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. The artist 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
Barnard has presented five solo exhibitions of the artist’s works including Nemora at VOLTA, Basel in 2018. His work has also been selected for inclusion on curated shows at respected museums and institutions in South Africa, USA, China, France and Switzerland. Van Schalkwyk’s 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.
As the title of his recent solo exhibition Smoke and Mirrors suggests, not all is as it seems in this the artist’s latest body of paintings. While those familiar with Van Schalkwyk’s work will at once recognize his characteristic and meticulous attention to detail in the rendering of these painted panoramas of dense woodland and wilderness whereabouts, it is evident on closer observation that the seemingly familiar has become at once foreign. These images hold a sense of disquiet beneath their painted surfaces - a ‘certain uncertainty’ that is simultaneously beguiling and unsettling.