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Aleta Michaletos evades neat categorization. She is a professional Pretoria-based artist, who has established herself as an autonomous but respected voice in contemporary South African art. She has also received international recognition and acclaim. She is a serious art collector and for the past 30 years, she has been the director of an independent art gallery, of which she is the founding member. It has served as a platform for promoting emerging artists and for housing and exhibiting her art. In 1974 she received her B.A.F.A. from the University of Pretoria and ever since, she has actively served on several art-related committees. On occasion she has been a guest speaker at Dort College in Iowa, as well as the United Nations Headquarters in NY. Closer to home she has acted as guest lecturer at the University of Pretoria and the Open Window Art Academy. For Michaletos, being alive, means being an artist, and when she expresses herself creatively, she feels most fully alive. She expertly employs a wide stylistic and technical arsenal, to support her broad and ambitious range of content and imagery. Her art practice is reactionary and she often implements brave and time-consuming acts of gradual transformation- through accumulation- to transform her vision into a tangible work of art (Precious Circle, 1989-1994) She is a serial problem solver and her relentless quest, is to find meaningful and unique answers to each successive question that life and her art, demand of her. (Playing it Safe/Safe Haven: Cranium, 2002) She comfortably moves between various artistic disciplines and although her reflective and philosophical thoughts, as well as her art making process and diverse techniques are precise, complex and varied, they are all subtly but skillfully interconnected. Over the past 40 years several delicate golden threads have been subliminally woven through each seemingly unrelated subject, thoroughly connecting them into a powerful artistic statement. Her oeuvre is enriched by paradox and when viewing the span of her life’s work, the continual balancing of opposites is the central (yet not deliberate) theme. Texture/smooth, order/chaos, intellectual/playful, dark/ light, positive/negative, the list is endless. All are equally important in their various functions and it is the diversity of her work that is vital to its comprehensive significance. She is acutely aware of her surroundings and she responds intuitively to the contradicting energies that underpin the dynamic of global and specifically South African politics. Her response to a society fraught with violence and crime is to create works that not only embody exceptional beauty and radiate calm but also the realization of monumental conceptual projects, that are able to promote harmony, peace and the eventual triumph of the human spirit. She remains deeply committed to an art that accelerates positive social transformation, focusing on a harmonious reconciliation of the opposing forces (‘Rebirth’, 1994) She is well travelled and she has exhibited and lectured widely over several years. Her work is included in numerous public, University, corporate, and also private collections worldwide. In 1991 she presented a retrospective at the Karl Hover Museum Ettlingen, Germany and in 1994 she received the United Nations Art & Philatelic Award in New York. Over the years, she has been profiled and interviewed extensively on local and International television, as well as the media. Michaletos has an open and inquisitive mind and she is continually exploring new terrain. She thoroughly researches that which interests her or enriches her art, as she immerses herself in her subject. Although her works have broad appeal and are visually attractive, they possess a solid intellectual and credible backbone. Her paintings are visually intelligent and rich in cultural references (‘Culture Queen, 1989’) A respected SA philosopher, author and spiritual leader, described her as ‘Avant garde’ as far back as 1994. She literally and figuratively expands her horizons through the physical adventure of frequent travel and the intellectual stimulus of wide reading, as well as the regular enrollment in related courses and seminars. She is passionate about deepening her understanding of the complexities of life and her rich experience and accumulated wisdom, is expressed in meaningful works that are deeply saturated with metaphor. All of this is brought into full play, when she is able to mentor and inspire others. Her mottos are: ‘Luck is when being prepared meets with opportunity’ and ‘baby steps, giants strides, quantum leaps.’ Over the years she has deeply explored central themes as original ways of solving problems. With each new painting, recurring images and symbols are transformed and renewed as novel permutations develop from a spontaneous ‘cross-fertilization’ or parthenogenesis, when recurring elements reverberate between pictures and integrate the production of a fascinating and complex body of work in multiple mediums. Because of this working method, it stands to reason that a series always remains open-ended. For this reason, she groups her work by theme or technique, rather than a seemingly chaotic chrono-illogical arrangement. When visiting her studio and gallery, collectors, connoisseurs, art lovers as well as students or laymen, are intrigued by the exquisite detail and depth of her multifaceted oeuvre, as well as the insightful and illuminating anecdotes that she liberally shares on such occasions and where one may experience the wealth of her life’s fruitful journey.

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Aleta Michaletos

Aleta Michaletos

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