Johann Louw

b. 1965, Bellville
Lives and works in Cape Town

Johann Louw is one of South Africa’s pre-eminent painters. Louw’s paintings are intense responses to notions of identity and space, as well as to the particular relationship that exists between the artist and his subjects. Introspective and empathetic, Louw’s ambiguous subjects and deserted scenes are testament to a particular psychological spirit of place and time, experienced with discomfort across social structures within a fast transitioning South Africa. There is a pervading uneasiness as vulnerably exposed figures and forsaken landscapes occupy non-descript and paradoxical spaces. Louw’s masterful handling of his materials draws the viewer in and demands an emotive engagement. Although primarily a painter, Johann Louw also produces expressive drawings and graphic works.


Johann Louw graduated with a Masters in Fine Art from Stellenbosch University in 1992, and has since exhibited to great critical acclaim both in South Africa and abroad. In 2007, the Sanlam Art Collection presented a mid-career retrospective as a tribute to Louw’s extensive output and distinguished career over the past two decades. This exhibition toured the country in 2008 and 2009, and was accompanied by a publication on the artist.

Most recently, Louw participated in a group show, entitled Endless Horizons Gráfica Sudafricana, at the Mexican Art Expo in Mexico City, Mexico. Louw also presented a solo booth with SMAC Gallery at Istanbul Contemporary, Istanbul, Turkey.

In 2009, Louw was selected to form part of Linguaggi del Mondo: Languages of the World an official collateral exhibition to the 53rd Venice Biennale in 2009. In 2010 he exhibited in Environmental Concern and Human Existence at the 4th Beijing International Art Biennale, China, and Paralleli – the official exhibition of the Sabbionetta Biennale for Contemporary Art in Italy. Louw was awarded the Ampersand Fellowship in 2014. He was included in Home Truths, curated by Micheal Godby, that opened in late 2016, at the Iziko South African National Gallery in Cape Town, and later at the Sanlam Art Gallery in Belville. In the same year, the Association of Visual Art (AVA) Gallery in Cape Town, South Africa presented a solo exhibition of works by Johann Louw, entitled AVA Alumni: Johann Louw. The exhibition is the first in a series where a selection of established artists had the opportunity to showcase the history of their practice and their progression since originally showing with the AVA Gallery.

Solo exhibitions include:  Der Abschied at SMAC Gallery in Johannesburg, South Africa in 2017; Loog at SMAC Gallery in Stellenbosch, South Africa in 2016; New Paintings in 2010 at SMAC in Stellenbosch, Terugkoms van Cythera (Return from Cythera) in 2013 at SMAC in Cape Town and Gestaltes, an exhibition of large scale works on paper at SMAC in Cape Town, in 2014. The University of Johannesburg Art Gallery presented his Et in Arcadia Ego in 2013.


Johann Louw will be participating in the Stellenbosch University’s Centenary Exhibition entitled Forward? Forward ! Forward … This exhibition is a future-oriented centenary exhibition of 100 artworks depicting the future of Stellenbosch University and higher education in Africa. Forward? Forward! Forward… will be held at the University Museum opening on 5 December 2018 until 30 April 2019.




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