Deborah Poynton (born in 1970) is a South African painter best known for her monumental, hyper-realistic, hyper-detailed, nude portraits, usually of friends and family. She lives and works in Cape Town and is represented by Stevenson Gallery in Cape Town and Johannesburg.
Early Life and Education
Born in Durban, South Africa in 1970, Poynton knew from the start that she wanted to be an artist.
Poynton grew up in South Africa, England, Swaziland and the United States. Before returning to South Africa to paint, she attended the Rhode Island School of Design from 1987-1989.
Poynton's paintings are more about the act of looking, of exposing the "trickery" behind traditional artistic practices, than they are windows onto a surreal world. By constructing spaces, placing slightly discordant objects amongst seemingly natural landscapes, Poynton creates a tension within her work that is intended to make the viewer uncomfortably aware of the act of perception. While most of her work can be categorized as realism, a few series depart from her usual aesthetic in a more abstract project. Her current exhibition, Scenes of a Romantic Nature, draws on her connection to Germany by referencing the landscape paintings of German artist Caspar David Friedrich.
Her work often conflates tropes from traditional art history, from compositional techniques to poses of her subjects, and the indices of contemporary life to create a sense of chaotic inscrutibility; in this way, Poynton creates work which is aesthetically engaging and intellectually confounding. This quality of her work is exemplified in her series Safety & Security, 2006.
- New work on Chroma (Cape Town, 2014)
- Pictures (Cape Town, 2013)
- Picture 1 and Path 3 on The Loom of the Land (Johannesburg, 2013)
- Land of Cockaigne (Johannesburg, 2012)
- Land of Cockaigne I on What we talk about when we talk about love (Cape Town, 2011)
- Arcadia (Cape Town, 2011)
- Everything Matters (Cape Town, 2009)
- Untitled on Summer 2008/9: Projects (Cape Town, 2008)
- Untitled on Summer 2007/8 (Cape Town, 2007)
- Paintings from The Grip of Circumstance (Warren Siebrits, 2007)
- Diptych on South African Art Now (Cape Town, 2006)
- Paintings from What Lies Beneath (Galerie Mikael Andersen, 2006)
- Safety and Security (Cape Town, 2006)
- Recent paintings (Cape Town, 2004)