Riaan has been working in a representational style for most of his artistic career, painting and sketching landscapes and still lifes since he was a young boy. Early in his high school years (1999) he won the junior entrepreneurial award of the year in what was then known as Pietersburg [Polokwane], South Africa, for making art and selling his art in local art shops.
In 2016 he embraced conceptual art as a modality to study and understand his cultural context. It was this incentive together with the mentorship of Majak Bredell in her studio near the foothills of the northern Drakensberg that brought about the Visibility body of work which we explore in the next section.
The Visibility work consists of graphite, charcoal, and pastel sketches, lithographs, drypoint etches, and a single monotype. The work is done in a grungy aesthetic to refer to the copying of an original up to a point where the authenticity of the original is lost; alluding to the notion of imitation and the resultant loss of personal integrity through imitation.
The work is also done in monochrome to emphasize the notion of one as a singular entity which refers to the larger theme of the body of work. The Visibility work is a study of monism; ‘monos’ being Greek for ‘single’, or ‘one’, and Riaan’s usage of monism relates to the notion of a single overarching meta-narrative, such as the narrative of religious fundamentalism, scientific reductionism, or the single and absolutist narrative of postmodern plurality.
The Visibility work also features a lot of mazes and pyramids. The function of a maze differs from the function of a labyrinth; a maze throws one out of kilter by keeping one out of the centre (alluding to one’s own centre), while a labyrinth has only one path and that is to the centre. For this body of work, mazes were primarily employed to reinforce mechanisms which detract from a path toward one’s centre. The pyramid is used as a power structure with one point suspended above two other points, subsuming their individuality into itself; almost like a single overarching meta-narrative or absolute truth which absolves all other points with an emphasis on ascension as the teleological process. The Visibility work is also a call for the importance of a descending narrative through depth psychology, depth ecology and movements that aim to integrate the deep psyche, as opposed to only having a singular goal represented and enforced by the superego (eye above the pyramid).
Under monism, neither the mystery of the self nor the mystery of the other can reveal itself through its own inherent teleological process. There can also be no authentic dialogue between a self and another, there can only be a cognitive reflection of social blueprints of the reality informed by the larger semiosphere (maze) and there can only be flat maze people who conformed so much to the maze map that they lost their depth as they sublimated their sense of self into the monism of the belief system or power structure (pyramid) they bought into.
As a graphic artist, Riaan executes graphic renderings for clients in the architectural, interior design, landscape architecture and similar industries that make use of 2D graphic representation.
Art Merit Awards
Merit Award: Sanlam junior entrepreneur of the year as a self-employed artist (1999)
Merit Award: Springs arts and music festival, A+ Diploma for painting (2000)
Merit Award: Johannesburg East Rand Arts competition, 1st place for painting (2000)
Merit Award: TUT, Certificate for best overall achievement in Communication Design (2009)
Merit Award: TUT, Certificate for best overall achievement in Drawing (2009)
Haenertsburg Arts & Crafts Fair, Haenertsburg (1998)
Bosveld Jagters Vereniging, Pietersburg [Polokwane] (2000)
Marie Vermeulen Breedt Gallery, Brooklyn (2009)
Chris Tugwell Gallery, Brooklyn (2009)
Dimitrov Gallery, Dullstroom (2013)
Golden Goose Art Gallery, Southdowns (2015)
Trent Art Gallery, Waterkloof (2019)
Respek Gallery, Waverley (2019)