Recent Work by Sasha Hartslief
From 26 January to February 12 2022, Everard Read London will a solo exhibition of recent work by South African artist Sasha Hartslief. Her subtle investigations into the human condition, through her atmospheric interiors, her nudes and character studies, somehow strike a chord with us.
Using brushstrokes to evoke the transience of light, colour and movement, her subjects are often viewed from a philosophical, deeply personal perspective, resulting in compelling works that are emotionally charged, pensive in mood and considered in composition.
“Sasha’s images are exquisite: fragile, vulnerable and viscerally honest” – Hazel Friedman, journalist and arts writer.
Passionate about drawing from an early age, Sasha Hartslief is largely self-taught. Her subjects are often viewed from a philosophical, deeply personal perspective, resulting in paintings that are emotionally charged, pensive in mood and considered in composition. Her subtle investigations into the human condition somehow strike a chord with us.
“I defer to the classical Masters for inspiration,” says Sasha Hartslief, who admits to placing images painted by the 19th century American Impressionist, John Singer Sargent, next to her easel while she paints. Her muses include the 19th-century neo-classicist, Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres, whose draughtsmanship and linear dexterity provide formal inspiration for her works.
But Hartslief’s brushstrokes are more diffuse than the precise, stylized techniques of the neo-classicists. Like the 19th century French Impressionists, she uses brushstrokes to evoke the transience of light, colour and movement. And like her Renaissance and Impressionist forebears, she employs everyday visual devices to explore the way in which atmospheric light and tonal modulations inform a surface, and to evoke atmospheres fraught with symbolic subtexts. But the transience of the captured moment is counterbalanced by the disciplined rigour of Hartslief’s technique and painterly process. She admits to being “obsessively skills-driven and consumed” by her work. Each image becomes a formal study in light, contour and line.
Hartslief’s experimentation with chiaroscuro techniques derives inspiration from the works by 17th-century Baroque masters such as Rembrandt who, through the use of impasto, evoked light and shadow in his portraits as a psychological device, similar to the way in which stage-lighting functions in the theatre. Often seeming to be lit from below, the expressive shading in Hartslief’s portraits tends to converge around the facial hollows, giving the paintings a spatial as well as emotional depth. The eyes of the women in her portraits, in particular, seem inwardly focused.
December 20, 2021
December 13, 2021