Title: Grass Circles
Medium: Four colour lithograph
Size: 11" x 15"
Edition size: 20
Strijdom van der Merwe / Grass Circles
Strijdom van der Merwe grew up on a farm on the outskirts of Johannesburg (South Africa). He completed his fine arts degree in 1984 at Stellenbosch University and furthered his studies at Hooge School Voor de Kunste, Utrecht, Holland (where he studied print-making); The Academy of Art and Architecture and Design, Praha , Czech Republic and at The Kent Institute of Art and Design, Canterbury, England. Since 1996 he has worked full time as a land artist.
As a land artist he uses the materials provided by the chosen site. Strijdom van der Merwe’s sculptural forms take shape in relation to the landscape. It is a process of working with the natural world, using sand, water, wood, rocks etc.. He shapes these elements into geometrical forms that participate with their environment, continually changing until their final probable destruction. He observes the fragility of beauty, while not lamenting its passing, what remains is a photographic image, a fragment of time and ultimately the imagination. While a visual record is materially all that is left, he also leaves us a reminder of the capacity, however feeble, of an individual to alter the universe by embracing the ceaseless changing of nature, actively contributing to it and, in so doing, moderating and beautifying the outcome. These images have been transformed into lithographs.
At the forefront of environmentalism in art van der Merwe creates work that resonates with the meditative quiet that one finds in the natural world. A shamanistic like connection with the patterns and spirit of the natural world is revealed in his work. This reverence for the environment is often playful and humorous and delights the eye with the way he uses simple manipulations of materials to create something quite unexpected.
Imagine painters immersing themselves in paint, surrounding themselves in canvas; this is what the land artists does. It must be a humbling experience to be surrounded so completely by one's materials and inspiration. While working with us, van der Merwe was at the press with the master printers during the day and then in the evening and over weekends he was out exploring everything outside the studio.
Excited by the materials offered by a sub-tropical environment van der Merwe worked two shifts. ‘ It’s an art of the unknown. Each time the material/medium/place itself is a revelation.” ”There is a certain charm to the ephemeral aspect of land art,” says van der Merwe. “The impact lies in the fact that the work creates the idea that it forms part of a natural cycle. Most land artists are not interested in enforcing their own identities on nature but in forming part of a greater cycle. The landscape impacts on the artist rather than the other way round.”
Strijdom van der Merwe was the recipient of the Jackson Pollock-Krasner Foundation Grant in 2007, He received the Medal of Honour from the South African Academy of Arts and Science and was nominated for the Daimler Chrysler award for sculpture in Public Spaces 2008. Exhibitions and commissions on invitation have been done in South Korea, Turkey, Belgium, France, Sweden, Lithuania, Japan, Australia, and Italy. Van der Merwe has exhibited extensively and his work has been bought by numerous private and public collectors locally and abroad.