Light Tracing Thyself

May 27, 2023 - July 01, 2023

492 Fehrsen Street, Brooklyn, Pretoria, South Africa

I am Martini Coetzee. Evolving as a scholarly artist I attended art classes throughout my school years. My career choice was to study art. In 1992 I received my BA Fine Arts degree from the University of Pretoria majoring in etch printing. Finding an interest in glass in the following years I created glass pieces for more than a decade, exhibiting at art markets and festivals. Photography was always part of my creative process so when I needed to find a new creative path, digital cameras opened up a new creative world for me.

My journey in light painting photography started in 2018 when I discovered the light painters. Photographers use of light became an ongoing study for me while attending many workshops, online courses and learning digital editing programmes. My favourite light painting tool is my fiber optic light painting brush. It gives me the ability to paint with light in fine lines similar to a drawing while colour in the light is created by using coloured gels.The light painting brush or any light painting tool together with the gels are attached to a light-emitting device such as a handheld torch.The possibilities in playing with light in light painting photography are endless.
 Starting with darkness (a black canvas) I paint light into the scene/photo with my light painting tool.The camera captures the movement of the light and the object during a long-exposure. In the light trails which are free and spontaneous (an Abstract Expressionistic style) traces of my existence unfolds. There is a connecting energy between myself, my subject and the space I move in. I use different in-camera techniques but also digital editing programmes. In the artistic drawing effects and in the combining of digital images these programmes like Photoshop help me to create new spaces/images/worlds. The recently released NASA James Webb Space Telescope images is just magical. These images and also many of my own photographs I took in nature, like the moon, help create new digital collages. Like the Surrealists in their creative collages, bridging the gap between the conscious and unconscious mind, I also find this freedom of creation. 

In my theme for this exhibition, 'Light Tracing Thyself' a journey of learning and exploring unfolds. Travelling to places like Port-Alfred I found material like shells, seaweed and other crustaceans to bring back to my studio to photograph. Going on hiking trails in Pretoria I always find interesting subjects such as feathers, lichens, flowers and insects. Recently I was fortunate to borrow a cast of a human skeleton that opened up so many creative ideas. Especially aspects such as our delicate human existence in nature here on earth and also our connection with the larger universe. In my work, I create with Socrates' philosophical teaching "Know Thyself" in mind. Embodied in my work is the journey of the self, the soul, travelling with light, always learning, exploring and discovering while 'Light Tracing Thyself'.


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