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Ruan Huisamen


 ‘A standard component of my work consists of exploring accepted perennial paradigms within the cultural psyche. I was never aware of any other option but to question everything.

The term realism is difficult to define. Flawless radiance pervades the depictions of human beings in popular culture, transforming the human body into one of godlike perfection. As my interest has always been people and their perceptions, my work emphasises and intensifies the features of the face, attempting to draw out my subject’s vulnerability and humanity rather than conceal them behind a façade of immaculacy. My modus operandi consists of using photographs as a point of reference to draw on this medium's ability to mediate reality and yet simultaneously distort it.

In my attempt to capture and communicate an intensely intimate presence of the subjects depicted in my work, they are rendered isolated and largely decontextualised within time and space – as something millennially distant, akin to a platonic participatory exoticism. A turned head or the subtle twist of a body in the darkness can imitate classical sculpture and feel monumental, while grandiose compositions can easily engender sentimental, demagogic, or contrived interpretations.

From the viewer I ask only for them to observe – I never try to proselytize.’


Ruan Huisamen was born in 1991 Cape Town, South Africa. He is largely self-taught, having never received any formal education or training in the traditional techniques of painting and drawing. Most of his earlier works were created using graphite pencil, but he has since converted to charcoal based works. After returning from a three month apprenticeship under Louis Jansen van Vuuren in 2012 he began working full time as an artist and has been nominated for the Absa L’ Atelier, Sasol New Signatures, SPI National Portrait and Sanlam Vuleka awards.

His work is held in private collections in South Africa, France, England and Canada and the United States.