Catalogue Article: Unimaginable, Unnameable, Poetic

Unimaginable, Unnameable, Poetic: The creative force in the work of Liza Grobler
By Amanda Botha


One eye sees the other feels – Paul Klee
Liza Grobler is an artist who can turn unimaginable concepts into tangible form. She plays with a variety of materials, teasing them into shapes that were never meant to be. Shapes that are sensuous and tactile. One has to appreciate them in their command of space: how they sinew and swoop differently from every angle.

Her exhibition, Blindfolded Line, Dancing Through Time, features large and fascinating works where the viewer can get lost in this spatial interplay of contrasting materials. They are an intriguing delight which restores one’s faith in art that engages and inspires.

At the same time it is witty, bright and rooted in our urban environment. It has elements of fun and also perhaps hidden social commentary. The subject matter indicates a deliberate and highly playful evasion of aesthetic categorisation. It is idiosyncratic, enigmatic art.

Grobler’s vocabulary oscillates freely between the figurative and the nonrepresentational. She communicates through a unique symbolism that is more expressive than descriptive. She creates a magnificent depth and texture to the pieces she designs. The subject is unnameable, the result is poetic. One feels the authenticity of the creative impulse.

Grobler works on her own colour experiments, using blocks of colour with limited overlap, allowing them to become basic building blocks to create a colour harmony. The bold colours come together in vibrating edges that create a sense of pulsating movement, in order to be transformed into a sprawling hyper visual experience; into fantastic and yet deeply meditative works.

Her paintings feature a heightened chromatic palette, complex figure / ground reversals and interlocking forms, as well as a variety of surface textures modified by successive layers of resins, oils and waves.

In this exhibition she explores the notion that all images develop from a single dot. The movement of the dot does not only build an image, it also connects. It shows an intrinsic need to communicate, to share experiences and to be informed by responses. The line strives to dance, but mostly stumbles ahead into unknown territories. As with most explorations, the outcome is often a surprise.

The drawn line reconfigures space; it divides, yet juxtaposes two entities; it connects two distant points; it includes some and excludes others; it marks a boundary between standing for, and standing against.

The notion of a “blindfolded line” leads to the experience of space. It is a search in the dark towards an unknown outcome. The artist allows organic patterns to evolve as independent configurations. The process is one of creating relatively unplanned elements that are arranged in spontaneous compositions, which gradually take shape as the work progresses. It could also be argued that the work exists in an indefinable temporal state: a work-in-progress and therefore, in a sense, incomplete. Both the form and the process inform the content.

Conceptually, the works are open to manifold impressions. In fact, it can be said that the artist depends on the viewer to complete the picture. The exhibition invites viewers to allow their own imaginations to take a ride on the playful and engaging ideas that the artist presents. Grobler engages with mundane materials, giving everyday objects a new life and spreading energy to all who encounter them.

The viewers are integral through their participation. They are invited to become part of the artwork itself. In fact, their interaction with the work allows further organic growth.In the pipe cleaner web the lines sit in space; a maze growing over time, created through audience participation. The artist trusts and allows the work to flow and develop without having final control. Retrieving and letting it unfold, becomes part of the facilitation process of finalising the end product.

By allowing space for the unknown and inviting participation, the artist is creating a social form of art. In the manner of Michel Foucault, Grobler allows art making to unfold like a game that invariably goes beyond its own rules and transgresses its own limitations. The aspects that are absent are as important as those that are present.

Liza Grobler’s exhibition, Blindfolded Line, Dancing Through Time is a highly immersive installation. Her work has a gravitas with an ethereal splendour.


Foucault, Michel: What is an Author? Lecture presented to the Societe Francaise de Philosophies, 22 February 1969. In: The Philosophy of Language. Edited John Searle, Cambridge University Press, 1996.

Franciscono, Marcel: Paul Klee – His work and Thought. University of Chicago Press, 1991.