Karlien de Villiers' work is playful and irreverent with a gloriously dark subtext. Her almost child-like style belies a depth to the two-dimensional subject matter, which touches on keen insights into human nature. Anamorphic characters permeate her work like archetypal figures from a mix-match of different and invented mythologies. Narrative also forms an important part of Karlien’s work, as well as a wry, incidental sense of humor.
In addition to creating works across a range of mediums that include painting, watercolor, sculpture, and illustration, De Villiers also creates comics and has published a feature-length graphic novel in Europe, with another due to launch later this year. Karlien makes work for grownup children, or grownups who haven’t forgotten that they were once children, and acknowledge that life, at the best of times, is a bit strange.
Karlien de Villiers has been critically acclaimed for the publication of her debut graphic novel that deals with the death of her mother set against the socio-political backdrop of Apartheid South Africa during the 1970s-80s, entitled ‘My mother was a beautiful woman’. The novel was published in a German translation in Switzerland as Meine Mutter war eine schöne Frau (Arrache Coeur), and emerged as the second-best seller at the Fumetto International Comics Festival in Lucerne in 2006. The book has since been translated into French as Ma Mère était une très belle femme (Ça et La), Spanish as Mi madre era una mujer hermosa (Glenat) and Italian as Mia madre era una donna bellissima (Comma22) – but has to date not been published in South Africa.