Eksteen (b. 1973, South Africa) is a figurative painter, renowned for his large scale confrontational portraits. His work relies on both figurative and abstract painting traditions in the creation of pieces that not only represent the physical appearance of his sitters, but also reflects on and explores their inner life and state of mind. Eksteen refers to the creation of these portraits as a quest for new archetypes.
Works are created through a process that include several sessions with a sitter, followed by digital manipulation of reference materials before the actual painting is started. Paintings are created using several often experimental techniques and relies on finding a balance between the transparent and opaque, dark and light, the controlled and the expressive. The completed images are seemingly simplistic, but confronts on many levels with it’s raw emotional complexity.
Eksteen (also known as XTN) was born at Zastron, South Africa on October 6, 1973. He studied towards a BA in Fine Art at the University of Pretoria and UNISA (University of South Africa)
He spent several years working in related fields from Menswear Designer to various positions in the Interior Decorating and Digital Design Industries. As a Visual Artist Eksteen has been actively working and exhibiting since 1996. Taking part in numerous group and two person exhibitions on an International level. He has reached the finals of prestigious art competitions such as the ABSA Atelier Competition. His work is currently included in several private collections across the world as far afield as Germany, Sweden and the USA.
Eksteen’s work can best be described as the study of relationships. This theme often explored by means of opposing energies or elements in his work has been the fundamental conceptual building block for most of his work since the mid 1990’s. Works focus on specific aspects of identity and how juxtaposed philosophies or imagery, can illuminate our understanding of self and how we relate to others and the world. The interplay or relationships between gender and identity, gender and sexuality and the contradictions between the physical and emotional world, has been some of his major fields of exploration.
His work is visually confrontational, but most often serves as a simple “question” posed to the viewer. He has presented images of castrated men (La Mort, 1998), confronting notions and understanding about gender by beckoning the viewer to confess “who they are without their genitals” He has combined the faces of male and female sitters into a single androgynous portraits (xx=xy, 2015) asking the viewer to identify the gender of the image and in so doing to expose their own gender bias understanding of the visual world.
Eksteen, is currently living and working in Durban, South Africa.
My current body of work consists mainly of portraits.
Utilising a distinctive approach to this tradition, these works visually explore themes relating to the deconstruction and fragmentation of identity. Through a process of drawing on conventions of both, figurative and abstract painting, the works attempt to visually dissect and deconstruct the subject matter in the pursuit of an understanding of the dynamics and transient nature of the 21st century psyche.
They are intended to evoke discussion on the idea of personal identity as a series of disjointed concepts in a continuous state of flux. A search for new archetypes for the 21st century.