Liza Visagie's perspective on painting pairs artistic expression and exploration, with a touch of “controlled madness”.
“When you're outside looking at a tree or a flower, there are certain energies to those things. Painting has a similar quality, but it's a process-oriented object,” she says. “[For the viewer] it's almost like a physical need. Similar to if you're feeling run down, and your body knows it needs Vitamin C or ginger. Painting fulfills a need optically in a way a photograph can't. It's in the strokes of paint and the fact that you're looking at someone's thoughts.”
“Painting is controlled madness,” Visagie says, referencing Van Gogh. “The universe of a painting is controlled by the painter. When you're in the rest of the world, you don't have that option!”
Visagie reflects that her long-term studies with local Vancouver painter Paul Chizik elevated her craft, often influencing her to change her painting styles and artistic identity.
“My subject matter has to excite me,” Visagie explains. It has to be personal, it has to make her feel—whether that be anger or joy.
Bits of inspiration
Visagie was fascinated with magazines about art and artists while growing up in Johannesburg, South Africa. To her, they offered a glimpse of an unknown world that seemed too distant from her reach. However, she was fortunate to have parents who were supportive of her passion and who enrolled her in an art high school.
When she moved to Canada as a young adult, Visagie began working in printmaking, which drew her towards Canadian greats such as Jack Shadbolt and Gordon Smith. This led her to attend Emily Carr, propelling her into a full-time painting career. Today, Visagie, who works on her larger works for upwards of an entire year, credits her teaching—at Langara's continuing education program and to the same small group of 10 years—as helping her put into words the craft she knows so well.
Her bits of inspiration continue to come from all over— a conversation, a walk, or an object. “Still lives are about observational skills and honing in on those skills,” Visagie notes. “With landscapes, I like being loose and rough. Objects have a personality and you need to respect that. The techniques I use are more refined.”