Every now and again, between her free-spirited laughter and sentences sprinkled with saucy expletives and phrases in Afrikaans, Gaigher lets go of one such perfectly formed statement about her work. Of her work more broadly, she tells me it is about “the failure of painting, its inability to translate a photo”. Of her stop-start process, which involves intermittently working on four paintings at once, she says, “I am guided by whatever happens, by not forcing the painting to be what I want it to be, of not giving in to the expectation of a painting”.
Alert eye and perceptive mind notwithstanding, Gaigher admits to be caught off guard by her unexpected success. “It is really bizarre that it happened so quickly. I thought it would only happen when I was much older.” Not that she’s bemoaning having to not work as a waitress or tutor with dreams of making it. Painting full-time she is now free to experiment, with painting on canvas, scrim, photos, maybe metal or some other surface next. “I think I would struggle to work in just one way,” she says. “I enjoy working on all these different things because it keeps me interested in my own work.”
“Wieg” by Jeanne Gaigher is at Smith Gallery in Cape Town until Saturday 19 November.