"To me, geometric abstract works speak to our core emotions as human beings in the most basic and simplest way. There is no distraction or connotation of the recognisable."
Thomas Gouws worked as an architect in South Africa for over 20 years before immigrating to Australia in 2018, when he decided to focus on his art. Drawing inspiration from his professional background, Thomas Gouw's minimalistic mixed media artworks embody a language of pure, clean geometries combined with coarse, rugged textures and tonal colour schemes.
The artist’s intuitive approach involves a variety of media. It's an intense process of layering form, colour and texture to reveal a new interconnectedness of parts. The muted colour palette of his painted timber collage works is inspired by nature, as he draws on a medley of concepts such as landscape, time, memory, and connection.
Q. How did you get started on your journey as an artist after working in the architectural field for a long time?
A. I’ve always had a keen interest in art and have been doing art on the side. After immigrating to Australia in 2018, I decided to take a break from architecture and focus more on my art.
Q. How did your architectural background inspire and influence your artworks today?
A. My approach to art is very architectural. I love to combine the geometric precision of architecture with very textural paint finishes in my work. My works are constructed from painted pieces of timber almost in a similar way as one would build an architectural model.
Q. Can you describe the artistic process of creating each artwork?
A. I plan each artwork digitally, but it is always only a guideline. I decide on a colour palette for a painting and then paint timber boards in various shades and textures. I then laser-cut the background grid and the various geometric shapes. I use my digital composition as a starting point, but then follow a more intuitive strategy of layering the shapes and colours, always aiming to create a sense of balance. It mostly turns out very different from the original concept, but I love how an artwork grows and evolves, and how the unexpected colour combinations and compositions that happen by accident give an artwork its unique strength.
Q. You seem to have worked with various mediums. How does each material and colour relate to and impact your artworks?
A. I like to explore different mediums and use different techniques and tools to create interesting textures in my works. This process of experimentation often leads to new directions.
Q. Your artworks seem to be exploring the complexity of space and dimensions. What are your approaches to such explorations? have you come across any revelations?
A. I like to explore the tensions and dialogue created between different pure geometries. In this process of experimentation, I focus on the space created between various shapes when placed in different compositions. Circular shapes in particular hold a fascination for me as their inherent properties bring energy and movement to a composition.
Q. Your artistic approach seems experimental, do you have any interesting discoveries or fun stories during your art creation process to share?
A. I like to experiment with different textures in wet paint. This forces me to be more intuitive when trying new things as I usually don’t have a lot of time before the paint dries to think about what I’m going to do next.
Q. Your artworks have a strong focus on minimalistic geometric shapes and give off a sense of calmness. Is there any specific message that you are trying to convey through them?
A. To me, geometric abstract works speak to our core emotions as human beings in the most basic and simplest way. There is no distraction or connotation of the recognisable. This frees the mind to experience pure colour, form and composition. In my works, I do try to convey a sense of calmness & harmony - colour plays a big part in this.
Q. You stated that the muted tone of your artworks draws connections between nature and humans. Why is nature important to you and how do you see it in its manifestation in our lives?
A. I believe we all need a connection with nature - even more so if you live in a city. With my works I aim to bring the colours & textures of nature into the homes of collectors, bringing with it a sense of calm & peacefulness.
Q. The Mornington Peninsula has a beautiful landscape, do you think where you stay also had an influence on your artworks?
A. Most definitely. My artworks are directly inspired by the colours and textures of the Mornington Peninsula. I love exploring the nature trails & walks around the beautiful coastal and forest landscapes, always visually documenting the colour palettes & textures I encounter. These usually manifest in my artwork later on.
Q. Can you tell us more about the timber material and its handling techniques involved in your artistic creations? Also, what does the use of this material mean to you?
A. I use environmentally friendly MDF (Medium Density Fibre) board. Because MDF is constructed primarily from wood fibre, many wood shavings and other portions of the wood that might normally be discarded can instead be recycled into MDF production.
Q. Are there any other artist mediums or materials you would like to try out in the future?
A. I experimented with sculpture years ago and would like to explore it more at some stage in the future. I also experiment with photography a bit on the side and really enjoy playing with light & composition - it probably also influences my artwork to some degree.
Q. Could you describe your work in 3 words?
A. Geometric, Textural, Tonal