Larita was born in Bloemfontein in 1986, and grew up in Cape Town, where she still lives and works today.
In her creative practice, she explores various art-making processes, from painting and drawing to soft-sculpture and collage. Like the work of the early twentieth century Surrealists she admires, her pictorial juxtapositions, and the drawings they are often combined with, are spontaneous and automatic.
Larita received a BA in Fine Arts (2009) and an MA in Visual Art (2012) from the University of Stellenbosch. In 2012, she was invited to an artist residency programme at a new media gallery in Finland. Her work has been selected in a number of group exhibitions and art competitions in South Africa and abroad. A highlight was her inclusion in the travelling exhibition, "Making Africa: A Continent of Contemporary Design," hosted by the Vitra Design Museum in Germany.
Larita's most recent work is a series of oil paintings based on South African landscapes, for which she intuitively selected images from her collection of second-hand books and old magazines. This work forms part of a dual exhibition with Rentia Retief, entitled "The Long View", which is currently on show at Ebony Curated in Cape Town. At the start of the pandemic lockdown in 2020, Larita's frustration at not being able to go hiking in the mountains – an activity she loves – inspired her series of backward-looking natural scenes derived from vintage photographs.
The work, which engages the enduring tradition of landscape painting, plays with sequences of repeating horizons, and provides a sightline to tranquility during a period of uncertainty, restriction and confinement. The panoramic perspectives bring together the immediacy of experience, in Larita's fond memories of hiking in the mountains, with subtle historical shifts in the landscape. Both Larita and her co-exhibitor Rentia's work prompt a long view of the natural world, and of the personal and environmental effects of our relationship with it.
An extract from Vusi Nkomo’s review,
“Cataloguing memory: on Larita Engelbrecht and Rentia Retief’s “The Long View”:
We’re not so happy indoors. This we’ve sort of established over the last year. It is not enough to think we’ve unhappy because we make each other unhappy. The perennial problem of placing people outside of the larger ecosystem is being called into question, yet again. Larita and Rentia provide a kind of blue, a calm during a storm. We look towards not only the motif of the “repeated horizon” (Larita and Rentia), but the repeated roads and pathways on rolling and quivering landscapes, depicted by means of quivering and gentle strokes. With all the complexities of the subject matter, it still remains possible to listen to the lush paintings in The Long View (even as the grammatical contents of this title suggest an ocularcentric approach to experiencing it) and place ourselves within its world, equally conscious of the ways in which we risk implicating ourselves in the show’s principal concerns and ethical dilemmas.