Born 1958 | Gauteng, South Africa
Ann Gadd has been an artist since she scrawled her first images in crayon across her bedroom wall. (An event her parents found to be less auspicious.) After winning the Best Acrylic Painting at the South African Association of Artists annual competition, she gained the confidence to make art her career.
In 2002, she held her first solo exhibition (AVA). During her 25-year career, Ann has exhibited in London, at the Joburg Art Fair, The Florence Biennale, Art at Five (Brighton, UK), the Glasgow and Edinburgh Art Fairs, and in Belfast, as well as locally. Her paintings appeared in the House of the Year program (UK). In the 2020 ALLWOMXNMATTER Exhibition, she was voted 3rd top female artist in the People’s Choice. Ann’s paintings hang in collections across the globe.
Her style has shifted from Conceptualism, and Fauvism, (early work) to Pop Art (Zulu Lulu and Palindromes and Popular Icons Series). Later, she created the Ruminantic art movement with her Sheep/Ewe Series. African Symbolism is a title she coined for the Give it Horns Series. Her Pray. Prey. Series. is street art influenced.
Born in 1958, Ann works in Cape Town, South Africa, and is married to artist Anthony Gadd.
We are the canvas and, as such, are both the creator and the creation.
— The 2nd Collector’s Guide to Art and Artists in South Africa.
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.