CARYN SCRIMGEOUR

BIOGRAPHY

CARYN SCRIMGEOUR

(b. 1970 Johannesburg, South Africa)

 

BIOGRAPHY AND WORK

 

Caryn Scrimgeour was born in Johannesburg in 1970 and has lived in Cape Town since 1972.  In 1991 she graduated from the University of Stellenbosch with a BA in Fine Art.

 

Scrimgeour’s subject matter is chosen from commonplace objects that surround her. Delicate chinaware, glassware and insects are combined with common trinkets and knick-knacks and portrayed against a backdrop of richly patterned fabric in a way that is reminiscent of 17th century Dutch still life painting.

 

Objects that are fragile and precious are juxtaposed with mundane items, which in turn are elevated to the same level of importance. Her works are filled with symbolism, and the place settings consequently ‘become representative of major events which have impacted my life over the past ten years, but which are also events that most women will experience in the course of their lives, in one form or another.’ The objects in these paintings are easily recognisable, familiar and often nostalgic, making the images highly accessible to the viewer. Even the use of symbols and images drawn from other cultures and societies serve to entice rather than alienate the viewer Caryn explains, ‘The constantly changing positions of the knives and forks are indicative of the inconsistency and fluctuation of what we see as sacred or fundamental to our core beliefs…For instance, an empty place setting, symbolises a loss of self, emptiness and missed opportunities.’

 

The images are elevated from that of traditional still-life by the use of aerial perspective which forces a shift in our viewpoint and the way in which we interpret the objects. At the same time it creates an almost abstract interplay between the objects and the patterns, creating a contemporary context for a very traditional genre.

 

Caryn Scrimgeour’s paintings are obsessively immaculate.  Few artists can boast the fanatical attention to detail that she exhibits and the extraordinary command of her palette that enables her to wring out a crystal clear luminosity from tubes of oil paint.  It is these qualities, coupled with her flair for fabric design and eye for curious bric-a-brac, that enable her to transform seemingly banal table settings into sweeping, post-modern, epic dramas that play out through the domestic debris of our lives.  The absence of humans,  aside from the odd reflection in a knife (of the artist peering down),  makes these works all the more poignant, as do the unlikely  protagonists:  the harlequin collection of single pieces of china and cutlery ( the last remnants of grandma’s proud collection);  the lavishly painted cigarette butt; the  burnt match; the  half full glass of wine; the cocktail umbrella;  the Disney paper serviette…  These are Vanitas paintings , but not in the Catholic, finger-wagging  manner of the 16th and 17th centuries,  but rather in  a way that seems apt for our age:  they hint gently at the fragility and transitoriness of the human construct.  Similarly the fragments recorded are mini-monuments to the human desire to endure in the face of futility, and, the foolhardiness of trying.

 

EXHIBITIONS

 

Selected Solo Exhibitions

 

2014

Breaking Point, Solo Exhibition Everard Read, Cape Town

 

2012

Conundrum, Solo Exhibition, Everard Read, Johannesburg

 

2008

Fragile, Fertile Deceptions Solo Exhibition, Everard Read, Cape Town

 

2006

Solo Exhibition, Everard Read, Johannesburg

 

Selected Group Exhibitions

 

2015

Winter, Group Exhibition Everard Read,, Cape Town

 

2014

Summer Season Group Exhibition Everard Read,, Cape Town

 

2013

100, Group Exhibition Everard Read,, Cape Town

Centenary Group Exhibition, Everard Read, Johannesburg

Possessed Group Exhibition, Everard Read, Cape Town

Sydney Art Fair Group Exhibition With Everard Read, Johannesburg, Sydney

 

2012

Johannesburg Art Fair Group Exhibition With Everard Read, Johannesburg

Winter Group Exhibition, Everard Read, Cape Town

Small Works Group Exhibition, Everard Read, Cape Town

India Art Fair Group Exhibition With Everard Read, Johannesburg, New Delhi

 

2011

Johannesburg Art Fair Group Exhibition With Everard Read, Johannesburg

15th Anniversary Group Exhibition, Everard Read, Cape Town

Self Portrait Group Exhibition, Rust En Vrede, Durbanville

 

2010

Summer Group Exhibition, Everard Read, Cape Town

View From The South, Group Exhibition, Everard Read, Cape Town

 

2009

Sex, Power, Money Group Exhibition, Everard Read, Cape Town

Summer Group Exhibition, Everard Read, Cape Town

 

2008

The City Group Exhibition, Everard Read, Cape Town

 

2007

Artwords II Group Exhibition, Rust En Vrede, Durbanville

 

2006

Seven Deadly Sins Group Exhibition, Rust En Vrede, Durbanville

 

2004

Women's Day Group Exhibition, Rust En Vrede, Durbanville