The prolific and vivacious artist Victoria Verbaan paints strong, confident and erotic women in vivid, dreamy scenes. We took advantage of her visit to Berlin to learn more about her mysterious figures. Follow our excursion through Berlin’s bustling streets, studio painting session and discover Victoria’s journey, an artist with a contagious curiosity and passionate joie de vivre.
Where do you live & what do you do there?
I live in South Africa in a town called Kloof with my daughter, Phoebe, and my other children—our two long-haired cream dachshunds, Marigold and Gracie. Each day is different. It’s totally dependent on what I’m working on at the moment. If I have an upcoming art exhibition, I’ll focus on painting and researching. I try to keep my afternoons flexible—I’m usually picking up or dropping off various things or am busy with all the bits and bobs these little ones get up to. It’s a glorious and hectic juggle. But I love it.
How would you describe yourself as an artist and as a person?
My work is hopeful, raw and fantastical. You’ll see a sense of humour and personality in my daily illustrations and artworks. I’m really channelling my inner naughty nice girl. It’s fun and I love colour, although my work is more monochromatic at the moment. I have lots of ideas so I have to just “choose and do” to avoid getting side-tracked. Even though I am meticulous and uncompromising about the quality of the final product, the designs themselves retain some freshness because they are not over-worked.
As a person, I’m determined and resilient. I’ve learnt to be adaptable and to persevere when things get tough. To constantly revise and change. This Audrey Hepburn quote springs to mind: “Nothing’s impossible, the word itself says I’m possible.” It’s knowing that whatever I can imagine, I can do. To be uplifting and smile is very important to me too, so if I can somehow do that with my work, that’s what I enjoy most!
Your art seems to tell stories, like distant memories or dreams. The titles are also very mysterious and leave the viewer wondering about these scenes. Can you tell us more about these stories?
Painting and illustrating is my escape. It allows me to challenge myself and explore life on a daily basis. It gives me the independence and individuality I need to be happy. My paintings are aspirational and they’re a reminder to believe in yourself, to stay brave, to dream. They’re a snapshot of a scene that plays out in my head. Coming up with the title can often be the best part of my day. They can give a painting more depth and meaning. It allows the viewer to see beyond the painting and create their own interpretation. One of my favourite titles is Queen Quixotic, which pretty much means a starry-eyed and badly-behaved woman.
What are your plans going forward? Anything exciting in the works you’d like to share?
I’ve learnt not to rush things but rather to be sure and comfortable about how and who we work with. I’m just about to relaunch my website with some new products including new artworks and a limited range of T-shirts. I’m excited to see the response to them but never realised how difficult it was to design the ultimate queen bee T-shirt. That was fun and interesting. I’d also like to participate in an international show in the coming year.
Text: Diane Mironesco
Translation: Nicholas Potter