Reminiscent of 19th century Romantic painting in their depiction of sublime landscapes, the meticulously realized paintings of Jaco van Schalkwyk nevertheless retain their own identity and contemporary relevance. Van Schalkwyk considers the troubled relationship between man and the natural world he inhabits, bearing witness to the disastrous effects human activity has had on the natural environment. In his vast, absorbing canvases, van Schalkwyk presents desolate, uninhabited spaces that are simultaneously unsettling and poignantly beautiful. His interest in the human interaction with the natural environment has since been extended to his recent stay in Bali, where ancient traditions and connections to the natural world are contrasted with pollution and neglect. Drawing upon this new stock of imagery, van Schalkwyk now looks to expand his observation of the human-nature relationship with considerations of notions of the exotic, the fetish and the souvenir.
In addition to van Schalkwyk’s four solo exhibitions at Barnard Gallery the artist’s work has been selected for inclusion on curated shows at respected museums and institutions in South Africa, USA, China and France and his paintings can be found in the collections of the South African Reserve Bank, University of Pretoria, Absa Bank, Ellerman House, Pretoria Art Museum, University of Johannesburg and Rand Merchant Bank Corporate Collection.