Johann van der Schijff, Motion Sensor, 2016, Kiaat wood, Beech wood


26 january – 25 february 2017

Fried Contemporary is pleased to present a solo exhibition by Johann van der Schijff opening Thursday 26 January from 6pm-8pm.



Johann van der Schijff is an artist living and working in Cape Town, South Africa. As an Associate Professor at the Michaelis School of Fine Art, University of Cape Town, he teaches in the sculpture section of the school. He holds a Master of Fine Art (new media), Frank Mohr Instituut, Groningen, The Netherlands; a Master of Fine Art (sculpture), University of Cape Town; and a Bachelor of Fine Art, University of Pretoria. His sculptural/new media works have been exhibited nationally and internationally.

Johann’s research interests are in the areas of computer-aided design and manufacturing techniques and the design of interactive systems. Growing up in South Africa, questions of power relations in society underlie much of his work, forcing the viewer into a position of choice in their engagement with his artworks. His work has been concerned with the effects of apartheid and the pervasiveness of violence that continues in its wake. Central to his exhibitions has been the presence of interactivity as he tempts his viewers to interact with his sculptures even as they realise such interactions are suggestive of aggression and complicity in violence.

For an extensive selection of images of his artistic work and additional supportive video clips and text, please refer to

In a Different Time deals with ways in which we confront one another and ourselves. Partly autobiographical, this exhibition reflects on the dualities of growing up and living in South Africa. The underlying violence of a scarred society is set off against the simple routines of my daily life, interposed with childhood memories.

The bigger metal and bronze pieces speak about South African society at large and continue themes I have worked with since 2007 and the unveiling of the Arm-Wrestling Podium, a public sculpture in Cape Town’s city centre. These works deal with power relationships and make reference to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, the public foot washing phenomenon and the never- ending political jostling that is often accompanied by violence. The look of these pieces, made in a combination of weather-resistant steel, stainless steel and bronze, was influenced by the ultra-utilitarian design of the military and police riot vehicles of my youth.

By contrast, the other works on the exhibition, made of a combination of European and African hard woods, reveal more about myself. As I go about my daily life performing the everyday simple routines that keep me going – feeding the dogs in the morning, having my first morning coffee – the line between these daily routines and flights of fancy influenced by my youth becomes blurred.

Thus, a concave security mirror made in European linde hout (lime wood), ringed by a halo of coloured pencils, might make reference to the rainbow nation. It could equally make an art historical reference to Jan van Eyck’s Arnolfini Portrait, or simply refer to the gorgeous German colour pencil sets in the window of Schweickerdt art supply store in the central Pretoria of my childhood.

This play on double meaning and ambiguity flows though the entire exhibition. I hope that it opens up an insight into my imagination and my own confrontation of the violence that is so much part of living here as I try to make sense of my own place in South Africa.

  • Johann van der Schijff, Associate Professor, Michaelis School of Fine Art, University of Cape Town

Johann van der Schijff CV

Digital Catalogue PDF

RSG interview

Dinsdag 31 Januarie 2017: Christelle Webb-Joubert besoek die Fried Contemporary galery in Pretoria waar Johann van der Schijff se uitstalling, IN A DIFFERENT TIME, te sien is.

Podcast interview

On Saturday morning’s edition of Saturday’s Role With Reno, host Renos Nicos Spanoudes interviewed Johann van der Schijff whose solo exhibition In a Different Time opens at Fried Contemporary Art Gallery on 26 January 2017.

Beeld Interview

Afrikaans interview with the artist by AJ Opperman published in the Beeld Newspaper  “Kunstenaar wys op twee kante van grootword”