The inseparability of art and life

A personal narrative

Louis Jansen van Vuuren was born in 1949 in Middleburg in the old Transvaal (Mpumalanga). He is descendant of Dutch and French immigrants who came to South Africa in search of a better life.

The youngest of four children, he knew from an early age the artist’s way was how his story would unfold. The un-nameable urge to paint and document what was around him; to be able to interpret his personal vision through colour and feeling was the ultimate in creative happiness.

His first solo exhibition in his hometown at age 17 marked the beginning of the critical and commercial success to come. He studied art and design at Stellenbosch University winning prizes, awards and scholarships. During that time Professor Otto Schröder, Alice Mertens, and Dr. Bows were particularly influential in what he calls his developing years. “My life has always, and still today, holds a serendipitous element – people always inspired and supported me in the quest of becoming an artist.”

It’s been decades since his first exhibition in his hometown. Since then Louis has participated in numerous exhibitions in South Africa and around the world. He lives with his partner, Hardy Olivier at their chateau in the French countryside.

Louis’ Résumé


The Fire and Music of
Louis Jansen van Vuuren

Artist, artisan, author, poet, wordsmith, painter, designer, thinker, philosopher, sage.

Storyteller.

To capture who Louis is in words is to surrender to an endless stream of consciousness, for throughout his multi-dimensional life and career, Louis is first and foremost a passionate lover of life.

Those who know Louis will tell you that, no matter how difficult it may be to stomach, he will never sugarcoat the truth. Like all great artists, he has the rare ability to hold up a mirror to the world and show it all of its beauty and grotesqueness in a single moment – somehow never robbing it of its dreams. Instead, he inspires.

Most days, you will find Louis with one foot in the past and the other in the present. One in the old world and the other in the new. Equally comfortable in front of a canvas clutching a well-worn brush as he is with an iPad in hand crafting a postmodern, digital collage, Louis’ curiosity of all things – from classical technique to modern technology – has ensured that his work has remained relevant through every chapter of his seemingly endless story.

To borrow a line from the 1950 film, All About Eve, Louis is an artist fully equipped with fire and music. At every turn, he has embraced life to the fullest, always thinking ten steps ahead, always creating, and always giving voice to his thoughts, no matter what the medium. What starts as an idea for a painting might end up as a book, for Louis is a storyteller unencumbered by form.

Perhaps what most defines Louis – despite is unwillingness to conform to the norms so many have tried to bestow on him through the years – is that he is a South African. Not necessarily with regards to his culture (although he has never denied it), and not necessarily in his taste (which is heavily tinged with hints his European ancestry and adopted France). But in his eclectic, pioneering spirit, there is no denying his roots.

Hanfred Rauch

Louis is die kreatiewe kunstenaar wat met sy kryt, sy verfkwas en sy pen ons wêreld inkleur en ons vreugde en verwondering, maar ook ons wonde en ons weerlooshied eerlik en kleurvol vasverf en verwoord.

Hy breek telkemale die kettings van ons ge-ykte denke, hy stroop stylvol en grasieus die lewe van sy alledaagsheid en hy breek met bravade die kreatiewe granaat oop wat soms onontdek en skaam skuil in menige.

Louis is tegelyk die ewige rustelose en soms brose kind, die flymskerp, soekende intellektueel maar ook die wyse, tydlose volwasse vrygees wat die lewe se uitdagings met onblusbare, aansteeklike energie, volbors, trots en regop aandurf, altyd met sy hart en siel braaf blootgelê in sy veelsydige en kleurvolle skeppings.

Hy leef sy drome voluit en toegewyd maar ook deurgaans verweef hy dit met n goot dosis onweerstaanbare humor, wat homself nooit spaar in die proses nie.

Hy is nie snoep met sy talente nie en hy strooi dit soos pêrels ruimhartig en wyd, meelewend uit, na ons almal wat gretig hunker om n stukkie van hierdie uitsonderlinge skoonheid in ons eie bestaan vas te vang, en om dit soos n kosbare halssnoer om ons nek te dra, en trots uit te stal vir die wat na skoonheid smag, die middelmatige wil besweer, en die felheid van die verganklikheid wil verdoof.

Louis is ons mentor en ons maat, ons diepste maar ook ons uniekste Blou.

Prof. Leonie Scholtz (vriendin)


Louis, die kunstenaar,  neem jou met elke skildery uit sy palet en elke gedig en verhaal uit sy pen saam op die gevaarlike, avontuurlike ekspedisie van 'n pionier.  Geen sagte of soete wandeling saam met hierdie begeesterde siel op sy kreatiewe ontdekkingstogte nie!  Louis skeur oerwoude (en kantons) oop, breek deur ysvelde (en persepsies), verken en ontdek die wonderwêreld van die immer ontwykende, die immer misterieuse onbekende.  

En jy - verwonderde siel in sy voetspoor - beleef die nuwe wêrelde wat hy oopgebreek en (amper) getem het.  

Moenie van hierdie skilder-digter verwag dat hy jou sagkens ter wille gaan wees nie, want hy is meedoënloos en in sy soektog na die sublieme oomblik, die skrynende woord, die perfekte kunswerk.   

Maar verwag gerus van Louis, jou vriend, Louis, die mens, om jou tegemoet te kom in menslikheid en deernis. Want Louis, jou vriend, Louis, die mens, het genade en begrip vir gewone mense. Hy sal jou met vriendskap en humor  - en lang, lang etes - laat deel in die vreugde van die opwindende lewe wat hy skep. 

Maar daardie vreeslose, verbysterende tuimeling die onbekende in ... Dit is net syne.

Dr. Riana Scheepers


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