Exploring identity through colour and light


Abandoning perceptions meant to differentiate, Krisjan Rossouw creates a play on Pop Art with tribal paint and traditional ritual clay, in the endless colour spectrum, forsaking imagined or imposed notions of who we are based on how we are told we are seen. Typical of Rossouw’s oeuvre, closer examination retains the personal collaborative relationship he explores with the subjects he shoots. A continuing direct dialogue between the viewer and the viewed. Continuing his signature approach to lighting, Rossouw illuminates his subjects in alternative hues, elevating them to an unnaturally saturated level. Seemingly playful in it’s creation of a club of fictionalized ‘cultures’, multiple questions arise: The perceived versus the real relationship between skin colour and cultural identity. If no two of us where the same ‘colour’, what possible societies would result?  Rossouw’s hyperbole presents a critique not only on the ideal of the ‘rainbow nation’ (the term used to describe post-apartheid South Africa) but also the greater concern of the burgeoning global culture of systemic division and the senselessness of assumed superficiality weaponized and enlisted in the drive to divide.

Below, Megan Dicks catches up with Krisjan Rossouw to discuss this new series.

Megan: Your extraordinary eye for African portraiture has been applauded internationally over several years and just when we thought you couldn’t possibly exceed the work you’ve created to date, you have absolutely captivated us with your latest series – Culture Club. This work is particularly exciting as it seems to have thrown a powerful new light on your art practice, in terms of your brave and playful visual dialogue with the socio-political interpretation of colour and culture. What does this series mean to you?

Krisjan: There has been much happening in the global political landscape around division and ‘otherness’. Similarly, and particularly across Africa, there’s a growing culture of ‘us and them’ driving multiple agendas which continues to concern me. I needed to address these somehow, to better understand them. Culture Club grew from that exploration: a response to the imagined or imposed notions of who we are based on how we’re told we’re seen. A fictionalised parallel place where the idea of colour became celebratory, where we literally became the ‘rainbow nation’ (the term commonly used to describe South Africa in the post-apartheid) is where Culture Club came to exist. The hyperbole presented interesting possibilities to me. If we were each a different colour, what possible society would that yield? It’s a naïve ideal, certainly, but once I started working and shooting, a deeper resonance began to reveal itself.

Megan: Yes, an interesting thought ‘If we were each a different colour, what possible society would that yield?’

Culture Club has been described as modern African Pop Art. Yet your muses are washed in traditional materials such as initiation clay, binding the old with the new. Tell us about the process and direction behind Culture Club?

Krisjan: I have an ongoing interest in traditional adornment employed in ritual. Across Africa, traditional clays and body adornments are still used for ceremonies, important rites of passage and celebration. They co-exist with the modern. When exploring the idea of Culture Club, this idea of timelessness, where the past and present co-exist was key. Warhol’s use of saturated colour in his portrait prints and paintings, even the repetition of the singular image were early references, and the paradox of these being executed with traditional elements interested me. As the series evolved, I found myself stripping back any additional elements (like the found objects and flora employed in some of my previous series). The bright and contrasting colour between the subject and the backdrop, and the interaction with the subject (a collaborative aspect pivotal to all my work) was all that seemed required to communicate the image. In fact, the image became more about expression than colour at all.

Megan: Cape Town is a stylish and dynamic city and you and Deon have your finger on the design pulse. So aside from a visit to your fabulous art gallery – Deepest Darkest – which destinations make you proud to be a Capetonian?

Deepest Darkest Art Gallery – De Waterkant Heritage Village.

Norval Foundation – Art Museum, Steenberg Estate.

Zeitz MOCAA – Museum of Contemporary Art Africa, Victoria & Alfred Waterfront.

South African National Gallery – Cape Town City Centre.

Everard Read Gallery – Franschhoek and Victoria & Alfred Waterfront.

Grande Provence Gallery – The Heritage Wine Estate in Franschhoek.

OZCF Market – Victoria & Alfred Waterfront.

The Spice Route – Paarl.

Babylonstoren – Paarl.


For an earlier post written by Megan Dicks following her Cape Town travels – Read Here.

Opening Saturday 16th November until Friday 20th December 2019

11 Church Street, Tetbury GL8 8JG UK

RSVP essential nikki@otomys.com

Our Winter Salon in Tetbury celebrates the work of five international artists whose distinctive style and talent is recognised globally.

Rodrigo Branco has gained a reputation throughout Brazil for the eclectic  and colourful compositions of his murals.  As a child, Branco suffered from a vision impairment which resulted in an altered perception of the world around him.  Rodrigo’s condition allowed him to see the world with more contrast, more colour, more complex borders  and mixed forms.  The strong influence of his childhood has informed his practice.

South African artist, Michael Taylor’s work can be described as ironic and self reflexive. He draws together themes and narratives that inform his everyday thinking.  Predominantly imaginary in nature, his work explores notions around masculinity, selfhood and personal mythology.  Humour and ridicule feature constantly which he uses to attract and disarm the viewer.

In contrast to the vibrant representations by Branco and Taylor, Greg Wood’s melancholic and atmospheric landscapes are without habitation and evoke a sensation of loss, longing and transcendence.  Similarly, Zarah Cassim’s abstract landscapes create ungraspable, dreamlike landscapes which question our perception of reality.

Dutch artist, Simone Boon’s abstract photography further explores how life evolves over time and is concerned with these notions from a female perspective.

We are delighted to showcase this dynamic collection of works in the UK.

You’re invited to the opening on Saturday 26th October, 10 am – 2 pm
567 – 569 Victoria Street, Abbotsford VIC 3067
RSVP and / or catalogue request – info@otomys.com

Exhibition closes on Friday 8th November, 5 pm

Trevor Mein’s cloud archive has expanded with the addition of a new series of work titled stratosphere. The stratosphere wraps around the earth’s surface above the troposphere, extending to 50 kilometres above the planet and containing the ozone layer.

This new body of work continues to capture the extremes in weather and is part of Trevor Mein’s ever-expanding Cloud Atlas. Mein’s Cloud Atlas contains a broad collection of every imaginable cloud and sky, capturing both the understated and the spectacular. The Atlas, so named in the 16th century, describes a collection of maps pertaining to the physical features of land, but in this instance the diagrammatic presents the fleeting and the ephemeral as distinct from terra firma.

In this upcoming exhibition, Mein’s palette shifts from light blue, white and a myriad of greys. Prussian blue, violet, saffron, pale pink and coal black enter the picture plane. The tonal shifts in some compositions allude to a seascape, as one becomes anchored by the suggestion of the horizon. Through the less abstracted works the viewer is transported back to the celestial sphere.

In ancient Greek Mythology the deity Atlas was made responsible for bearing the weight of the heavens on his shoulders, retribution for leading the Titans into battle. The cloudscapes in stratosphere capture both the ephemeral and delicate beauty that exists on Earth thus prompting the viewer to consider more seriously the tenuous balance and long-term future of our planet.

Words by Susan Watson Knight, 2019.


Pre sale catalogue released on Thursday 24th October – request to receive a copy here.

Opening Thursday 5th September from 6 pm until Friday 4th October 2019

567 – 569 Victoria Street, Abbotsford VIC 3067

RSVP essential gallery@otomys.com

SPRING SALON celebrates the rich and diverse talent of fourteen emerging and mid – career artists working across a variety of mediums, genres and scale.

This is the first Australian exhibition for six international artists – Caroline Denervaud, David Matthew King, Gilles Bourget, Karin Haas, Simone Boon and Zarah Cassim.

Otomys Contemporary is equally honoured to showcase new work by well received and regarded artists – Danielle Creenaune, Eduardo Santos, Greg Penn, Heath Newman, Jenny Lundgren, Lindsay Blamey, Morgan Shimeld and Nick Coulson. This a unique opportunity to experience great depth of artistic practice within one exhibition.


Caroline Denervaud – Paris, FR

Danielle Creenaune – New South Wales, AU and Barcelona, ESP

David Matthew King – Los Angeles and New York, USA

Eduardo Santos – Sydney, AU and Lucena, BR

Gilles Bourget – Paris, FR

Greg Penn – Melbourne, AU

Heath Newman – Northern New South Wales, AU

Jenny Lundgren – Örnsköldsvik, SW and Vienna, AT

Karin Haas – Los Angeles and New York, USA

Lindsay Blamey – Melbourne, AU

Morgan Shimeld – New South Wales, AU

Nick Coulson – Queensland, AU

Simone Boon – Amsterdam, NL and Hong Kong, CHN

Zarah Cassim – Cape Town, SA and Paris, FR


Heath Newman’s most recent series – When I was out walking explores the metaphysical realms of the mind. Weaving together found objects, mythological characters, plants and iconographic imagery – each work looks to create a mental map of the artist’s subconscious. The structure of the series has been created with a concise understanding of bonsai principle. By using this structure Newman seeks to allow the works to evolve in their own unique way. The sun is a focal piece of these works, evolving from Newman’s recent exhibitions The Sun Comes at Dawn and Nightshade in the Sun which both explored mythological and geological effects of the sun. Newman uses the metaphor of walking as a symbol of internal exploration. Asking the viewer to take a walk inside his seemingly chaotic mind-scape to a world where nature and myth weave themselves into poetic landscapes – colours bleed and grow into geometric structures reminiscent of the inner workings of the universe.


Request a Pre Sale Catalogue.

Schedule a time to view Heath Newman’s collection within the Melbourne gallery.





In a recent voyage to the terrain of his childhood, Lucena, Brazil – Eduardo Santos traveled through temporal and geographical distance to a land of isolation and memory.

Earlier photographic work by Eduardo Santos fused colour into movement. However, in the works inspired by Lucena, the artist draws on a mineral realm, bleached by the sun. In this new series, works that were once bolstered by the magnetic gravity and velocity of the earth’s horizon seem to now float and ascend. In starkly minimal compositions, the patterns of fishing nets intersect with the trails left by the tug of the tide. Minute traces expand into vast topographies. The intricate stands for the monumental.

Ethereal and sensitive to every tiny remnant and texture, these photographs are inspired by reverence for an obscure and secluded coastal landscape. A homage to both the motherland and the mother. Here, on pearlescent beaches, the pale reach of the sky fuses with the sand and the ocean meets in an ellipse. In this unknown place, the horizon has the power to fold in upon itself, inverting the waves into the clouds. And on the skin of the sand, humans and creatures leave their trails – raking delicate pathways on the sand.

Schedule a time to view Eduardo Santos’ collection.

Browse Eduardo Santos’ online catalogue.

Congratulations to Danielle Creenaune for her work Quadern de Pedra 05 that was selected in this year’s Summer Exhibition at the Royal Academy in London.

Run without interruption since 1769, the Summer Exhibition is the world’s largest open submission art show and brings together art in all mediums – prints and paintings, film, photography, sculpture, architectural works and more – by leading artists, Royal Academicians and household names as well as new and emerging talent.

This year, acclaimed British painter Jock McFadyen RA takes the mantle from Grayson Perry to coordinate the 251st Summer Exhibition. Over 1,500 works are on display, most of them for the first time. Highlights include an animal-themed ‘menagerie’ in the Central Hall, with works by artists including Polly Morgan, Charles Avery, Banksy and Mat Collishaw. Artist sisters Jane and Louise Wilson RA have curated two galleries, one of which showcases work exploring light and time. Further artists exhibiting include Jeremy Deller, Marcus Harvey and Tracey Emin RA, and Honorary Academicians Anselm Kiefer, James Turrell and Wim Wenders. Outside the galleries, international artist Thomas Houseago has taken over the RA’s courtyard with a group of large-scale sculptural works, and the exhibition spills out into nearby Bond Street with a colorful installation of flags featuring work by Michael Craig-Martin RA.

Quadern de Pedra by Danielle Creenaune is a series created over the duration of 2018 – 2019. A Quadern in Catalan is a booklet and Pedra means stone. Thus translating to a booklet of stone. This series presents landscapes as pages in stone; each page exists as a poem of our human experience with nature, history and geology.

The technique is chine collé and stone lithography. Chine collé is a technique whereby the image is printed onto a thin Japanese paper and pasted to a heavier backing paper. In stone lithography, the image is drawn onto a piece of Bavarian limestone. Lithography is based on the principle that the drawn image is grease-loving and the limestone is stone is water-loving, hence they repel each other. The drawing is created directly onto the stone, processed and then when printing, the stone is kept damp. The drawn areas accept ink while the humid non-image areas repel it. The image is printed by hand and run through a manual Lithography printing press. The delicate wash effects are called ‘reticulation’ and this is created by the lithographic drawing ink called tusche. It contains grease and when mixed with water it dries producing this effect.

‘I began working on this series before leaving Barcelona, taking visual notes from my last journeys into the Catalan Pyrenees, a pivotal place and inspiration for my work over the last 18 years. In this landscape, I feel a sense of mediation and also intense energy. As with many of my works I feel there are opposing forces at play, balancing the complex and the simple, the sensitive and the bold, intimacy and grandeur, the inside world of personal sentiments and the outside world of nature’s rawness. I hope to continue the series based on Australian landscapes and in a way chart the transition back to this familiar landscape.’  – Danielle Creenaune.

Quadern de Pedra 05 by Danielle Creenaune is currently on display in Gallery VII. Gallery VII is curated by Anne Desmet RA and explores urban-focused sustainability. Key works such as Claire Douglass’s painting The Garden of Earthly Delights (which depicts a plethora of characters from across the arts, politics, TV and sport, including President Trump, Simon Cowell and Jeff Koons’s balloon dog, who frolic recklessly with no thought of their impact on the environment) are shown alongside limited-edition prints. The environmental theme is also seen in Emily Allchurch’s monstrous illuminated Babel Britain (After Verhaecht) and Ade Adesina’s climate-change-induced tornado that unexpectedly drops airborne sharks onto cities past and present.



The Summer Exhibition runs from 10 June – 12 August 2019 – Royal Academy of Arts, Burlington House, Piccadilly, London, W1J 0BD.

Browse Danielle Creenaune’s online catalogue.

Regardless of how you view the value of art – there’s no doubt that art adds emotion and meaning to a space and this must certainly be a worthwhile investment.

This year there has been a positive change to tax deductions on art purchases for small and medium sized businesses.


Instant Asset write off threshold: 7:30pm (AEDT) 02 / 04 / 2019 to 30 / 06 / 2020.

Applicable to each artwork valued up to $30,000.


Artist - Eduardo Santos - 010WL -Otomys Art Online

010 WL – Eduardo Santos – Browse Online.


This is the perfect time to consider purchasing fine works of art for your reception, boardroom or home office. Each artwork must be installed in your workspace before the end of June 30th 2019.

As a service based art gallery we oversee procurement through to installation. We would be happy to meet you in the gallery or work via email or phone to guide you through our stockroom selection to suit your workspace, budget or deadline.

View the wide selection of art online and if you don’t see what you’re looking for, contact us so we can refer to works in the stockroom which are not online.  Contact us for assistance on your immediate art purchases.

For further tax advice, contact your tax advisor or read further: Australian Tax Office. 



Lindsay Blamey – Trees of Mona – Browse Online.


Otomys Contemporary 

567 – 569 Victoria Street Abbotsford, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Monday – Wednesday    By Appointment 10 – 5 pm

Thursday – Friday     10 – 5 pm


Art Consultants

New South Wales | Sarah Richardson


Queensland | Jessica Leighton



Trevor Mein – saturdaythreetwentyfour2011 – Browse Online.

Otomys Contemporary artist, Ian Rayer Smith, explores the interplay of light through gestural and expressive strokes; figurative forms are abstracted with emotion and presence. For Ian Rayer Smith, the ritual of painting presents itself as a form of meditative self – expression. Such a deep connection with his practice contributes to the great sense of energy that is felt before his work.

We were fortunate enough to recently visit Ian Rayer Smith in his Manchester studio. Located in the industrial, canal area of Manchester, the studio space exudes colour and life. Paintings, sculptures, inks on paper and sketches share a layered conversation with one another. Step inside this dynamic studio space via the below gallery!

Anna van der Ploeg is a contemporary artist based in Cape Town, South Africa. Her interdisciplinary practice is comprised of printmaking, painting and sculpture. The success of two solo shows in Cape Town and artist in residence programs in France, India and Japan have been formative to her process based practice and furthered her appreciation for different methods in print. Van der Ploeg is interested in exploring proximity to discomfort and what we choose to reveal of ourselves. Using diverse materials – paper, wood, ink, metal, rust, wax – she approaches these questions from multiple angles. Van der Ploeg’s parallel role as a beekeeper permeates her visual language; the rich, ritualistic performance allows her to embody this veiled figure and mine it’s metaphors.


Request a Pre Sale Catalogue.

Schedule a time to view Anna van der Ploeg’s collection within the Melbourne gallery.


Artist - Anna Van Der Ploeg - Put Your Hands Together For The Busiest Person IN The World - Otomys Art Online

You have spent significant time between France, India and Japan – How have each of these countries informed your practice? 

The residency in Japan was also a training in Mokuhanga watercolour woodblock printmaking. This appealed to me for combining two things I love: print and wood. Since then I have included the blocks themselves into my practice. Woodblocks are a willful, anachronistic affectation in a world that has largely dispensed with ancient forms of print; the ubiquity of digital printers has made them obsolete. The use of colour and appreciation for subtlety in Japan had some influence on me. And then just being in a place of such paradox and confusing contradictions was incredibly stimulating. In India I worked in very simple media – ink on paper – and in a very hermetic setting. I think it opened a more personal dialogue in my work than I’d made myself available to previously. My days were glaringly punctuated by meals, and it lead to thinking about mealtime more generally, and how it is spent and shared. France fine tuned my lithography skills, affirming that this inaccessible medium is as unique as I suspected.

Artist - Anna Van Der Ploeg - Opposites Attack - Otomys Art Online

Having traveled extensively, you continue to return to Cape Town. What makes this city the place that you call home?

What indeed? This goddamn relentless wind blew me away with the NikNaks packets and then sucked me and my little green passport back. A friend moved to Joburg and said ‘you know, everyone in Cape Town goes on about the mountain and the sea, but, you know, I never used them!’ However, I’m here on the mountain and I miss it when I’m gone. Returning made me realise that I am, for better and worse, a Cape Town girl, a cliché I am content with. How this estranged city identifies with the rest of the country is something more complicated. The political climate, emerging voices and thoughts contain some sort of urgency. It is a space that I can’t idealise or always understand, and so it draws me in.

Artist - Anna Van Der Ploeg - How Is It To Get What You Wanted For So Long - Otomys Art Online

The titles of your paintings really speak to us. In an era where ‘Untitled’ is commonly used to reference an artwork, how do you determine the titles of your work? And how important do you find the relationship between the title and the work itself?

Reading and writing is a central part of my process. I start with writing down thoughts, links, worded illustrations, or notes from something I’m reading.  I can’t help a little cheesy wordplay, taking an opening to associate one thing to another with combining their words. It seems like a lost opportunity not to. I like the notion of the role of art to address the unspeakable, but that that work still has a title. To different extents, titles are footnotes, guides, or steal the show completely. Titles are important. In one account in Svetlana Alexievich’s Chernobyl prayer, someone says: ‘we think language, but language also thinks us’. I admire people who manage to tailor language to their own needs, to use it in a way that is entirely their own.

Artist - Anna Van Der Ploeg - Do I Look Ok? - Otomys Art Online

You have a parallel role as a beekeeper. Can you share some insight into your time shared with this extraordinary species? 

Beekeeping is such a rich practice. I took it up after two things happened synchronously. Firstly, I was walking in a hiking group and we were attacked by a swarm of bees. One man was stung more than 30 times. Everyone was stung, except me!

Then I read J.M. Coetzee’s The Lives of Animals (1999), in which an observer figure, removed from being human or animal, is alluded to. This text explores the sympathies between all species.

After that it seemed obvious that I need to keep bees! The hierarchies in the beehive and a hive’s ties to the keeper are a synecdoche for our own social structures, allowing me to probe the experience of our proximity to one another, the discomfort we sometimes find there, and what we then choose to reveal about ourselves. Beekeeping became quasi-performative, allowing me to step into anonymity, out of the hyper-visibility of being white and female in post-Apartheid South Africa. This distance provided space to interrogate the pre-accepted cast of the play in which I am an actor  – space in the shifting self-perception of young adulthood, and in making art that represents others.

I wanted to understand the relationship of a figure of power to a micro-organism; of myself to this world within a box, but it turned out I only cracked open the lid. The practice of beekeeping proved to be dense with symbolism located in diverse histories and mythologies. It is physical thinking, methodical and responsive engagement, away from the studio and making art. My fear, clumsiness, laziness has been felt in the way the bees react to me. For all the control, it is also totally unpredictable.

Artist - Anna Van Der Ploeg - The Distance between a You and an I - Otomys Art Online

After the success of your last solo show Growing To Another Sun at Smith Studio, Cape Town. What have you been working on and towards?

I’ve spent a lot of time working on applications for Master of Fine Arts programs abroad; going through the motions of interviews and funding applications. Much of the application process requires reflection on your previous work. It took longer than I expected, but the time made room for research, learning and really thinking about where I want to be in the next couple of years, how I want my work to grow and what I want to communicate.