Artist Isabelle du Toit presents a collection of paintings that explore biodiversity and the relationship between humans and the natural world. See more of her work on her website.
I am a French South African artist working in the United States. My primary subject matter has been the protection of wildlife.
For the past twenty-two years my goal has been to give a voice to animals.
I use my signature dark background to show off their beauty; these dark backgrounds force me to be as honest and truthful as possible with my subject matter and its execution.
I paint in oil on canvas and all my subjects are painted life size. My work is extremely detailed—I use the smallest sized brush. I feel it is important for the viewer to be able to come very close to the painting and appreciate the fine detailed work.
In my paintings, I use animals to relate to human issues. I stress the importance of biodiversity in the wild to convey messages about bigotry, racism and homophobia.
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In this way, I hope to illustrate the idea that if we can appreciate and love the biodiversity of wildlife, then we should be able to feel the same way about each other’s culture, religion, race and so on.
So much beauty can be found in society if we look at the world through the lens of nature.
To further illustrate this point, I sometimes use the juxtaposition of non-compatible animals in a painting as a way to convey the hope of peace, understanding and compromise between people of different backgrounds.
I include figurative work to open a wider conversation about our responsibilities to the planet and each other; for instance, I sometimes incorporate human babies to encourage a discussion about how wildlife is the key to making us compassionate and kind.
I am hoping that the depiction of children in my work will encourage my viewers to take a stronger stance on climate change.
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