Kirsten Sims The South African artist tackling pain and darkness with humor

Cover Image - Kirsten Sims

It’s quite a challenge to think of more joyful scenes than those portrayed by Kirsten Sims. The longer you look at her energetic works, the more you’ll want to dive in and befriend the diverse and festive crowds having engaged conversations in the most enchanting sceneries. And as if this wasn’t joyful enough, there’s also eccentric touches like dogs wearing swimming goggles.

Kirsten uses a variety of techniques; acrylic, gouache and ink. For details she uses pen or pencil and occasionally she even adds collage elements.

The South African artist’s messy brushstrokes and the way she stages her scenes remind me of the impressionists. But instead of mannered 19th Century social lunches, Kirsten takes these moments to a contemporary setting and draws people at a pool-party. These aren’t though taken from her everyday experience of Cape Town. “I think I paint the parties I would love to go to, and the types of people I would love to meet,” she says.

She says that some of the scenes are based on real moments, but most of them are creations of Kirsten’s imagination. “There is more than enough pain and darkness in the world, I feel it deeply. Sometimes humor is the only way to deal with big, scary, horrible things.” she explains. “Art can be many things, but for me making pictures that take the viewer out of their immediate reality and allow them to stop and engage, even for a minute, maybe stir some type of emotion or memory, that is enough.”

And she admits she is still getting to grips with her new city, so she may at some stage find herself in the social scenarios she renders so vividly. “Being so new here myself, I sometimes feel like a child playing on the outskirts of the art world. It may be a while before the grown-ups invite me to their parties.”