Arena for Contemporary African, African-American and Caribbean Art

Vivien Kohler



Vivien Kohler





Born in Cape Town, Vivien has a National Diploma in Fine Art from Ruth Prowse College of art and design. 2007 he took part in the “Is There Still Life” group exhibition curated by Prof. Michael Godby of UCT (CT). 2008 he co-curated his first group exhibition at the AVA (CT) entitled “Provoke”. 2012 saw Vivien holding his first solo exhibition at the AVA (CT), co-curating the group exhibition titled “Ingekleur” and winning the ITWeb / Brainstorm calendar competition (Jhb). 2013 saw Kohler win The Lovell Gallery Competition (CT) and also become a finalist of the Ithuba Fund Exhibition (Jhb). 2014 Kohler Took part in the group exhibition “Of(f) Africa” at the Sulger-Buel Lovell Gallery (London) and hold his first solo exhibition at The Lovell Gallery (CT) titled “De(Re)tritus”.

My aim is to narrate the overcoming of unfair perception in an attempt to attain the authentic self. Whether it is a personal perception of ones circumstances, a generalisation thrust upon you by society or a wrestling with your inner self. The obstacle might seem insurmountable, yet in reality the issue is only skin deep.
Politics in its various forms, be it social, racial, financial, ancestral, physical, etc… These are all factors which hinder our personal progress. Yet conceptually they are only superficial. In Ben Okri’s words, “The most authentic thing about us is our capacity to create, to overcome, to endure, to transform, to love and to be greater than our suffering”.

As an introspective extension of this theme I am concerned with interrogations into race politics and ancestry of self as a Cape Coloured male. My heritage being that of one birthed from two different racial groups and its inevitable political discharge. The search for home is not always a physical one, my endeavour is to find the home within my own skin. I am delving into the heritage of the South African cultural race group known as the Coloured. More specifically, I am focusing upon the identity and roots of the Cape Coloured using my own family story as a basis.

Whether inwardly contemplative or outwardly so, the context remains. My works do not hide the realities of unfair perception, but symbolically display it in relation to the liberating verdict of the human spirit upon its surroundings. Using the very elements of detention as found objects I physically go through the almost intercessory process of working with and overcoming these remnants, transforming them into displays of strength and prowess, thereby causing the characters of my paintings (present or absent) to triumph over the metaphorical heap.