Extracts from articles by Trish Baum for Fine Living Magazine, Renaissance Magazine & Kulula.com
Other than to say that artist Rachelle Bomberg is an international success story, this Cape Town-based painter defies easy categorization. As you think you have comfortably fitted her, or her work, into an easily labeled compartment, the visual changes hue, the shape reforms, the context alters, your emotions shift - and so you have to unpack your ideas, discard some preconceived notions and start all over again. And this is Bomberg - a continuous, multi-dimensioned series of planes that makes mockery of linear time and space. She is living and working endings and beginnings. Bomberg is a fearless renewal personified. She is a challenging continuum.
To come face to face with the artist is to meet a luminous creature somewhere between feisty fairy and naughty nymph. She is petite and fragile-looking but her almost aggressive eloquence in espousing her passion for and discoveries of life, the universe and everything (specially art) hits one like a blow to the solar plexus. Adorned in a style which could sometimes be Ancient Egypt, a touch Celtic, 1900 Paris Bohemian, maybe a tad Victorian - and definitely quite ethereal with layers of lace and a cascading head of flaming hair - this lady should not be dismissed as an airy fairy weakling. She is woman ...
Humbled by her God-given gift to be able to paint emotion and add colour and light in a world which is increasingly overshadowed by despair and misplaced hope, she is equally confident and upfront about her abilities, her place in the world and her right to shine in her own terms. It's something she has earned, having trod her life's journey to this point rather than being chauffeured. And it is this step to consolidate all her works under one roof - her own! ...
... Bomberg's ingeniously bought a neglected Art Deco styled house in Cape Town's Muizenberg on the sleepy False Bay coastline and has refurbished it into a striking home gallery studio. Once the construction was completed, the rubble removed, the garden re-laid and the mosaic water feature installed, she had her art sent home from galleries around the world and has covered the walls and filled the spaces of her own domain with her giant, magnificently-framed canvases. Refusing to go meekly into middle aged maturity and be content with all that she has achieved so far. She simply has too much more to explore, to express ...
... "I am a very spiritual person. My work is about life's journey - My inspiration as I approach a work is almost a calling from the universe to express something which needs to be seen or felt by a wider audience. I am, I suppose, a conduit for a higher message. Yet there is not avoiding the truth that we live on a material plane in the here and now and need "matter" to survive and grow. However, as with all dualities which provide life's riddles this issue of work and reward, ethereal and physical, is a key to our transcendence. Taking charge of our own destinies and finding the balance - and making peace between the spiritual and the material is what s needed to free ourselves to move on to a higher plane".
Viewing Bomberg's work demands that one take a few steps back to see the bigger picture – quite literally. Her canvases are huge and rarely fit a frame less than 1m x 1m and the images insist that you spend time assimilating the themes – which may at first glance appear quite dark and daunting. And then s you move your eyes round the landscape and refocus your thoughts, you cannot help but be drawn down alleyways of possibilities created by paint and brush. And always you are drawn t the light – a light that has been synonymous with Bomberg's art since her first solo show at the Lidchi Art Gallery in Johannesburg in l979 and her meteoric launch onto the art scene. And now more than 20 years on as the world battles to negotiate a new hope, Bomberg's art has truly found its proper time and renewed relevance.
In May 2002 Bomberg took her Journey To Infinity series, to the O'Bernier Gallery in La Jolla, California, for a three-week solo exhibition. Inspired by a camping trip into the Swartberg Mountains, the exhibition was a success. All but three of her canvases sold. And although she paints mainly in abstracts using landscapes, water, colour upon colour and light to communicate, it is interesting to note that the three works which remained unsold were inspired by the September 11 attacks on New York and Washington. Bomberg simply smiles at this irony. She won't go so far as to make a judgment about a world in denial, but instead she responds by reshaping the topic into talk about the cycles of death and rebirth, endings and renewal, darkness and light. "People talk about good and evil - but really the polarity is love and fear. Life is love and to know love one must transcend fear. In every phase of one's life and in every situation you need to have courage and find the will not to shrivel up and die – and then you also need to learn when to yield".
Bomberg is a master of renewal and reinvention, having crossed many personal Rubicons, sometimes stumbling, but in the end always dancing into the light. Her journey is magnificently diarised in layers of oil and offered to all to share in the similarities and take heed of the warnings. And because her journey continues, so does her art.
And the good news is that this London-born and educated artist is choosing to remain right here in South Africa. "I came to South Africa in 1973 and made my transition to art here", says this former air stewardess and niece of 20th century British painter, David Bomberg. "This is where I have created my home, housed my works - and where I'll be staying".
... an extraordinary woman who wields her brush like a wand to create spellbinding works of transition and transformation.
Melvyn Minaar art critic - Opening speech Sasol Art Museum 2012
Odyssey Issue 2, 2013, Rachelle Blomberg Feature
Spirit in the Mass - A speech by Beezy Bailey, 2006
Extracts from articles by Trish Baum for Fine Living, Renaissance, Kulula, 2004 - 2005
Cape Gallery 2000
Extracts from an article by Mary-Ann Hart
Press Release Primart Gallery l997
Critiques early 1980's
Odyssey Magazine 1980