Elfriede Dreyer, Paradise flooded, 2021. R39 000.00

Elfriede Dreyer, Paradise flooded, 2021. R39 000.00

Elfriede Dreyer, Paradise flooded, 2021. Mixed media on canvas, 1220x2420mm. Provenance: Obtained from the artist.




    Elfriede Dreyer is an Art Professor, curator, writer and artist. She has been affiliated with Unisa since 2015, after lecturing there full-time from 1990 to 2003. She also taught full-time at the University of Pretoria from 2003 to 2014.​ Except for works taken up in public and private collections, the majority of her art production has been destroyed by the Knysna Great Fire of June 2017. She has participated in group exhibitions at major museums, galleries and festivals throughout the country; she was a finalist in most national competitions, including the Brett Kebble Award; and held solo exhibitions in Pretoria, Paris, Oudtshoorn and Johannesburg.

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    Her main conceptual preoccupation is an ongoing interest in worldmaking discourses and the ideologies of place and space. Central concepts are utopia, dystopia and heterotopia as nuances of a family of constructions around place, such as a good place; a bad place; non-place; cocooning; displacement; and migrancy. Perceptions and projections of a good place as utopia are common, but exist mainly as fictions. Although many utopias have been conceived over the ages, few have worked out. Still they persist in appearing in a social and political sense; in addition, most people nurture personal ideas about a ‘good’ place. Except for works in public and private collections, the majority of her art production has been destroyed by the Knysna Great Fire of June 2017. Her work from 2017 to 2020 dealt mainly with the dystopia of this event.



    In Paradise flooded the ancient myth of the flood is evoked:  it is a cataclysmic dystopian event but speaks about humankind's ability to survive. Flood myths have appeared in many ancient texts and have been described as ordained by a God or deities as an act of divine retribution through destruction. The flood waters of these myths and the primaeval waters in certain creation myths are usually viewed as a cleansing event and an occasion for rebirth. Innated to the myth of the flood is the idea of dystopia as either end-of-utopia or utopia-gone-wrong.

    In this work the colour green has been used again in conceptual reference to a ‘green paradise’ – a good place – that resonates with current threats the environment and 'green' awareness. Flooding and dystopia as brokenness become intertwined with utopian green land, but it is more a case of paradise lost and paradise destroyed. Several small ‘scenes’ and ‘events’ are happening within the larger scene of destruction, showing buildings tumbling and collapsing; earth being broken up; people running towards safety; and more. Human construction and roads are washed away and titanic waves threaten to dissolve the once ‘ordered’ landscape into degenerating apocalypse. It is creation in destruction but also in reconstruction, almost in a sense of nature returning to its mythical original state of chaos.



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