It was Freedom Day in South Africa and I had taken myself on an extended and much missed artists’ date. I had braved an open mic poetry event at Kalk Bay Books the previous evening and was curious to see what the beautiful seaside town had to offer me on a much need day ‘off.’
I wondered down to the main road and there is a lane – nestled between shops and across from the iconic Brass Bell – aptly called Memory Lane.
A delightful woman beckoned me, “come here she said, have a glass of wine and look at the exhibition” These are not things you have to ask twice of me, so I duly did and on entering her lovely gallery called Ink Box I was utterly captivated by what I was seeing. Here were some of the greatest artworks of our time but with a significant twist. Culture meets questions, diversity, and the concept of what it is for art to be a homogenous; representative of culture was staring me in the face. I was speechless.
Cue Johan Alberts, the artists and mind behind these creations. We chatted and had the most wonderful engagement, and I thought his works needed to be seen by everyone.
Johan was born in Pretoria and from an early age was creating art. He graduated with a master’s degree in Entertainment Technology from the Tshwane University of Technology, adding research to the field of Scenic Design. He has lectured in Scenic Painting and Design at the Tshwane University of Technology for 12 years and was the art facilitator for the YAP (Young Artists Programme) at The JamJar in Dubai in 2018.
On his return to South Africa from the UAE in 2019 he has been able to focus all his attention on creating art and has had numerous exhibitions. His keen eye for current trends and a specialisation in décor makes his work suitable for homes and offices. His paintings grace the walls of some of the most stylish homes and restaurants in South Africa, Singapore, Israel, Switzerland, USA, Canada, Kenya, Australia, and the UAE.
His latest exhibition is inspired driven by the theme of ‘DIVERSITY vs HOMOGENEITY.’ The existence of differences within our society is driven by its cultural and artistic narratives. This is what makes this collection of pieces so extraordinary because he takes what is known and accepted and upends it with the introduction of cultural narratives that have been overlooked for far too long. Its frame is referred to as diversity while homogeneity is the quality, or state of being where all is of the same kind. Differences and similarities in ethnicity, culture, religion, and a variety of other themes are being explored. Commentary is given on emancipation, strength, immortality, beauty, and pain with the ultimate goal of inclusion.
Johan consciously shines a spotlight on prejudices and promotes unity through altering and reworking familiar famous artworks. Let’s celebrate DIVERSITY and a HOMOGENISED society through ART.
He is also a super cool human being and the work he has done is provocative and deserves worldwide acknowledgement for its bravery and cheek.