The Glistening Earth by Wehrner Lemmer  & Landscape of Awe by Johan Bloom

A two-man art exhibition at the Prince Albert Art Gallery

by Werner Marx

May 2024

The body of work presented by Wehrner Lemmer, The Glistening Earth, emanates from the artist’s life-long obsession with nature. Colourful, and some less colourful steel sculptures draw the visitor into a playful maze of solid imagery.

Wehrner has worked in many mediums throughout his more than three decades on the job. Wood and specifically South African hardwoods, have been his chosen medium for a long time. Slowly over the years more steel appeared, in combination with wood and found objects which he collects on veld excursions. These days Wehrner loves a good hike, solo or with dendrologists, and he still takes inspiration from nature.

The way in which the cosmos turns, day and night, the growth of a tree from its seed, and new life whether animal or plant, all feed Wehrner’s artistic inspirations. “Notebook in hand I make drawings as I see them in nature. These drawings then sit with me sometimes for days before they become solid. Shape and balance in nature occur naturally and without question – however, bringing these shapes to life in steel takes careful consideration and planning. Typically, I would build a cardboard maquette to show the balance between what I had drawn to what becomes 3D in my studio.”

In metal and striking colours, Wehrner’s bold sculptures mimic the perfect balance found in nature, albeit much simplified. Shapes evolve, moving forward and forcing upwards into life. Wehrner wants to portray the intense calmness that nature affords him. “The tubular curves present in many works are representative of the cycles of life around us, especially those at work in the natural world. The changing of the seasons, the season of life that I find myself in right now, underlie the expectation and the reward of what lies ahead.”

To date, these are the artist’s most colourful sculptures, and on a subliminal level, the work indicates the rewards reaped by facing one’s own demons.

Wehrner Lemmer is a Pretoria-born artist who spent most of his adult life in the Eastern Cape. He has exhibited in various galleries nationwide, including the Absa Gallery, the Dorp Street Gallery in Stellenbosch as well as the Johans Borman Gallery in Cape Town. He has been sculpting for the better part of three decades, and since 2020, after a 7-year break, Wehrner has become a full-time sculptor again. He lives on an untouched hectare of pristine Eastern Cape thicket with his wife, Annette from where they both also work. “To wake up here, smell the air, walk in the bush, and go to my studio daily is just the biggest gift that keeps me balanced and sane.”

“My heartfelt thanks to the Prince Albert Gallery which has been a long-time supporter of my work. I have never felt more encouraged to continue my work as a sculptor.”

The Caller | Wehrner Lemmer, spray painted mild steel, H 1160mm W 720mm L 1100mm


Broadway | Wehrner Lemmer spray painted mild steel H 620mm W 250mm L 650mm

Artist, Johan Bloom, presents a body of paintings as part of the two-man show at the Prince Albert Gallery this May. After reading some of Johan’s life story, the sense that he deeply examines his own obsession with nature as well as that of the human condition, is immediate. With unexpected bursts of colour from the heart of the Karoo, his canvasses interrogate the relationship between the viewer and their responses to magnificent natural vistas. With Landscape of Awe, Bloom goes one step further by drawing attention to what goes on in the undergrowth – the life that lies hidden there only emerges upon closer inspection. In an interview with Daniela Mondlane he states: “From being an innocent, blue-eyed romantic naturalist who was painting birds, I became interested in the human condition. What does it mean to be human on this planet? How did we end up here?” he wonders.

The relationship between being human and nature, and the human condition as a part of nature makes Bloom tick. His interests also include the relation between the northern and southern hemispheres, both ‘worlds’ that he inhabits as a long-distance commuter between Sweden and South Africa. He sources ideas and inspirations from these two very different places.

Some years ago, he was struck by the similarities between the rock art from the Drakensberg and the petroglyphs found in Scandinavia. The link that Bloom is drawing attention to is that we are somehow much closer than what we might think. These abstract paintings aim to reinforce this closeness and to bridge the gap between the life teeming underfoot on a massive open Karoo plain in the south and his acculturation as a Scandinavian.

The Great Karoo has given Johan the chance to witness some of these landscapes of awe. From the bone-dry earth life sprouts in all shapes and forms. The artist stands in awe of this miracle and what sustains it. Meet the artist through these compositions and a new thought might emerge. “We don’t visit or destroy nature, we are nature!” he exclaims.

So much more than simple landscapes, these paintings pop off the gallery walls in raging splendour. For example, in Landscape of Awe Bloom seeks out his subject in what he calls “the porous space between here and there.”

Recently the artist has leaned towards larger sculptural work in various materials. Laser-cut steel plate, thatch and recycled plastic are often found in Bloom’s current repertoire.

Johan Bloom is a Swedish-born artist who grew up in Botswana and Mozambique. He follows the sun much like a swallow on his travels between Skarhamn in the north and Makanda in the south. A life working as a full-time art, woodwork and English teacher has led him to become a self-employed business manager and gallery owner. He has exhibited in numerous locations, notably Sweden, Taiwan, and Mozambique as well as here in South Africa.

Johan Bloom | Landscape of Awe 2 acrylic on canvas 1m x 1m


Landscape of Awe 1 | Johan Bloom acrylic on canvas 1m x 1m


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