“Land art encompasses everything – wind, birds, smell, touch. And my work doesn’t exist until I find it” – Van der Merwe
Childhood and Education
Strijdom van der Merwe is a South African land artist. Growing up as a young boy on a farm just outside of Johannesburg, Strijdom was always taken by the beauty of nature and the magnificence of the sprawling landscape. The artist graduated with BA in Fine Arts from the University of Stellenbosch in 1984. He later received a scholarship to study printmaking at the Hooge School Voor de Kunsten in Utrecht, the Netherlands. Between 1993 and 1995, he taught Computer Graphics at the University of Stellenbosch before enrolling at The Academy of Art & Design in Prague, Czech Republic. Soon after, he went on to become the artist-in-residence at The Kent Institute of Art and Design, Canterbury, the UK.
If you are a fan of Pieter Hugo, the chances are that you recognize his award-winning work, including the acclaimed 2007 series The Hyena and the Other Men. He’s also known for photographing men harvesting honey in a Ghanaian forest, teenage laborers working at an electronic dumpsite just outside of Accra, and weary diamond miners in a rusty Zimbabwean border town, just to name a few of his series.
In one of his recent works, cleverly dubbed “1994,” the iconic photographer takes us on a journey to post-apartheid South Africa and post-genocide Rwanda in the eyes of children. It’s so named after the latter unfortunate episode that saw the Rwandan ethnic group of Tutsis nearly wiped out of the face of the planet.
About Pieter Hugo
Pieter Hugo is one of South Africa’s most recognizable photographers most notably known today for his Hyena and Other Men series. Pieter has made a habit of photographing African landscapes and its marginalized people, so it does not come as a shock that his body of work consists of peculiar subjects such as albinos, the blind and even AIDS victims lying dead in their coffins. Pieter has never been afraid to push boundaries and it shows in his photographs. The end goal of many of his celebrated works has been to address the complex realities of race and identity issues in marginalized African societies through his photographs.