By Andrew Mulenga
When it comes to contemporary art in Zambia, without doubt Carol Aslin is the queen of fantasy. She always seems to have the gift and ability to draw us into her dreamlike world of charming fairy-tale, flower fields, angels and space travel.
|Nude Study, 2014, 38 x 30 oil on board|
She never shies away from her European heritage, this seeps through in her more realistic works in the form of a neo-impressionist colour schemes, references of romantic Victorian imagery that feature women in long flowing frocks, and subject matter such as boating and horse riding herself being an avid rider and winner of an international tournament or two.
Her last solo exhibition entitled Dreaming, that was held at the Alliance Francaise in Lusaka was not just entertaining but it was also a commercial success if the red dots (sales stickers placed beside a work of art to indicate it is sold or booked) were anything to go by, meaning she must have done her ground work, perhaps by inviting the right people to the opening.
This year Aslin returns with a show of about 25 works, a mixture of paintings, monoprints and drawings entitled "Split Dimensions" that runs from 29 August to 4 September in which she explores the beauty and humour of nature and the fragility of Life.
Unfortunately her latest show is strictly by invitation at a private residence in Lusaka but if you are not invited and really insist on seeing the work you will have to contact the artist through her website which can be googled by typing in her full names.
“My ideas and thoughts are continually changing from life’s experiences and influences and so is my art. It takes me about two years between shows and in that time I explore and experiment until I have something that consolidates into a body of work,” she elaborates in her artist’s statement “This exhibition “Split Dimensions” is the result of the last two years of thoughts, travels and perception. Reality and dreams, joy and sadness, life and death.”
But although she mentions sadness and death, these are concepts relatively hard to trace in her work whose mood – by means of colour – is happy and to a large extent full of life, hinging on playfulness.
On the technical side she uses oils on canvas or board as well as printing inks on 300grm paper. She has spent a lot of time experimenting with different materials and techniques and often works on several pieces concurrently when in her well-equipped painter’s studio in Kabulonga, Lusaka.
|The Poppy Field Monoprint 65 x 44|
Earlier this year she exhibited in London at the Chelsea Arts Club where she has been a member since 2013, while there she also spent some time at Heatherley’s Art School working in printmaking, painting ,life drawing and sculpture workshops.
Carol was born in Zimbabwe, grew up in Kitwe on the Copperbelt and was education in South Africa. After school she moved to London where she worked in film. She later moved to New York and was a student at The Art Students League and the Parsons School for 5 years.
After her US stint she returned to London and there she worked at Old Master Paintings in Piccadilly, still restless, she started her own interior design company.
In the late 1990s she returned to Zambia and this time she settled in the Luangwa Valley. She fell in love with the wilderness and started producing landscapes and wildlife paintings as well as some abstracts that she would bring to Lusaka for exhibitions, Musikili, Ababa House and the Alliance Francaise being her favourite haunts for the past decade.
During this period she attended Ernst De Jong’s Art Academy in Pretoria where she painted for 3 years as a visiting artist and is part of the group he has named “The New Individuals”. The influential academy is responsible for some design products that include The South African Banknotes; Five Roses Tea and South African Bureau of Standards among many others.