintings; a large collection of prints of A.I. generated, hybrid species; A.I. generated video art and a selection of sculptures made in V.R. and 3D printed.

Do you have a favourite work? If so which one or ones and why? It’s hard to choose a favourite. So much thought and care went into creating all the works and I’m pleased with how it turned out. Each of the mediums I’ve been working in has something magical to offer. At the moment I’m really enjoying painting and sculpting in VR and I am excited to share the results. If I had to choose a favourite painting it would be “New Seeds” – I can see myself living there and just breathing it all in.

What kind of response are you hoping for when people see your work? When I’m working, I really try to tap into the wonder and magical aliveness of our natural world. I try to create a new reality, inspired by familiar scenery and species, but with an alien twist. I guess you can say it’s a utopian vision of new earth or a foreign planet perhaps. The video artworks are designed to form a seamless loop, to resemble an eternal moment in time. I would like the audience to take a moment to be immersed in the scenery, to relax into it, almost like a meditation. I’m hoping that this will bring an elevated state and a sense of connection.

What do you want people to know about Andrea the artist? I care deeply about the natural world. It’s how I connect with something greater than myself – an eternal life force. As an artist, I want to create work that makes people aware of nature’s ability to heal and nurture us.

What is next for you after this exhibition?  I’m hoping to participate in more group shows, both locally and internationally. I’ve had some invitations to participate in international group shows, but I’ll have more time to focus on these opportunities after the solo.

You can view the Supernature: Simulacra exhibition at the Pretoria Art Museum from August 25 until October 2 2022 alongside the 2022 Sasol New Signatures Art Competition exhibition.

Details: www.sasolsignatures.co.za

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