Born 1958 | Gauteng, South Africa
Ann Gadd is a vibrant and prolific South African artist, whose energetic works excite all as she constantly explores new ways and dynamics in her painting and choice of subject matter. Her quirky yet insightful art asks questions that provoke the viewer to seek answers.
Ann has an exceptionally rich spectrum of professional and personal experience, abilities and talents from which to draw - her overall expression is one of change through consciousness and creation. Having spent nearly two decades as a commercial artist, cartoon book illustrator, creative and art director in the advertising arena and as a co-director of an advertising agency, Ann began to indulge her passion for painting more seriously.
Ann has participated in a large number of exhibitions and her South African landscape paintings and constructions now hang both internationally and locally. In addition, Ann is a published writer, journalist, teacher and facilitator of Transformational Art workshops targeting corporate, domestic and educational target markets.
Quite apart from numerous solo and group exhibitions, Ann has in her short life been creative director at various advertising agencies in addition to writing and publishing books in the “Self-help and development” genre.
Ann’s imagination has carried her into an exploration of many different subjects. Initially she painted landscapes, nudes and still lifes using exciting, bright colour combinations which reflect the vibrancy of Africa.
Since 2001, this South African artist has moved more into the areas of conceptual art, landscape pieces, 3 dimensional works and palindromes, sometimes utilizing her experience as a cartoonist and her propensity to see through cultural norms, to question her world.
She constantly pushes the boundaries, exploring new ideas and concepts. Her palindrome paintings use humour to question the icons of the world. In this game of words, what appears to read in one direction may also be read in another, thus what comes around goes around. Through their reversal, palindromes mirror the shadow sides of ourselves, ask questions for which there is no answer and with their absurdity and humour, push us to challenge our beliefs and understanding of reality.
Ann Gadd’s metal paintings came about through trying to create a metallic feel on canvas - later she used actual metal. At first it seemed strange and non-absorbent compared to canvas, but she was knocked out by the different effects one could obtain, particularly when the unpredictability of rusting areas became involved. Many, many sheets of metal later she came to grasp and understand this new media and to enjoy its properties.
Symbolically, it reflects the many shanty towns in South Africa, who rely on corrugated iron for their shelter. It also related to the resilience of the South African people and the rusting properties mirror not only the colours in Africa, but also, like its people, are constantly evolving. By combining the natural rust properties with different metallic effects and emulsions, as well as incorporating raw materials such as sand into the paintings, the paintings reflect both the industrial and earthy organic properties of the country.
In her South African landscape paintings, Ann has taken her more complex expressionistic style of the past and simplified her later works to a more naïve yet somewhat surrealistic style. Gone are her wild colourful brushstrokes, to be replaced by a more textured, simplified and mature approach to her work. Occasionally her quirky sense of humour emerges in her works as in the “Ambitious Sheep” series. Her sense of colour has remained although tempered with experience.
“I believe we start by learning to express ourselves creatively in the physical form. If we pursue this passion with courage, diligence and discipline, we come to the realisation that we are the canvas - and as such, are both the creator and the creation. Creativity then becomes who we are, not just what we hang on the wall.” – Ann Gadd on her personal motivation.