Plants, of course, do not think; they just do. They respond to stimuli and move and grow accordingly. Marsi van de Heuvel her drawings are attempts at being this automatic: the process is meditative and repetitive. If lines are placed in different directions they describe form, but her objective is to describe feeling: to convey a sense of the subject without fixing it, and to show that nothing is separate from Environment or Other. She has been exploring bigger universal ideas with little lines for years as an attempt to make work separate from ego. This is a reaction to thinking about her own identity. She has very little idea of the story of her heritage. Her family is mixed race, and because interracial relationships were illegal in South Africa, it has been hard to map out her family history. It was a topic her family never spoke about. Consequently, the idea of belonging is something that fascinates Marsi. Whether we belong to a place, a family or a culture – and whether or not that is important. The things that define our identity and offer a sense of stability can also fuel anxiety. There is a freedom in not belonging to anything specific because you can then belong to anything. Plants don’t have these thoughts though, they just do.
Marsi van de Heuvel (b. 1987) grew up in her mothers art classroom, with unlimited access to materials and surrounded by books on old masters. She has spent countless hours observing, exploring and practicing. After trying her hand in film photography and finding the practice too creatively restrictive; her innate inquisitiveness led her to study further. She moved on to study Fine Art at Ruth Prowse and was drawn to the constantly expanding boundaries of art, and it’s invitation to examine life. She graduated in 2010, majoring in painting. Despite most of her current work being executed with fineliner pens, van de Heuvel still sees herself as a painter. She approaches the color and layers in her works as if she was working with oil paint; this gives the ‘drawings’ a radiant quality. The subjects of mountains, volcanoes, seascapes, and outer space portrayed in her work, have always contemplated perspectives of who we are and where we are. Van de Heuvel is interested in art as therapy, for the artist and the viewer. Her most recent work of abstract drawings and drawings of and flowers explore our inner, intimate landscape and the beauty and warmth of human connection. Marsi van de Heuvel describes the process behind her new body of work as the performance of ballet that is graceful and effortless but the practice of which is in fact very rigid, repetitive and restrictive. Making lightness and finding internal space within restraints, results in harmony. That is what she attempts with layers of one directional mark making; to create openness and beauty within the struggle.