Alexandra Makhlouf lives and works in her native South Africa.
During 2007 and 2008, Alexandra suffered with only 10% vision. Literature took on a new and significant meaning for her: the words and pages became foggy mysteries between what she describes as stabs of light and physical pain. Audio-books were especially important to her during this time.
She listens to them while working. She uses washes of ink to give a 'spectrality’ to the work; and creates a palimpsest where nothing is hidden - unless it is deleted with blackness. The ink’s bleeding and pooling brings her back to the physicality painting from the story’s narrative, and her own subjectivity.
She listens mainly to Magical Realism, Fantasy and Science Fiction novels by authors including Adolfo Bioy Casares, Calvino and recently, Philip Pullman.
Alexandra says “while I don't think the subject-matter is directly influenced by the stories, perhaps certain elements of storytelling are present (particular to reading a book). Some of the images are small and detailed - the type of relationship that an author (or even narrator) has with a viewer or reader - at once intimate while also being quite removed. For me this strange relationship is so deliciously conspiratorial; a narrator telling you, just you, the words they're made of and they're allowed to come live in your head and maybe become entwined with bits of you for a while”.
Alexandra’s protagonists are silently terrified, silently screaming and silently disappearing. She says “the iodine, a volatile element, oxidizes or 'sublimates' quite quickly - it can take a few months depending on the paper, exposure to sunlight etc. She connects this sublimation of information with current political issues in South Africa concerning the implementation of the proposed Protection of Information Bill, and, what amounts to the loss of a voice for the people. Her pictorial metaphor is “a return to blankness, where the only trace of anything, any kind of action, is in the quiet folds and crumples in the paper”.