If drawing, like Paul Klee, famously stated, is taking a line for a walk, then Strijdom van der Merwe is taking the line for a walk in the park in his new solo exhibition; LINE.

A line has a definite function in society: it indicates and controls the way we move within a landscape. It also becomes a remnant of humankind’s presence in the landscape. Maps and borders are embedded into the landscape and become signifiers of the control we believe to have over the landscape. On the other hand, a line is a beautiful, minimalistic shape that holds an abstract beauty. Within the visual art, it becomes a principal means of visual expression. Strijdom van der Merwe indulges himself in these notions and thoughts around a simple line in his new exhibition, LINE.

Strijdom van der Merwe primarily draws his inspiration for his new body of work from the landscape. Here the use of the line becomes a subtle reminder of humankind’s imposition on the landscape, although it is visually expressed as an aesthetical shape. LINE is a two-fold exhibition that consists of the documentation of land artworks with paintings and sculptural paintings of road markings.

The documentation of land art presented in LINE become remnants of Van der Merwe’s transient land art. Over time the shapes and lines created during land art-making dissolve into the landscape. Land art is captured and displayed through videos and photographs, as these mediums encapsulate and preserve the land art. Van der Merwe’s land artworks are generally created from materials found on a chosen site and therefore these sculptural forms take shape in relation to the landscape. On occasion, the artist will incorporate materials that are brought in to the landscape to make a statement about our relationship with the land. The artist’s land art evolves from a process of working with the natural environment, where he re-shapes elements and materials that he finds on site into geometrical forms. 


In his land art, Van der Merwe thematically incorporates the line as an indication of his own interventions in the landscape. Simultaneously the use of lines refers to his interest and study of Ley Lines or better known as energy lines. Ley Lines are the apparent alignments of landforms which are believed to have spiritual significance.


The painting presented in this body of work was conceived by Van der Merwe as he found himself drawn to the abstract qualities in the aesthetics that lies within road markings. Once these lines are replicated as abstract, framed paintings, they become an abstract moment where the colours, textures and layers it holds can be appreciated. The accompanying sculptural paintings examine the relationship between human existence and our interaction with the landscape. With these sculptural forms, Van der Merwe explores the different angles and perspectives observed in road markings. In doing so, he creates a new visual language of minimalism, within the broader sense of acknowledging the reason and importance of these lines. These works subtly question the notion of ownership mankind has over the landscape. Often, our influence onto a landscape and the marks we leave behind are the basis through which we are present within the landscape, instead of having our presence directed by the landscape itself.

LINE presents various artistic mediums of expression in one exhibition. The land art, paintings and sculptural forms has a relation to each other: they revere and speak about the relation between the land and the line. Van der Merwe masterfully depicts the line as a beautiful minimal shape as he takes it for a walk in the landscape.  Then he unveils it as an imposition on the landscape. Above all; the landscape will always be his main inspiration.

First was the land, always the land.
— Strjidom van der Merwe

*LINE by Strijdom van der Merwe is on display at Lizamore & Associates from 30 November 2017 to 27 January 2018. Kindly note that the gallery will be closed for the holidays from 15 December 2017 to 11 January 2018.