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Pauline Gutter
Artist Bio

The Free State-based, South African painter and intermedia artist, Pauline Gutter, was born in 1980. She obtained her B.A. Degree in Fine Arts (cum laude for painting) at the University of the Free State, Bloemfontein, South Africa, and was awarded Honours Colours in Arts and Culture from the same University. She is the winner of the prestigious 2013 Absa L`Atelier competition and was also awarded the Helgaard Steyn Award for painting in 2011. In 2012 she received the Mail & Guardian 200 Young South Africans Award.

Gutter`s work forms part of the following museum and corporate collections: V&A Collection London, UK, Bibliothèque nationale de France, Paris (France), Luciano Benetton Collection (Italy), Oliewenhuis Art Museum, University of Stellenbosch, North-West University, University of the Free State, William Humphreys permanent collection, MTN Foundation, Absa Corporate Collection and the ATKV Collection, to name a few.

"On close perusal the gestural texture of painterly marks is an immediately apparent feature of the dense impasto of Pauline’s paintings. In the loving struggle and constant battle she wages with her materials certain local areas in the texture of marks appear almost like amorphous flurries and chaotic skirmishes. Yet they also manifest an emergent dynamic of escalating movement, rippling muscles, vital and monumental bodies. Ambiguity and uncertainty permeate this gestural texture. Suspended between revealing and concealing, visible and invisible, it attracts and absorbs our imaginative attention. The indeterminate and ambiguous macchia of painterly marks in fact primes the artwork for iconic augmentation in the spectator’s imagination, where this eventful fictional world’s imaginary figures of bull, cow and calf unfold and come alive in all their brute energy, raw vitality, ungainly power and mythical enchantment."

Professor Dirk van den Berg (excerpt from Purgatorium)

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Artist Statement


In stark contrast to the ancient myth of a nursing she-wolf providing the famished twins – Remus and Romulus – with mother’s milk, this work, entitled Sire, portrays the Afrikaans concept “uitgesuip” (sucked dry). The legs of the young sire is aggressively thrashed outwards, denoting a shared but desperate and conflicting claims to the South African natural landscape. The image of a familiar South African animal is contorted to represent the familiarity of a current South African occurrence. The struggling animal allows for multiple and contradictory allegorical inferences.



Expressive of a responsive journey of becoming present in, and close to, a site, its people and their lives in dwelling, making, cultivating, feeling, talking, drinking and tasting, “Crevette!” reveals a moment in time spent as an ambassador of the artist-in-residence-programme in Saint-Emilion, France. This artwork relates Pauline Gutter’s sensual narrative in bracketing the rural contexts of Saint-Emilion, different and similar to the Free State landscape where she grew up. Through gentle, sweeping charcoal strokes and forceful lines and markings, “Crevette!” relates Pauline’s corporeal process of grafting recollections and meditations onto new experiences: imaging her embodied self instantaneously here and there. 



The Covid-19 pandemic has many structural changes to the world we are living in. We have become social monkeys, confined to social media, walking virtual gallery spaces, experiencing visceral artworks. This most recent work is a play on drawing, painting and Pauline Gutter’s love for the lithographical medium she encountered during a sojourn in Paris, as part of a residency award. This work was completed at LL Editions and forms part of her upcoming solo exhibition entitled “Regeneration” at the University of Johannesburg Art Gallery.


“Fluffy Structure and the Finger of Judgement” expresses the spatial and emotional relationship between two extreme events we are enduring within the current phase of the Covid-19 pandemic: being subjected to tactile distancing while at the same time being haptic human subjects ourselves. This recent work produced at LL Editions portrays a Rorschach-like creature: potentially inviting experiential association through touch, and equivalently socially constructed to evoke the anxiety of touch. Both reaction may be engraved by the image, and yet the perceptive gap, or even bridges which narrow and dissolve the perceptive gap, reside within the observer’s preconditioned or reconditioned world. Alluding to two judgements concurrent within our present spatial and emotional state, the image simply asks: how do we simultaneously discern physical presence and physical absence? Related to Pauline’s real and virtual framework, the question diverges into questions of reflective simultaneity: Can we judge the subject-type which finds solace in absence of touch in the new normal of social media, virtual spaces and visceral artworks, different or the same as the type of subject which needs attentive closeness to the physical depth, texture and reflection of light from an artwork? 

Meet the artists

Pauline Gutter

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