Marlene von Durckheim is a renowned and established painter whose work is represented in South Africa, in Europe and the United States. She completed her postgraduate studies at the Stellenbosch University.
Marlene’s paintings relate a generous dialogue between herself and the work of 20th century artists such as Matisse and Braque. We see her work in conversation with contemporary artists too: with Diebenkorn in particular, but I do not want to dwell too much on the academic and formal elements that certainly place her work in the top league of South African artists.
I would much rather talk about a certain quality or characteristic that is very evident in Marlene’s work, a quality that I find compelling and hugely meaningful. This quality has no material form, it cannot be seen, nor touched, yet it is something that we know and feel exactly because of its nothingness.
One is struck by an almost otherworldly presence that really relates absence, mirroring and evoking the world of thought, meditation, reflection, and memory.
We see a multi-layered silence, stillness beyond the still life, rich with beauty as much as with meaning.
These paintings accomplish a complex elegance through simplicity, harnessing the subtleties of colour and tone to trace planes, shapes, textures, deeply investigating materiality and visibility to come to understand and convey an inner experiencing of life-world.
Marlene is an observer. She looks from the inside outwards, and between these two realms, her act of painting manipulates, speculates, proposes, and shapes. Her painting interfaces between the inside and the outside, drawing the outside in to utter the inside, revealing its particular form, never flat, ever dimensional and adorned with her vision. She looks at the world to understand her own inner experience of it, carefully marking its gentle sweeps and grasps - and they are quiet, yet firm, affirmative, positive, beautiful.
Through this, she contemplates her own position in life-world as much as she tracks her experience of it.
And I find that these images resonate in our own minds. We see the poetics of silence. Marlene makes it visible, despite its immateriality, so that we can feel its quiet comforts, its gentle reminders of the beauty of this world, the spaces of intimacy and privacy that we create in our minds as much as in the concrete world to both affirm our existence in it and to understand how it shapes us.
From an opening address by Prof E. Gunter, Chair: Department of Visual Arts, University of Stellenbosch.
Marlene Gräfin von Dürckheim
Born: December 7, 1945 in Johannesburg, South Africa
BA (Fine Arts) at the University of Pretoria, South Africa 1969
BA Honnours (Fine Arts) at the University of Stellenbosch, South Africa 1989
M.A. in Classical Culture at the University of Stellenbosch, South Africa 2003
Professional Assistant, Johannesburg Art Gallery
Graphic Artist at Perskor Publishers, Johannesburg
Art Teacher at two Johannesburg art schools
Part-time Art Lecturer at the University of Stellenbosch
Full-time Artist since 1992
1992 University of Stellenbosch Art Gallery, Stellenbosch, South Africa.
1993 Dorp Street Gallery, Stellenbosch, South Africa.
1995 Sembach Gallery, Hout Bay, South Africa.
1998 South African Arts Association, Bellville (Cape Town), South Africa
1998 South African Arts Association, Worcester, South Africa
2008 Smelik & Stokking Gallery, The Hague, Amsterdam and Rotterdam, The Netherlands
2010 Smelik & Stokking Gallery, The Hague, The Netherlands
2015 Stellenbosch Art Galery, Stellenbosch, South Africa
2016 “Tides of Time” Exhibition, IS Art Gallery, Franschhoek, South Africa
1990 With Hannatjie de Kock, Dorp Street Gallery, Stellenbosch
1994 With Leon de Bliquy, Botega Gallery, Oudtshoorn, South Africa
2001 With Kaffie Pretorius, Dorp Street Gallery, Stellenbosch
2002 Exhibition of Contemporary South African Art, Chelsea, Londen, England
2004/2005 With Manfred Mueller Preuss, Galerie Petra Lange, Berlin, Germany.
1992 - 2017 Permanent group exhibitions at: Johans Borman Fine Art Gallery, In Fin Art Building, Upper Buitengracht Street/ 16 Kildare Road, Newlands, Cape Town, Ebony Design Cape Town and Franschhoek, IS Art Franschhoek, Johann Bloem Gallery, Jeffreys Bay
2006 - 2008 Group exhibition, Grand Provence, Franschhoek.
2006 – 2008 Group exhibition Dorp Street Gallery, Stellenbosch.
2009 40th Jubilee Exhibition, Smelik & Stokking Galeries, The Hague, Rotterdam, Amsterdam
2009 “Art that inspires” Group Exhibition, Johans Borman Gallery, Upper Buitengracht Street, Cape Town
2012 Group Exhibition, IS Art, Franschhoek, December 2012
2014 Group Exhbition Black & White” Johans Borman Gallery, 16 Kildare Road, Newlands, Cape Town
2014 Group Exhibition “Still” Johans Borman Gallery, 16 Kildare Road, Newlands, Cape Town
2014 Group Exhibition 50th SAADA Antiques Fair, Cape Town
2014 Group Exhibition Cape Town Art Fair
2015 Group Exhibition SAADA Antiques Fair & Design Expo, Cape Town
2015 Group Exhibition Cape Town Art Fair
2016 Group Exhibition “Aspects of Abstraction II” Johans Borman Gallery, 16 Kildare Road, Newlands, Cape Town
2016 Group Exhibition “Masterpiece” Johans Borman Gallery, 16 Kildare Road, Newlands, Cape Town
2017 Guest Artist at Group Exhibition of the Arts Association Stellenbosch at Stellenbosch
“Marlene Gräfin von Dürckheim” in: A Directory of South African Contemporary Art. vol. 1 Painting. Cape Town: Contemporary Arts Publishers, 1997, p. 80.
“Marlene Gräfin von Dürckheim” in: The Collector’s Guide to Art and Artists in South Africa: A Visual Journey into the Thoughts, Emotions and Minds of 558 Artists. Cape Town: South African Institute of Artists & Designers, 1998, p. 186.
Corporate and Public Collections
Represented in the following collections:
• University of Stellenbosch,
• Sun International, Cape Town,
• ABSA Bank
• Old Mutual
• Graduate Business School, University of Pretoria
• Vergelegen Wine Estate, Somerset West
Also represented in private collections in South Africa, England, United States of America, Germany and Switzerland.