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Nellien Brewer is well known for her birds in various techniques, ranging from oil painting, etching, to her very unique, signature look, where she uses words to build an image.
“I am fascinated by complexity in nature. Life exists in contrast with the laws of physics which hold that systems inevitably break down to reduced complexity. The theory of evolution contrasts with the creation story accepted by most religions, and this paradox has been my conceptual focus since 2007.
From a religious point of view, the Bible says that ‘In the beginning was the Word’. The notion that the ‘beginning’ was something abstract like a thought (or words) seems to be confirmed by the fact that algorithms can be used to explain most systems or patterns in nature but cannot be written to describe abstract thought.
‘The Word’ has therefore become a metaphor for the intricate codes underlying all natural systems. In my work, I juxtapose both Biblical and secular philosophical writings against the patterns and systems of the natural world. Digital drawing facilitates a level of detail impossible to achieve by hand, and evokes the (often invisible) intricacies of natural systems. As the typing of each word is extremely time-consuming, I am only able to produce approximately 1 text work per year.”
Nellien was born in Greytown, KwaZulu-Natal, in 1961. She qualified as a Landscape Architect from the University of Pretoria in 1982, and spent the next 20 years in this profession, however, Fine Arts always remained her first love, and she enrolled for the BVA degree at UNISA which she completed in 2011.
In 2008 she was one of the ‘Top 15’ artists at the Ekurhuleni National Fine Arts Awards. The following year she received the ‘Art on Paper’ merit award at the 2009 Thami Mnyele Fine Arts Awards.
Since then, she has participated in a number of juried group exhibitions both nationally and internationally.
She employs a variety of media in her art making, and she started working extensively with text during 2007. Her work deals primarily with human worldviews and philosophies juxtaposed against natural complexity. For this reason, her work became increasingly computer-based, as this allows a level of detail impossible to achieve by hand. More recently she has started to explore traditional printmaking methods, and her work often consists of a combination of digital and traditional printing.
Print like a Girl Collaboration – Gallery 2, Turbine Art Fair
#PRINTLIKEAGIRL – The Art Room, Parkhurst
A Sense of Place – Museum, NAF, Grahamstown
Conceptual Animal– Art Well Gallery
Living Depth, Comprehension – Dyman Gallery, Stellenbosch
New Broom – Art Well Gallery
Fine Art Print Fair Pop-Up Show and Online exhibition
TPG exhibition – Trent Gallery, Pretoria
Indestructible – Trent Gallery, Pretoria
Art meets Africa – Re-Art Halle, Ihlienworth, Hamburg, Germany
Moments before Death – Artbox Gallery, Pretoria
Home – NAF Grahamstown
Step into their shoes – Johan van Heerden Art Gallery, Pretoria
Let there be Light – Artbox Gallery, Pretoria
Bruidskat/ Trousseau – Tina Skukan Gallery, Pretoria
Joburg Fringe 2017 – The Yards, Lorentzville, Johannesburg
Thami Mnyele Fine Arts Awards 2017, Ekurhuleni
Through a Lens – Group exhibition, Trent Gallery, Pretoria
From Classical to Modern Painters – Group exhibition, Brooklyn Gallery, Pretoria
Indigenous Diversity – Group exhibition, Artbox Gallery, Pretoria
SA Fine Art Print Fair – Group exhibition, Illovo, Johannesburg
Plek/Place – Aardklop Festival, Potchefstroom
Joburg Fringe 2016 – Arts on Main, Johannesburg
Vision: An Artist’s Perspective, Kaleid Gallery, San Jose, USA – Judges Special Recognition
Search for Meaning Book Fair 2016 Art Exhibition, Seattle University, Seattle, USA
Aeipathy – Group exhibition, Equus Gallery, Cavalli Estate, Somerset West
Search for Meaning Book Fair 2015 Art Exhibition, Seattle University, Seattle, USA
SASOL New Signatures Art Competition finalist, Pretoria Art Museum, Pretoria