Strijdom van der Merwe

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.

Strijdom van der Merwe is probably the "Greenist” artist that we have worked with. The movement that broadly defines the very diverse group of artists who work devotedly, some would say obsessively within nature is founded primarily in their objection to the materialistic and the superficial prevalent in the so-called Western culture. 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. Finally, an artist that our children could understand! 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.

Below are some of the artworks that Strijdom van der Merwe did in the gardens surrounding The Artists' Press.

New editions from The Artists' Press

Other artists's A to L

Other artists's M to X

Strijdom van der Merwe talks about the environmental aspects of his work (video)

Lithographs and letterpress prints

"I see these prints as an extension and documentation of my land art works. The use of stones as a sculptural element has always played a major role in my work either by using them as a plinth for another found object or even as a canvas to draw new visual patterns. Land art works are mostly ephemeral in nature and the process of printmaking documents these sculpture interventions in the landscape." Strijdom van der Merwe, 2014

Title: Circle
Medium: Single colour chine collé letterpress print
Size: 38.3 x 39 cm
Edition size: 10
SOLD OUT

Title: Stone 1
Medium: Four colour lithograph
Size: 38.5 x 40 cm
Edition size: 15
Price: R 3 100 (excl.VAT)

Title: Stone 2
Medium: Four colour lithograph
Size: 38.5 x 40 cm
Edition size: 15
Price: R 3 100 (excl.VAT)

Title: Stone 3
Medium: Four colour lithograph
Size: 38.5 x 40 cm
Edition size: 15
Price: R 3 100 (excl.VAT)

Title: Stone 4
Medium: Four colour lithograph
Size: 38.5 x 40 cm
Edition size: 15
Price: R 3 100 (excl.VAT)

Title: Stone with circles
Medium: Four colour lithograph
Size: 28.5 x 38.5 cm
Edition size: 15
Price: R 2 850 (excl.VAT)

Title: Stone with crosses
Medium: Four colour lithograph
Size: 28.5 x 38.5 cm
Edition size: 15
Price: R 2 850 (excl.VAT)

Title: Stone with squares
Medium: Four colour lithograph
Size: 28.5 x 38.5 cm
Edition size: 15
Price: R 2 850 (excl.VAT)

Title: Stone with triangles
Medium: Four colour lithograph
Size: 28.5 x 38.5 cm
Edition size: 15
Price: R 2 850 (excl.VAT)

Title: White Stone
Medium: Single colour lithograph
Size: 50.5 x 59.5 cm
Edition size: 12
Price: R 3 750 (excl.VAT)

Title: Yellow Stone
Medium: Two colour lithograph
Size: 50.5 x 59.5 cm
Edition size: 15
Price: R 3 750 (excl.VAT)

Title: Installation for KKNK 2008 - Haiku's
Medium: Five colour hand printed lithograph
Size: 37 x 107 cm
Edition size: 15
Price: R 7 800 (excl.VAT)

Title: Installation for KKNK 2008 - Haiku's
Medium: Four colour hand printed lithograph
Size: 38 x 57 cm
Edition size: 15
Price: R 4 400 (excl.VAT)

Artist's statement:

The prints:
They were made for the exhibition/installation with the title 'Haikus' that was done for KKNK in Oudtshoorn 2008.
45 poets wrote 163 new poems that were printed individually on the 163 white cotton cloths that function as prayers flags that blow in the wind.
The installation /artwork of 100 x 100 square metres was erected for eight days and dismantled afterwards.
Strijdom van der Merwe


Title: Stones in Crevice
Medium: Four colour lithograph
Size: 28 x 38 cm
Edition size: 20
Price: R 3 250 (excl.VAT)

Title: Grass Circles
Medium: Four colour lithograph
Size: 28 x 38 cm
Edition size: 20
Price: R 3 250 (excl.VAT)

Title: Balancing Stones
Medium: Four colour lithograph
Size: 28 x 38 cm
Edition size: 20
Price: R 3 250 (excl.VAT)

Title: White Chalk Lines
Medium: Four colour lithograph
Size: 28 x 38 cm
Edition size: 20
Price: R 3 250 (excl.VAT)

Title: Grass Circle
Medium: Four colour lithograph
Size: 28 x 38 cm
Edition size: 20
Price: R 3 250 (excl.VAT)

Take a look at Strijdom van der Merwe's land art