© 2019 Karlien de Villiers.

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The Discomfort Zone and the Aftermath of Relationships

- Penny Haw, Business Day Live 2013

"LITERATURE has long inspired great art, such as Sir John Everett Millais’s 1852 painting Death of Ophelia; Ford Madox Brown’s Romeo and Juliet from 1870; the famous sketch of Don Quixote by Pablo Picasso created in 1955; and Salvador Dali’s Mad Tea Party from 1969".

And literature continues to inspire art, including a 2013 solo show at World Art Gallery in Cape Town by artist Karlien de Villiers, called The Discomfort Zone. The exhibition was inspired by US novelist Jonathan Franzen’s 2006 memoir The Discomfort Zone, as interpreted by De Villiers. The book reflects the values and contradictions of the American midwest in the 1960s, and explores human existence as a site of connection and loneliness. The tragedy of such an existence, Franzen suggests, is our own inability to find comfort in the moment and in the people we share our lives with.