Artist Biography – Riaan van Zyl

An Alchemist of Art

Riaan van Zyl, a visionary artist born in 1976, transcends the traditional boundaries of art, blending classical techniques with a modern, alchemical approach. Describing himself as more of an alchemist than an artist, van Zyl’s work is a fascinating exploration of movement and time, captured through unconventional media.

After completing his studies in Contemporary Fine Arts at UNISA and earning his Bachelor’s degree in 2000, van Zyl embarked on a professional art career that has seen him curate numerous exhibitions and showcase his work in galleries worldwide. His artistic journey is marked by a relentless pursuit of innovation and a deep connection to the stories and histories of his hometown, Cape Town, and the broader landscape of South Africa.

Van Zyl’s unique technique involves hurling and pouring car oil, combined with a mix of paint and charcoal, to create artworks that effectively slow time and capture movement. This method is not just about creating images; it’s about performing an artistic dance, where each piece becomes a dynamic expression of motion and emotion.

His inspiration comes from the ordinary things around him, which he deconstructs and reimagines using experimental media like old car oil, anthracite, and cobalt salts. Van Zyl’s work is a study in contrasts: at first glance, it may appear abstract and enigmatic, but a closer look reveals a deeply personal syntax and orchestration of movement.

Riaan van Zyl’s art invites viewers to engage in a visual journey, akin to watching a movie in slow motion. Each piece is a testament to his tireless experimentation and his quest to define a unique and expressive style. His works, featured in prestigious art collections worldwide, play with the concept of interactivity and expressive cooperation, challenging contemporary artistic frontiers.

Discover the captivating world of Riaan van Zyl, where art becomes an alchemical performance, at Riaan van Zyl’s Charcoal Artworks