Kosie Thiart

Inspiration for artwork

 If fossils serve as windows into deep time, into the childhood and earlier stages of its planet, the rediscovery of the coelacanth opened time’s abyss. Its discovery, 65 million years after it was believed to have become extinct, makes the coelacanth the best-known example of a Lazarus taxon, an evolutionary line that seemed to have disappeared from fossil record, only to reappear much later. The rediscovery of the coelacanth was of very great value to the scientific community. It was hypothesized that the coelacanth might be the most recent ancestral link between terrestrial and marine vertebrates. The vertebrate-land transition is one of the most important steps in our evolutionary history. It was later concluded that the lungfish was the closest living fish to the tetrapod ancestor, but the coelacanth remains critical to our understanding of this transition. The fossil represents a trace of a vanished life form and however miraculous the re emergence of the coelacanth was, it was short-lived, as the coelacanth itself became an image of a vanishing, endangered life form. A representative of a lost world and a trace of a world disappearing. With some irony I portrayed the coelacanth with its fossil, not just as a celebration of an almost miraculous resurrection, but also as a premonition, a decoding of the riddle of life repeating itself, a familiar trope of romanticism. When it comes to ancient creatures, sharks are often overlooked. Under the broader definition, the earliest known sharks date back more than 420 million years. I try to evoke the oldness of this creature by the representation of strata. These layers of strata form over the long passage of time, each indicating a different era. As layers of history pile up, they point towards the arrow of time and emphasis time’s irrevocability. What we lose is forever lost.


 Both the coelacanth and the great white shark are on the endangered species list. Their survival is threatened by commercial deep-sea trawling, in which they are caught as bycatch.  I portray this problem by making use of the crochet pattern that appears as a net-like structure. It also creates the feeling of an intricate and fragile ecosystem or network, in which creatures like these play their intrinsic role. By illustrating the decaying dead leopard catshark entangled in a deteriorating network, I want to draw attention to its vulnerability and also sketch it as trace of a creature disappearing.

Artist Bio


Kosie Thiart, born on 1989/04/19, is a Hermanus-based artist who obtained his BA (Fine Arts) degree at UFS, where he specialised in large-scale charcoal drawings. As a child, he practiced drawing with his sister while she was studying medicine. Her textbook illustrations fascinated him, especially the works of Frank H. Netter. Like textbook Illustrations, Kosie uses art to convey information.


In his early career, Kosie dealt with periods of psychosis.  As a consequence, his work investigated psychosis and concerned itself with the physical theatre of reality. Through drawing and investigating phenomena in the fields of cosmology and physics, he questioned what fabricates and sustains reality. Illustrating phenomena like gravitational lensing and gravitational time dilation, which discloses the fact that the universe, space-time or everything that reality consists off, has an inherent curvature. In addition, he proposes through his work that reality is more fluid and less mundane than generally perceived.  This curious fascination with the physical, natural world serves as the basis for his art.


 In his recent work, he investigated entropy and questioned whether chaos or order reigns in the natural world. Through his drawings, he proposed that chaos creates the climate from which pattern and structure can originate and sketches chaos as a vibrant and benign force. Having grown up next to the sea near mountains and estuaries his love for nature grew tremendously. Kosie’s preferred medium is charcoal, which he uses for drawings of natural objects, including the dead animals, insects and fossils he collects. The painstaking detail in his work reflects the high degree of structure and assembly that characterise living creatures.


Although Kosie mostly draws physical objects from the domain of nature, the non human realm, he likes to argue that the concrete, the physical is a thoroughly metaphysical concept. The concrete is the most abstract we have and only makes sense in relation to thinking, speaking subjects. He wishes to portray matter as evanescent and ever-changing in appearance rather than hard, uniform mass. In his work he celebrates romanticist ideals as he honours the primitive, irrational and archaic and longs for a reunification with nature, with an obsession with traces of lost worlds, ruins and idealistic childhood notions of feeling and imagination.   


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Kosie Thiart

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