Whimsical characters and local scenes that include cats, dogs, birds, fish, you name it, have been the trademark of artist Renate Seffer’s vivid artwork over the years. Retaining the vivacity but approaching her subject matter with an interesting new perspective, Renate Seffer has wowed Full of Beans visitors with her inimitable style at a recent exhibition of her work. Business Editor Lindsey Turnbull meets the artist over a FoB latté to find out more and reports.
Even though Renate Seffer’s work may have looked fairly light-hearted on the surface, there have always been undercurrents of social comment running through her work, as she furthers: “I love to create artwork that sparks conversation. It’s interesting for me to take the viewer to another level.”
Thus her latest exhibition, entitled Summer Daze and inspired by a particularly long, hot summer last year, continues the social commentary, but from a different viewpoint.
Following a bout of what she terms “painter’s block” early last year, Renate decided to up sticks and rent out an art studio in New York City for a few weeks along with her cousin (also an artist), who flew in from Renate’s native Australia. As well as enjoying the fresh new perspective that New York afforded her, Renate also participated in a group exhibit at Agora Gallery, Chelsea, NY.
“I needed to clear my head and figure out where I was going as an artist,” Renate says. “It was an incredibly rewarding experience: I am an avid people watcher and so we walked for miles, absorbing the scene and taking in the sights. I was like a kid in a candy store because New York is such a buzzing, lively city.”
Not one for sketching on site, Renate prefers to store up images in her mind and then commit them to canvas once she returns to her studio.
“The experience in New York helped me grow and evolve as an artist,” Renate states. “And the growth was at a rapid pace!”
Returning to her rented New York studio and then back home to Cayman, Renate painted with a passion.
The mood of the new exhibition is very much in keeping with the fast movement that Renate experienced in New York, with figures in her acrylic on canvas paintings such as ‘Summer Daze’, ’96 Degrees in the Shade’ and “Blame it on the Sun’ appearing almost as a blur in her work. The paintings have lost nothing of their usual vivid and fresh approach; yet appear more moody and surreal than before.
Another fresh approach for Renate has been the move from her traditional large canvas base to working on paper (still with acrylics), in part to offer viewers artwork that was a little more affordable.
“It’s certainly less work to create a piece of artwork on paper because there are so many more layers required on canvas and it is much more spontaneous,” she states. “I’m moved by colour and in particular, colour combinations, so these pieces were a great experience for me and a refreshing change.”
Renate says that her work is not preconceived but rather, more intuitive, “almost experimental, really” she says. “I’ve really enjoyed this change of style.”
Renate is currently preparing to become one of the National Gallery’s resident artists in their annual Day in the Life of residency programme, along with artists Avril Ward and Gordon Solomon, beginning 31 May until 10 June. The solo exhibitions start on 11 June and run until 25 August, so watch this space for more coverage on the evolution of Renate’s work.