Adéle Opperman

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Adéle Opperman is a Bloemfontein based artist. She obtained her BA Degree in Fine Arts in 2012 under the supervision of Janine Allen-Spies and Ben Botma at the University of the Free State. In 2013 she also obtained a BA Honours degree Cum Laude in Afrikaans and Dutch from the same institution. Until recently she worked at Motheo TVET College as a Drawing and History of Art lecturer. She has been involved with teaching high school learners at the Nellie Brisley School of Art since 2013.

Opperman's art focuses on the constructing and conservation of identity in a multi-dimensional world and a fast-changing society. Using ball point pen as her preferred medium, she encapsulates emotions of struggle, emancipation and overall existence.

"My personal experiences and memories serve as a powerful source of inspiration, in order to bring that which is in my imagination to life. Although inspired by everyday life, the focus of my art is usually on (re)constructing an identity for an individual as part a minority group in a multi-faceted politically charged world.

Everyone in this world has a pre-constructed identity thrust upon them. My artwork aims to highlight the anomalies, or simply that which does not fit in with this identity, as society perceives it to be fit. My art therefore portrays subjects by highlighting their personal identities, without alienating them from their group identities.

For this reason, I usually use people as subjects. This, however, does not imply that I only draw portraits, but that I attempt to capture the subject's personality rather than their image. As an Afrikaner myself, I like to show that although we all have a common heritage, our interpretations thereof may differ. The stereotypical image of an Afrikaner is often turned on its head, or brought into conflict with the personal identities of my subjects. Every artwork in this range therefore aims towards both questioning and affirming the notions around identity.

This theme was especially prevalent in earlier artworks. Here, I played with the idea of an inaccessibility of a past that relates to memories and feelings of nostalgia. This nostalgia implies a longing towards a time rather than a place. Nostalgia is seen as an opportunity to escape to an idealised past, but in fact it banishes you from the present. This inaccessibility is emblematised through a series of artworks depicting adults playing with or on children's toys, such as a rocking horse. This represents the inaccessibility of a time, in this case childhood, that can never be returned to again. This element of nostalgia contains a duality: a longing to a place that can never be returned to for healing, because the longing is for a certain time in the past, rather than a place. This is an indication of a deep-rooted loss.

Art makes it possible to escape to a new world through the imagination. My choice of medium represents a certain honesty. With no digital manipulation or use of short cuts, every artwork is formed through making little lines with a ballpoint pen. The art also constitutes time, as months of my life is often encapsulated in a single artwork, during which one could say that I transcended to the time or place which I am depicting.

Longing and belonging therefore finds new meaning, as I am both in the real world, but also looking through a window, watching a new world being created line by line. The end result is therefore not only a depiction of what I created, but also of what the artwork evoked in me, during its creation."