Born in 1962, Karin Preller lives and works in Johannesburg.  She obtained the degrees B Proc and LL B at the Rand Afrikaans University (University of Johannesburg) and practiced law before pursuing a career in art. After a BA(FA) at Unisa and an MA(FA) at the University of the Witwatersrand, she lectured in Art History at UNISA and other tertiary institutions. At present she is a full time artist and an Affiliated Researcher in the Research Centre, Visual Identities in Art and Design, at the University of Johannesburg.

Preller has exhibited consistently since the completion of her Master’s degree in 2001, and has had numerous solo exhibitions, the most recent in March 2010 at the Standard Bank Gallery in Johannesburg. The next solo exhibition is planned for June 2013 at Artspace in Rosebank. Her work is included in most major corporate collections. These include The Johannesburg Art Gallery, Sasol, ABSA, Unisa, Oliewenhuys Art Museum, The Public Protector, ATKV and the Standard Bank. 


Preller selects snapshots and stills from personaland other pictorial archives such as family albums, home movies and photo magazines as source material for her paintings. In the rendering of the banality and peculiarities of the snapshot or film still, her work articulates a range of complex relations between painting and photography. The laboriousness evident in the process of translation gives the paintings an unexpected ‘presence’ – a stillness and uncanniness denied by their sources. As snapshots or film stills, the images are indistinguishable from thousands of others; as paintings, they possess a particular affective quality which retains the viewer’s gaze.

The interaction between painting and photography is pivotal to Preller’s work. Where painting deliberately cites another medium, such as photography, the resultant duality of surface registers the idiom of both media, potentially reinvesting the snapshot or still with a presence denied it by its mechanical origins. At the same time, painting’s more obviously mediated nature ironically reveals the gaps in translation – the limitations of both painting and photography as a means to recover a specific moment in time.

The paintings reference photographically frozen moments rooted in a specific place and time; interrupted narratives, lost stories – time inscribed both in the photographs and in their reappearance in oils. They reference not only the photographed image but also the vagueness and temporality of memory; the inability of the shapshot or still to convey anything but blurred fragments of a particular narrative. The painted surface, seemingly the very antithesis of the fragmentation and elusiveness of the photograph, is what holds and refocuses the viewer’s attention; painting becoming content and signifier in itself. Her work has become a distinctive exploration of photography as a means to redefine and extend the conceptual reach of painting.  


2007 - Snapshots, Gordart Gallery, Johannesburg

2008  - Aperture, Fried Contemporary, Pretoria

2009 - Stills, Lizamore & Associates, Johannesburg

2010 -  City and Suburban, Standard Bank Gallery, Johannesburg

2013 - Just above the mantelpiece, Lizamore & Associates, Johannesburg

2015 - Stilled Lives, Lizamore & Associates, Johannesburg


2013 - Just above the mantelpiece

2015 - Stilled Lives


2015 - Vrouekeur

2015 - My view

2013 - De Art

2013 - Netwerk 24

2013 - Artthrob

2013 - Art.co.za