About the Exhibition

Being human means living with complex emotions and finding ways to express or suppress those emotions. Being human also means living in non-physical spaces within our memories or ideals. A perfectly cued piece of music can evoke an emotional memory, and certain aromas can do the same. We’re continually solving problems and finding unique ways to overcome them. We want to live our best lives, but our physical limitations and obtrusive thoughts can be a hindrance. Thoughts and dreams drive us. Most of us are estimated to have an average of 2500 to 3300 ideas per hour. Some of them will fade into oblivion, while others linger. But what about the thoughts that we desperately try to suppress? Thoughts that bubble to the surface and whisper self-destructive ideas in our subconscious minds. Láppel du vide is a split-second thought that bursts in your face. What will happen if you lean over the rail a bit too far and tumble down head-first? What will happen if you open the car door and roll out into on-coming traffic? What will happen if you stab yourself in the face with a sharp object in your hand? L’appel du vide translates as ‘the call of the void’. It is a stark reminder that death is a certainty in our futures.

Delusions of disintegration is a darkly surreal look into death. In this series of thirteen graphite and gold metallic illustrations, nature is the most prevalent force. She overgrows, intertwines and claims what belongs to her. The faces are all different, with physical imperfections and distortions. Their distortions are the manifestations of invisible illnesses. We all carry some form of pain with us, and in this series, I cast my pain into the light. I sprouted forth Delusions of Disintegration after a succession of surreal daydreams wherein I cease to exist. In the Tarot, thirteen is the card of death, which is a befitting number for this series. Death is such a feared subject, and by looking it from different angles, or a biological point of view, makes the thought more tolerable.

Art on Exhibit

Botanical

With a face cracked open like a fragile eggshell, various flora pours from the wound. An assortment of fungi, flowers and leaves bleed from the eye, with one moth perching audaciously on a mushroom. It represents a delicate balance between the fragility of life and the integration of nature. If a person should keel over and die, and their body is left undisturbed, they will fertilise the ground and feed an array of creepy-crawlies and bacteria.

Double Exposure

Reminiscent of double-exposure photography, with only the bottom half of the face is visible, the top of her head blends into a forest of winter trees. Gold bleeds from the trees onto the skin and hair, with a trickle-down the chin onto the neck. She is smiling slightly, which is symbolic of carefreeness and making light of a dark situation.

Armoured Plates

Steel plates with the same golden filigree designs as a Knight’s helmet fill the space where a face should be. The two plates are open at the front and are held together delicately by a black string. The gaping holed face is a gnarled nest of tree branches. Fears and ambitions are a network of thoughts that could be represented by tightly woven tree branches. They reside deep within the confines of your brain, where no one can see them. This illustration shows a glimpse through the armoured protection of one’s outer mask. The mask one wears daily to hide their innermost thoughts. The veil that we all wear that protects us.

Ribbons

Exaggerated eyebrows lined with gold, give the impression of anger, or distress. Deep concentration causes the brow to furrow deeply, and the head to unfurl into strips of fabric. All that is left of her hair are a few strands with golden highlights, and her shoulder becomes a trio of ribbons. Themes of telepathy surface in this illustration: We sometimes wish a thought into existence, desperately trying to
move an object by sheer willpower alone, or even breaking the time barrier. If we’re not careful, our heads might explode into streams of confetti.

Sprouting

A disembodied head is overcrowded by a thick mane of hair and sprouts into tree branches. The branches and a few strands of hair are highlighted with gold accents, giving the impression that she’s evaporating. We share the same DNA with nature, particularly trees. What if we return to those ancient roots, what if we transform into trees on a molecular level?

Smoke

Smoke enshrouds a woman's head, with her hair becoming the smoke itself. Gold acrylic shadows give it a liquid quality as it floats wispily upwards. The human soul is said to consist of a plasma-like substance which can be expelled through the nose, mouth, eyes and forehead when one dies. This idea is based on a glimpse of a black-and-white photograph on a Spiritualist church wall, of a medium sitting in an armchair wholly entranced. All the while thick, smoky plasma makes its escape through his nose in a huge cloud.

Overbloom

Following the theme of botany, various plantlife is holding the skin in position over the face like a mask. She is dreaming away while the shape of her head is completed by a variety of leaves, twigs, flowers and thorns. A single horn is protruding through her forehead, reminiscent of the half-human, half-goat faun. It is a transformation from human to a creature, with the help of vegetation.

Nesting

Where a human head should be, a bird's nest endures. The human shape seems almost nonchalant amid the bewildering vortex of straw. Often our thoughts are confusing and churn around relentlessly, and we're frantically looking for a solution to a seemingly impossible problem. Human beings are precarious creatures ostensibly on the verge of unravelling.

Evaporate

Fine cracks run across the edges, creating a sense of being stranded in a desert. Feeble strands of metallic gold frame the eyeless face and shoot up from the head. In-between the debris, the shapes of teeth and dead flies are suspended. This is the moment when we’ve lost our balance and realise we’re falling. Time slows to a halt and life seems to blur out of existence. This illustration portrays the silence before the chaos.

Fluid

Golden tendrils grow out of empty eye-sockets and nostrils similar to the Ophiocordyceps Unilateralis, otherwise known as the zombie-ant fungus. There is a sense of hope: ideas pouring forth from our minds with a golden splendour. Creative people often become consumed by their projects, just as the ant is taken over by its fungus. Our urge to create becomes an obsession, almost Zombie-like. Even in the face of total hopelessness, there is a spark that ignites an idea with the potential to change our lives.

Feast

A diverse procession of insects is feasting on a human head. They’ve carved out a circular cavity and seem unperturbed by the presence of each other. The artist used her face as a model for this illustration, making it a self-portrait showing relentless pain and mental anguish of suffering from depression and chronic illness. She looks down woefully but also musters a smile. It is a testament to the resilience of humans, even in the face of misfortune.

Torn Apart

Distorted and torn apart, this portrait reveals golden tentacles from the depths of horror literature. A monstrous creature is bursting forth, giving the impression that it was hiding behind a human mask. One eye is slightly larger than the other, evoking a surreal and uneasy feeling, while the opposite side of the mouth is more prominent. Capgras Syndrome is a delusion where someone firmly believes an
imposter has replaced a loved one. In this portrayal, the replacement is more literal.

Eutierria

Eutierria (you-tee -air -ia) is defined as becoming one with nature, creating a feeling of peace and interconnectedness. Nature becomes human and human becomes nature. In this instance, the ultimate sacrifice is through death. Accepting death is not easy, but knowing that we’re not the only ones who will one day die, is morbidly comforting. Instead of decaying foliage, leaves and buds are flourishing, thus completing the cycle of death to rebirth. This begs the question: Is death genuinely
everlasting darkness?

Postcards

A set of thirteen postcards, with a simplistic design printed on the reverse side.

About the Artist

Lisa Nightshade is a South African fine artist, graphic designer and photographer whose art represents the macabre splendour of decay. She works predominantly in graphite pencil and draws inspiration from fauna and flora. Her subject matter tends to be on the darker side, with esoteric themes and hints of folklore. Her portraits and creatures balance on an absurd daydream somewhere between Dark Art and Photorealism.

With art running in her veins. Lisa soon discovered an aptitude for creating. She attended a high school, with an exceptional art department where she learnt the fundamentals of art and an appreciation for all mediums. In her matric year. Lisa received the coveted Walter Battis floating trophy, which gave her the determination to pursue further studies in the arts. The digital world of graphic design beckoned, and Lisa stepped out into the rat race.

Following a tumultuous couple of years, she enrolled in drama school and found her voice within the wings of a theatre. To free up more time for acting. Lisa decided to take on short-term employment only. Still, in 2015 she gave up her admin job and consequently bowed out from the acting world after one last stage production at the Joburg Fringe and National Arts Festival. It was time to reconnect with her true calling: making art.

Lisa dedicated herself fulltime to the art she has always yearned to create. In 2019 she exhibited at the Africa Art Collective hosted by Julie Miller Art Institute as well as the Underculture Contemporary Arts Gallery. She still does graphic design and photography but has dedicated most of her time to her whimsical dark creations.

“The pencil is my magic wand that solidifies my daydreams”

Artist Statement

My art represents the bewitching decomposition of nature, with macabre themes on the fringe of an absurd daydream. Inspiration finds me at the bottom of a teacup; floating on the colourful stream of a musical note, or within dust particles exploding from a fallen leaf. My technique is a trapeze between Photorealism and Dark Surrealism. You can find me, living and creating in the heart of South Africa.