Unknown by Johann Louw (1965 -  )
Unknown, Unknown, oil on board, 1210 x 1210 mm

Johann Louw (1965 - )



"Louw’s portrayals give form to a particular psychological spirit of place and time that has characterized the tense transformation South African society has experienced... His paintings expresses a process of transforming psychic meditation into paint " (Hundt, Gouws & Bunn 2007).



About Louw’s art


Johann Louw’s paintings primarily examine isolation, spatiality and figuration. Louw juxtaposes disparate scenes on his canvas. The backdrop is an abstract representations of minimally habitable urban space strangely merged with the barren landscape horizon, which strips the figures of history and context. 

The paintings are executed with an abundance of paint, mostly untitled and explore anonymous bodies and unspecific spaces. The figures stand alone, between country and city warehouse interior and vacant landscape. Through this Louw deals simultaneously with ideas of interiority and exteriority.

There is a subtle ‘uneasy’ quality to his work as his explorations become more abstract in his struggles with the threatening domain of psychological and political menace and intrigue.  


Louw’s background  

Johann Louw was born in 1965 and lives and work in Cape Town. He graduated with a BA in Fine Arts, cum laude, from the University of Stellenbosch in 1988, which he supplemented with a MA in Fine Arts, also cum laude, in 1992. Louw has exhibited regularly to great critical acclaim throughout South Africa and Europe.

In 2009 he was one of the South African artists selected to participate in an official collateral exhibition to the 53rd Venice Biennale. In 2010, Louw participated in both the 4th Beijing International Art Biennale and the Sabbionetta Biennale for Contemporary Art in Italy. 

His works hang in significant private and public collections in South Africa and abroad.



Hundt, S. Gouws, A . & Bunn, D. 2007. Johann Louw. Sanlam Life Insuarance Ltd: Cape Town.


Smac Gallery. (2013) Johann Louw - Terugkoms van Cythera, 7 February – 23 March). An Exhibition pamphlet. Smac: Cape Town.