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Protea Boekhuis

@ Sunday Times Books LIVE

Strijdom van der Merwe’s Sculpting the Land reminds us of the capacity of an individual to alter the universe by embracing the changing of nature

As a land artist Strijdom van der Merwe uses the materials provided by the chosen site. His 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 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, modulating and beautifying the outcome.
 

Strijdom van der Merwe (b. 1961) is a full-time land artist who lives in Stellenbosch. He studied art at the Universities of Stellenbosch (South Africa), Hooge School Voor de Kunste (Utrecht, Holland), the Academy of Art and Architecture (Prague, the Czech Republic) and the Kent Institute of Art and Design (Canterbury, England).

Among the many decorations he received are the Jackson Pollock-Krasner Foundation grant, a medal of honour from the South African Academy of Arts and Science, the Prince Claus grant in Amsterdam and the Kanna award at the Oudtshoorn Arts Festival for best visual art projection in a musical collaboration. In 2008 he was also nominated for the DaimlerChrysler award for sculpture in public spaces.

He has held numerous exhibitions and commissions on invitation in South Korea, Turkey, Belgium, France, Sweden, Lithuania, Japan, Australia, Germany, England the Netherlands and Italy and his work has been bought by various private and public collectors locally and abroad.

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