Marlene Steyn was born in Stellenbosch and currently lives and works in Cape Town, South Africa. Steyn completed a BFA at Stellenbosch University and graduated in 2011. Thereafter, she attended the Royal College of Art in London and completed her MA in painting in 2014.
Her work has been described as ‘fantastic’ as she experiments with bright colours whilst combining both beautiful and eerie imagery in dream-like landscapes.
Inspired by psychoanalytic theory, Steyn incorporates images from art history and popular culture to conjure uncanny motifs by means of repetition. She often references familiar objects, making use of unconventional arrangements to highlight unconscious and repressed impulses. Steyn is known to make use of the androgynous figure, fried egg and long, blonde braided strings of hair.
Her work has been likened to that of the Dutch master, Hieronymus Bosch yet her historical references stretch wide as one can recognise Hokusai’s Great Wave in her painting, The Consequence of Waving (2016).
Apart from painting, Steyn has ventured into producing sculptures, ceramic and bronze objects. The scale of her sculptures conveys a physical presence which permits the viewer to indulge in self-reflection. As in her paintings, she continues to play in the realm of unbounded experimentation with form and colour, producing thought-provoking sculptural works which speak of subconscious spontaneity.
Notable solo exhibitions include: Your Skin Is Not The Best Hiding Place at SMAC Gallery (Cape Town: 2016); You Can’t Cry When Your Head is Underwater at Lychee One (London, United Kingdom: 2016); The End is Located Underneath Her Third Armpit (if the muscle is flexed) at Commune.1 (Cape Town, South Africa: 2015), Mad Love at Lychee One, (London, United Kingdom: 2015) and How Cannibals Cuddle at Art Cabin (London, United Kingdom: 2014).
She has participated in the following group exhibitions: Where They Hum at Lychee One (London, United Kingdom: 2017); Another Antipodes, Urban Axis at PS Art Space (Fremantle, Australia:2017); Inside Out at Castlefield Gallery (Manchester, United Kingdom: 2016); Across the divide at Rosenfeld Porcini (London, UK: 2016); Faces & other scenarios, a two-person show with Sofi van Saltbommel at Galerie d’Ys, (Brussels, Belgium: 2016); All s-he ever wanted to be at Galleria M (Kolkata, India: 2015); La Piscine at Espace Croix-Baragnon (Toulouse, France: 2015); Inoperative Mythology at Blyth Gallery, Imperial College (London, United Kingdom: 2014); Saatchi New Sensations 2014 at Victoria House (Bloomsbury, London, UK:2014); Bloomberg New Contemporaries at Institute of Contemporary Art (London, UK : 2013) and Dreamtime: New Surrealism at Mirus Gallery (San Francisco, United States of America: 2013).