South African artist Karlien de Villiers is known for her expressive style and the sensitive themes she addresses. Exploring topics that include motherhood, gender, sexuality, power, anxiety and identity, with deft humour, this artist is on our radar. 

Her colourful yet sinister figures tell stories of unfaithful wives, flaccid men, doomed affairs, devastated lovers and traumatised spouses. Owning one of De Villiers’ pieces herself, DECO’s intern Sanri Pienaar explains her attraction to the artist:

Growing up in a small and rather conservative town, taboo topics have always been a guilty pleasure. Karlien’s use of Afrikaans idioms and nuanced, almost hidden messages, makes her work relative to me. I like the idea of being sophisticatedly naughty.

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Everybody’s Else’s Girl, 2013, Oil on Canvas

De Villiers’ “naughty” approach to art has made her one of South Africa’s most celebrated illustrators and cartoonists. having been ranked the second-best seller at the Fumetto International Comics Festival in 2006 for her graphic novel “My Mother was a Beautiful Woman”.

The book deals with the death of her mother set against the socio-political backdrop of Apartheid South Africa during the 1970s-80s. The book has since been translated in German, French, Spanish and Italian, but has to date not been published in South Africa.

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Die Wildevroue (Le Femmes Sauvages)

Currently de Villiers is working on a new book titled ‘Les Femes Sauvages’ meaning ‘The Wild Woman’. The book scheduled to be published in French by March 2015.

This title makes us think of this song, Hypsoline by La Femme.

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Text by Sanri Pienaar