Johan Van Heerden was born in Bethal, Free State, in 1930.
He recently celebrated his 85th birthday, yet continues to work everyday, creating exquisite, fresh and unique sculptures.
His professional career spans a period of 66 years to date, starting with his education at Bloemfontein Technical Art School in 1949 from where he then left to study for 2 and a half years in Paris. In Paris he studied at Grande Chaumiere, (painting under Edouard Macavoy, sculpture under Ossip Zadkine}, and then École des Beaux Arts (Graphic).
In 1955 Johan returned to South Africa and began to exhibit paintings, sculpture and graphic art. And in 1956, he participated in the Guggenheim International Art Exhibition.
Johan has worked in most artistic media, but became most well-known for his jewellery design and execution (exhibited in Washington and Florence) and, from 1974 onwards, primarily sculpture.
He has been awarded various prizes over the years for his work, and was invited as a major participant at both the Biennale in Sao Paulo, Brazil, and the Venice Biennale, Italy.
Most of Johan’s sculptures are made in stainless steel and bronze, however he has worked with wood and, more recently, started experimenting with other materials.
He is without a doubt, one of South Africa’s most celebrated artists, and his work can be found in private collections across the globe, from North and South America, all the way to New Zealand and Australia.
He continues to do commissions.
Johan’s philosophy on life:
‘ I'm more than ever amazed by the wonder of being. I try to render myself as open as possible to my surroundings – however and wherever I find myself. I'm not geographically bound, neither physically nor mentally. I lament the fact that my personal time schedule is not compatible to time … I search!’