Vibrant look at humanity

Johan Bloom at his exhibition 'Reflective Identities' at Galerie Noko Picture: Brian Witbooi
Johan Bloom at his exhibition ‘Reflective Identities’ at Galerie Noko Picture: Brian Witbooi

Swedish-born painter Johan Bloom’s solo exhibition Reflective Identities can be viewed at Galerie Noko in Russell Road.

The month-long exhibition is one of the artist’s first solo exhibitions at Galerie Noko and deals with the human condition and what it means “to us”.

Bloom said his works looked at “our place in the universe, time and space and [are] an exploration of our common ancestry, finding similarities in indigenous art, early human visual expressions and our digitised world as a bridge between past and present”.

Based in Grahamstown, Bloom grew up between the northern and southern hemispheres, an experience he said enabled him to notice the similarities between the Drakensberg rock paintings and the rock engravings in Sweden. “The paintings are so similar one could think they were done by the same person,” the painter said.

Born in Gothenburg and raised between Botswana and Mozambique, Bloom’s self-taught artistic wanderings have enabled him to bring a dynamic balance of north and south in his work.

His figures in his acrylic on canvas paintings, and steel sculptures resembing early rock art, are set in a contemporary and colourful environment accompanied by modern and ancient symbols such as barcodes, signs, pixilation and biometric fingerprints.

Elaborating on the title of his exhibition, Bloom said the figures in some of his works reflected parts of “our” dilemma, which “are in debate on which way to go and what area to remain in”.

Bloom said “the concept of the global north and the global south was a human construct both as a geological division as well as a cultural one.

“The earth is hanging in a vacuum in the universe and it does not make a difference in what is up or down under, what is top- class, lower-middle or bottom,” he said.

Bloom’s unique style, when creating one of his distinctly colourful paintings, is focused on the promotion of free thinking and instigating multiculturalism.

“I try to look at things upside down and create many layers to my paintings.

“Most of my paintings on exhibit are acrylic on canvas,” he said.

The exhibition opened on February 9 and will run until March 11.

To find out more on Bloom, his career and some of the exhibitions he has worked on, go to

For inquiries on Reflective Identities, contact Usen Obot on (041) 582-2090.

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