Simultaneously familiar and surreal, intimate and overwhelming, the paintings of MJ Lourens construct and make palpable an ongoing, far stretching space of the “in between”. In between night and day, here and there, urban and suburban, presence and absence: these are landscapes of the liminal and peripheral, carrying poignant undertones of melancholy, alienation and vulnerability beneath the façade of dazzlingly rendered cityscapes and sprawling skies. Extending the “in between” to the painted surface, Lourens’ technique interrogates the space between figuration and abstraction, intuition and control, realism and surrealism; solidifying a signature style that is unique and instantly recognisable among South African painters. An acute empathy with and sensitivity to landscape and space is made manifest in these brooding, meditative images, in which the projection into the landscape parallels an exploration of the self and the evaluation of distances becomes a mapping of subjectivity.
Lourens studied Fine Art at the University of Pretoria from 1992 to 1996 and was presented the Sasol New Signatures Award by the Pretoria Art Museum in 1995. Since then he has established a career as a painter, sculptor and filmmaker, presenting a number of successful solo exhibitions at significant galleries in South Africa, including Views on Entropy (Barnard, Cape Town, 2018), In Situ (Lizamore & Associates, Johannesburg, 2017), Proximity by Proxy (Barnard, Cape Town, 2016); Werk die Land (Stephen Welz & Co, Cape Town, 2015); Peninsula (Christopher Moller Gallery, Cape Town, 2012); and States in Spaces (Everard Read, Cape Town, 2009).
Selected group exhibitions include amongst others Fluid: Perspectives in Paint (Barnard, Cape town, 2017); Masterpiece (Johans Borman, Cape Town, 2017); Future / Present (Barnard, 2016); What Lies Beneath (Equus Gallery, Cavalli Estate, Cape town, 2014); View from the South (Everard Read Gallery, Cape Town, 2010) and Metropool (South African Association of Arts, Pretoria, 2009). Lourens participated in the Chelsea Art Fair (2014) in London and was represented by Barnard at the Cape Town Art Fair (2016-2018) and Also Known As Africa (AKAA) in Paris (2017).
The artist has also directed and produced films such as Die Rit / The drive (2009), Prognose / Prognosis (2008) and Pa / Father (2006), which was screened at the Commonwealth Film Festival and was in the official selection of the African International Film Festival, Tariva, Spain.
Lourens’ work can be found in a number of academic, public and corporate collections including amongst others the University of South Africa (UNISA), Pretoria Art Museum, Telkom, Rand Merchant Bank and the South African Reserve Bank.