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16.02.23 - 08.04.23



Text by Elizabeth Gunter

Marieke Kruger's work on display in Confessionale reminds us once again that drawing asserts with mute force. She confirms that drawing conducts as a very silent language (not unlike prayer, in itself a form of meditative self-reflection) and one that intones the peculiar, often baffling solitude of what we hide as self-knowledge, which often is darkly faltering, even wholly unspeakable. 

Perhaps a need to confess to such forbidden confidences, to disclose them simply to check the validity of her being against how she perceives it in others, could be seen as a driving force behind Marieke Kruger's drawing. Kruger obviously uses drawing to both engage in and relate the muteness of gesture and image (rather than the clamour of voice and speech) but I believe she does so to find and affirm a complex array of commonalities that we all share, whether in shackles or without. 

The drawn image, here engaging in Kruger's work the merciless gaze that only portraiture can aim right back at the viewer, matches word in source and in resource, emanating like speech from our dealings in and with the world, with the vast otherness that hovers beyond us. Imagery matches word in nuance and meaning, whether through graceful or brutal articulation, or with both incoherence and eloquence. Both word and image always reveal the mind’s extensive range of perceptualities and conceptualities. Both affirm self-as-present, but unlike words, imagery is capable of disclosing the unsayable. 

As such, Marieke Kruger reveals in and through drawing that which I imagine no-one would ever find words for, but even so, that in all likelihood she would prefer to rather not articulate through words. As such, Kruger's drawing discloses as a compelling visual confession, one most private, in a personalised, yet diverse grapheme that explodes the confines of the confessional box. She renders the priest (the viewing audience, the artist?) as no longer exempt from the transgressions of the sinner, and therefore powerless and impotent as absolver of sins (as it is an already rather otherworldly power strangely attributed to a mere worldly creature). 

I think it would be plausible to say that by positioning the barred as core focus in her work, Kruger confesses to the notion of the illicit as a life-force as real and present, as seductive and fallible as the good. In this way, she courageously subjects both societal norm and self to scrutiny that simultaneously distresses and fascinates. I see her work as empathic exchange, vehicle to the reciprocity that fuses life-world and its occupants as being as irrevocably unified as what they deem to be good and bad. Kruger's drawings drive home the notion that we all conduct such exchange with the unrelenting force of existence, sometimes with effortless ease, most often in troubled flows, but always to move ever-forward, to grow, to feel, think, understand, and to cope with the constancy of change (becoming) that we both experience and inflict.

Marieke Kruger's drawing directly constitutes exchange as formed recognition of mutuality. She conducts, through drawing, a back-and-forth dynamic that channels clashing, assimilation, and accrual from and into all directions, building her visual grapheme as forceful assertions that draw together internalities and externalities.

We see that the notion of mutuality in this context also draws together Self and Other, usually understood as polarities. Kruger deliberately addresses and asserts Self as Other, Other as Self, offering the viewer absolution from a dualism ever in need of retelling. She proposes in its stead Self and Other as intimacy. And so, we also recognize in Self the Other, and in the Other, Self. We can now meet on common ground, in those spaces where crossroads overlap, in mid-spheres that draw us all together as pilgrims struggling along a road we cannot know until we walk it.

For Kruger the act of drawing, its labour and enactionist powers, constitute one such midsphere. She harnesses mark making to draw from herself - confessing from inside - to reveal as shared complexity on the outside. We see that, with the uncanny simultaneity that the drawing act alone is capable of scoring, she marks the outside to store its complexities inside, thereby affirming the indivisible omnipotence of self-as-present in all, a mutuality undeniably real, but nonetheless not at all obvious. What she shows us of and about the other evokes what remains hidden in ourselves too: vulnerability, the precarity of a shared existence. She reveals some secrets only to make us aware of those we refuse ourselves. For the viewer, resolve is as unattainable as absolution, closure hardly ever an option, forgiveness mostly just a dream.

Text by Elizabeth Gunter

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