Deborah Poynton, Land of Cockaigne 1, 2011_TNCM Collection

- Deborah Poynton was born in Durban and lives between Cape Town and Berlin. The Land of Cockaigne is a land of plenty in medieval myth, an imaginary place of extreme luxury and ease where physical comforts and pleasures are always immediately at hand.  For Poynton, the act of painting is an attempt to enter this fantastical world - but in an unexpected way. She has described the act of painting as coming from a constant need to inhabit this land.

In this large scale painting we are confronted with the back of a nude woman stretched out on a sea of deep red velvet. There is no end to the folds of velvet, no means of escaping the sensual detail of which seems to engulf the onlooker. Her mark making is meticulous, layer upon layer of tiny brushstrokes that result in an intensely realistic surface. This detailed realism is central to Poynton's illusion of certainty, albeit within spaces of pure abandon. The artist has described her paintings as paradoxes, “they seem real, but only show up the illusion. They are sublime, and therefore ridiculous. They flaunt beauty and skill but these attributes float like detached retinas, they form a screen blinding the onlooker to the painting's artificial truth, its true lie.” She forces us to confront contemporary notions of art practice not only in terms of style but also subject. She seeks out subjects that do not confront us with significance, political or conceptual, perhaps because she wishes to sidestep the fabrications of meaning.