John-Michael Metelerkamp is an artist born in 1982 and based in Knysna, South Africa. His practice of work deals with intriguing sensitivities about both reality and the subconscious, confronting trauma, anxiety and awkwardness. The artist has said that his paintings serve as an honest expression of humanity’s shared human condition, where an attempt at confronting life – as well as seeing its humour – has been made.
In previous bodies of work, the artist considered his past, present and future in the hope of learning about who he was and where he found himself in specific moments. His work is most fascinating when viewed across it’s varied scope; in the relatively short span of time he’s been painting he’s fast-forwarded through many phases, including (but most certainly not limited to) depictions of beady-eyed people in swirling landscapes, a brief exploration in Cubism, characterful wild animals and peculiar still lifes.
The artist says: ‘My work is autobiographical in the context of my recovery and journey to being a more whole person. Painting has so many elements in it that I find effective at accessing a certain mood or energy. I don’t step back until I feel I have something to look at. I don’t edit my thoughts and have tried in the past to find the most awkward colours that work in harmony. I’m concerned with mental states. Human life is crude and the beings in my paintings are my way of displaying the world’s agenda manifesting itself in a dichotomy of physical versus spirit.’
There’s a clearly sympathetic tone in his work, one with an honest attempt at understanding people. Metelerkamp considers himself as a student of painting and has never formally studied art. He enjoys experimenting and surprising himself. ‘If I knew what I was going to be painting a month from now I wouldn’t be happy,’ he says.