When Bruinette-Brecher, after almost twenty years as a successful artist in a well-known design studio in Pretoria, decided to start a career as a painter, she was on the verge of an important, albeit very challenging, career change. The disciplines of the art of design or commercial art and those of the fine arts painter are vastly different and require a totally different mind-set; a mind-set that many designers find impossible to adjust to.
Bruinette-Brecher is a disciplined painter; ten one-man exhibitions followed her first one, in which she battled with the crisp outline and flatly coloured planes, especially of the still-life paintings. She was however fully conscious of that which was expected of her to be a successful painter.
Most artists find their subjects in still-life and landscape. Bruinette-Brecher paints both, but with a significant and meaningful difference: she places a woman in the landscape, often in conjunction with a still-life of flowers, glasses and porcelain.
Through the introduction of the female figure, usually in small groups, she introduces an element of mystery, of alienation, into the work. The groups of women are often accompanied by a large dog, but not an aggressive creature, it is a sleeping one.
The women move through the landscape as if in a dream, not talking, not gesticulating, but quiet and contemplative. The road often leads to sombre clouds and mountains and leads one to think that they are on the road of life, destination unknown. Each woman seems to communicate with herself and is surrounded by a cocoon of loneliness.
In the paintings of recent years, interesting developments have taken place: it seems as though the women are starting to talk or sit still and at least try and take note of their surroundings. In many of the paintings they seem to seek shelter together; the dog is still there and an indication of shelter in the shape of a wall, a building, a group of wind-swept trees and a hedge is visible.
The simplified planes of colour have made room for a textured surface: numerous colour variations play on the surface like dancing speckles of light on faces and clothes.
Bruinette-Brecher’s still-life paintings are a feast of huge
bunches of flowers and luscious bowls of fruit, plants and other items a woman would handle daily such as cups, glasses and jugs. They lack the contemplative tone of the paintings which include women, but are a joy to the eye.
Former Deputy Director of the Pretoria Art Museum
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