Born in Johannesburg, South Africa, in 1946, he shows great talent for music at an early age. After having studied piano at the Pretoria Conservatory Meiring goes to Europe to continue his musical education. Although his formal education is devoted to his music, he spends much of his time teaching himself how to draw and paint. He soon discovers that he has a prodigious talent for the visual arts. In fact, his hobby of painting becomes his consuming passion and begins to overshadow his career as a musician. He has a successful exhibition in Deurle, Belgium and his career as a painter is launched. Soon after this exhibition Meiring is approached by numerous galleries in Europe, America and Japan with offers of other exhibitions.
In his work he tries to achieve a pictorial balance between colour, imagery and a special technique that is probably a legacy of his classical training. As one reviewer wrote; “Meiring’s work suggests musical movement even though they speak their own pictorial language”. The comparison of his paintings to music, is not merely a device for understanding these works. His paintings provoke an emotional and spiritual uplift similar to the rush of feeling that occurs upon hearing a well-played concerto.
The emotional timbre of his paintings is developed as “Intimate Symbolism”, a phrase which captures the emotional and spiritual contents of his work. The meaning of this expression is bizar, unreal and dream-like and creates a variety of arts that is like visual poetry in it’s development of ideas. The recurring motifs he uses are elegant and elongated figures of extraordinary grace and exotic creatures that are often framed by gold or silver leaf and rich patterns. The subject of this “poetry” is the emotional space and spiritual atmosphere of his own inner world.
To the viewer Gabriel Meiring’s paintings evoke feelings of “Art Nouveau” or the “Vienna Movement” of the early 20th century. With Klimt he shares the taste for elegant figures, elaborate ornamentation and layers of dazzling patterns. He is also akin to Klimt in his sophisticated and occasionally erotic sensibility. In order achieve these effects it is necessary for the artist to have a viruoso’s control of his media, and indeed the finish and refinement of his panels is worthy of the viewer’s attention. According to Meiring the paintings must delight the senses as well as the mind.
Oil on silk
This a very rare technique! Let us be clear; painting on silk is one of the oldest techniques in painting. Think of all the Chinese and Japanese paintings. The difference is that all these ancient paintings on silk were done with water based paints. What makes my technique unique is the fact that I paint with oil paint on silk.It is an extremely difficult and laborious technique, but the end result is very gratifying. The 'normal' support for oil paint is generally canvas. In contrast to this organic product, Silk is an animal product. We all know the cycle of silkworm to moth to cocoon.
To create this technique I took my inspiration from the famous Flemish painters, the brothers Van Eyck. The silk is stretched on wood panels and then the silk is prepared with seven layers of ground paint. Always bearing in mind to keep the texture of the silk intact.Only after this long and intensive process, can the actual painting begin.
I usually start with a very detailed basic drawing. A painting is constructed with many layers; each layer with it's own significance towards the end result. Important is to respect the drying time between each layer, thus making it a long and slow process but it also insures perfect conservation. The end result should look effortless bringing homage to the beauty of the silk - such a noble product!
In contrast to my oil paintings and drawings, I take more liberty in my acrylic paintings. Whereas in my other works I respect the human anatomy in every detail, in my acrylic paintings I 'play' with the human body, seeing it more as a decorative element than as a true depiction of the human body.Sometimes exaggerating the hands, elongating the necks or twisting the body into uncomfortable positions.
Acrylic I work on wood, being prepared with many layers of gesso. Each layer sandpapered so as to achieve a smooth surface. As always the painting consists of many layers, so as to obtain richness in textures, density and fulness of colors.
For 'black and white' pencil drawings, I use only one kind of pencil. More common os to use a harder pencil for the softer grey areas and a softer pencil for the black areas. In my pencil drawings it is all about layering. As in oil painting one works from 'meagre' to 'fat' paint, in pencil I work from light to dark. Building up one layer after the other to obtain a deep black tone. It is of the utmost importance to respect the paper and the pencil as such. It is a very delicate medium and brings the artist very close to what he is doing. Never rub the paper and never erase! Thus the surface of the paper (vellum) remains intact and forms a beautiful support for the pencil.Another one of my rules is - never add white- Let the paper be the white and the highlights of the drawing.
For the colored pencil drawings, it is the same principal - respect for the medium and layering. Constructing denseness of color yet safeguarding the integrity of the pencil as medium. This is one of my favorite techniques, as it is so delicate, direct and extremely satisfying.
This is one of the oldest techniques in painting. As with all paints, being watercolor oil paints or guaches, the raw pigments form the base of the color. What emulsion is added, define what kind of paint it becomes. For tempera the pigments are mixed with the yolk of an egg. It is as simple as that. Therefore the name "Egg Tempera". The vehicle in this case is water. Tempera is thus a water based paint and allows a quick drying period. Through the ages many recipes for tempera have been tried and tested. Each artist has his own version and secrets. My version allows me to make 'degradations' without using the traditional 'hatching' technique, which is so typical in the tempera technique. The beauty of tempera is the softness of the colors. It allows for a very gracious and delicate way of painting.