Gucci Garden of Eden at the Norval Foundation

Commissioned by the Norval Foundation to create 'wearable paintings' for a Garden of Eden, Gabrielle Kruger's work comes as a painting-in-flux; framed, contained, and performed by students of the Cape Academy of Performing Arts. 

The event - which saw the likes of Adam and Eve; the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil; the Serpent; the Lamb of Innocence; the Crow of Death; a Swarm of Bees and a Bouquet of Red Roses come to life through Kruger's paintings - was curated by Elana Brundyn and Louw Kotze as a secret performance, themed Gucci Garden of Eden and hosted by the Norval Foundation. With music composed by Alessandro Gigli and cheorography by Debbie Turner, Kruger's work took on the form of a performance painting - reclaiming the process of painting as a pure form of expression and performative intervention (both in its role within the performance and in the very way it has been created) and adopting various positions of artwork / costume / landscape / scene. 

Following an extended spell at the NIROX Foundation's Artist-in-Residency programme, Kruger first began exploring the idea of, what the artist has termed, a performance painting when she was commissioned to create the scenography for Laine Butler's interpretation of Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream, performed by the students from the National School of the Arts. 

In creating these performance paintings, and in essence these 'wearable paintings', Kruger utilises acrylic paint to embody plastic - putting to use the malleable nature of solidified acrylic paint, and mimicking the fluid yet constructive quality of fabric. Taking direction from this unique nature of her paint, the idea of growing comes as a movement to inform composition, and once worn, the paintings become the masterpiece. Here, the artwork adorns the performer like a costume (yet remains fluid in its ability to be artwork / costume / landscape / scene); and the performer, the wearer of Kruger's work, takes on a role as the painting's choreographer. Kruger's work becomes like a skin - growing both over and around its subjects, and given full life by those who occupy it. 

Text by Ellen Agnew.