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Grady T Zeeman - exploring light and luminosity

Cape Town / South Africa

Grady T Zeeman (b. South Africa) is a contemporary painter who graduated from Cape Technicon as a Fashion Designer in 1988. After graduation, she worked as a designer in Cape Town before marriage and moving back to her hometown.

As painting was her first love, she decided to give it more attention. With the assistance of two of her friends, she painted the roof of a local restaurant with an African theme, and they were also allowed a small exhibition space. She earnestly developed her technical skills and broadened her knowledge of Art History.

In 2008, she had her first international group exhibition in India, and in October 2020, her first solo exhibition in Rome, Italy. She has participated in various exhibitions in the USA, UK, Europe, Asia, and Africa. Zeeman has also participated in the Florence Biennale 2011, Siel de Paris 2012, London Biennale 2019, and Amsterdam Art Fair 2019.

Her work has been published in NY Arts Magazine, South African Art Times, and Arttour International Magazine (where she was mentioned as a Top Artist to Watch in 2018), as well as numerous other books and magazines. She has been a finalist in a couple of art competitions and the Global Art Awards in Dubai in 2017. She also received several international art prizes and the African Excellence Award for Contemporary Artist of the Year in 2022.

From 2011 to 2017, Zeeman had her own gallery in her hometown in South Africa, where she not only exhibited her own work but also represented other South African artists.

She is currently represented by Agora Gallery, Galerie Bruno Massa, Artio Gallery, Maison Contemporain, Art Screen TV, Cavendish Contemporary Gallery.

Your journey as an artist has taken you from being a fashion designer to a contemporary painter with international recognition. How did your early experience in fashion design influence your approach to painting, and how did you decide to make the transition?

As a Fashion Design student, I used to sell drawings of people as an extra income. After my marriage and living on a farm, I soon realised that continuing as a Fashion Designer was not an option for me. Fashion and art are connected in the creative aspect and history, so it was just natural for me to start painting.

Your exploration of light and luminosity in your art is deeply connected to your spirituality and experiences of the Divine. Could you share a specific moment or place that had a profound impact on your understand's ing of light's spiritual significance and how it influenced your art?

I have not had a specific moment or place that had an impact on me, but rather an ongoing awareness. I regularly attend the Sunday Eucharist at St George’s Cathedral in Cape Town. The choir singing, the organ playing, the rituals and the smell of incense all have a profound effect on me, but when I’m in a kneeling position, with the glow of light coming through the

windows and the flickering of candles dancing against the copper, I am always humbled about the Divine’s greatness.

Your fascination with various religions and places of worship is evident in your work. Can you describe how visiting these places has shaped your artistic expression and the emotions you aim to convey through your paintings?

I have always been deeply spiritual and constantly seeking knowledge and wisdom. Whenever I visit a place of worship, I find a deep connection with the Divine. My aim is to convey the light and love of the Divine, regardless of religion.

Your series on buildings you've visited focuses on the emotions you experienced rather than solely depicting the architectural perfection. How do you translate these emotional experiences into your artwork, and how does this perspective resonate with viewers?

Though the architecture of all these buildings is impressive, the materials are cold and harsh, as is often their place in history. By illuminating the physical, emotional and spiritual shadows, I seek to remind and be reminded that the light of the Divine can dissolve the negativity of the world we live in. I often use a perspective from a sitting or kneeling position to create a feeling of humbleness, contrasting with Divine greatness.

You use oil as your preferred medium, starting with a thin layer of acrylic. How does this combination of mediums contribute to the effects and emotions you wish to capture in your paintings?

The thin layer of acrylic creates transparency, allowing the texture of the canvas through. By combining mediums and creating texture, I convey the hardship of being human - the very reason why we have the need to visit places of worship.

Symbolism plays a significant role in your work, especially the symbolism of the square in all religions. Could you elaborate on the meaning of the square in your art and how it represents the high frequency of the Divine?

For most of antiquity, the square symbolised the four corners of the earth, the four directions. This symbolism can be found in most contemporary religions, too. In Islam, the square represents the earth and its stability; in Buddhism, the four noble truths are dukkah, samudaya, nirodha, and magga; in Hinduism, it is a reminder to live a harmonious and balanced life. In Christianity, the square also symbolises discipleship and loyalty, and for this reason, it is often used in religious artwork and architecture. According to Biblical numerology, there are four means: creation, 3 Divinity and a total of 7 Completeness. Therefore, the square represents humanity, the Divine creation, which I use to frame the Divine frequency of 963HZ.

Your art has been featured in various publications and international exhibitions. How has the exposure to different cultures and art scenes influenced your artistic growth and the themes you explore in your paintings?

Though I have been exposed to many cultures and learned from each one, I have found that we all have the same desire to understand our environment and our purpose. Regardless of the culture or religion, we all have a deep longing to be loved and approved of - this is universal and has been a source of my own growth.

Your art has been recognized and awarded at several prestigious events and competitions. How do these accolades impact your confidence and artistic motivation, and how do you approach challenges or setbacks in your career?

I am incredibly grateful for all the recognition. However, confidence is an internal journey. I have worked just as hard on my internal growth as on my artistic growth. Challenges and setbacks come with the territory; they are a given if you want to grow. When facing setbacks, I allow myself to cry a bit, then I remember who I am, and I trust something even better is coming my way.

From 2011 to 2017, you had your own gallery representing not only your work but also other South African artists. How did this experience shape your perspective on the art world and the importance of fostering artistic communities?

I am incredibly passionate about the art industry. I absolutely love the work of other artists and celebrate their success. My experience running a gallery also gave me a perspective from the gallery side. I understand what it takes and appreciate gallery owners' efforts in exhibitions, etc.

As an artist with a unique blend of spirituality and cultural exploration, what message or feeling do you hope your viewers take away from your art, and what legacy do you wish to leave through your artistic contributions?

My desire is that my journey through life, which I portray in my art, can be an inspiration to viewers to value their own journeys, too. I truly hope that my love for the Divine, my love for humanity and my love for life itself is evident in my work and that my legacy through my art will be Love, Hope and Light.


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