Bastiaan van Stenis

Bastiaan van Stenis


Bastiaan van Stenis was born in South Africa in 1981, a descendant of the renowned 19th Century English painter John Thomas Baines.
 Of half Dutch, half South African descent, Bastiaan grew up in Cape Town. He is primarily a self taught artist, but at a young age he received private art tutoring and guidance, and began his art career at age of 19, working from his studio in the Bo-Kaap. In 2011, he moved to Germany where he painted full-time for two years. On his return to South Africa he settled in the Overstrand. Art has always been an essential tool in his dialogue with the world, and he has exhibited both locally and in Europe.


Bastiaan’s work is Identifiable through his unique use of colour and texture, the artist provides audiences with a reflexive view of the world. His is an oeuvre that compels us to look and look again as he contradicts distinct, yet inextricably linked subjects through a montage of techniques and sound draughtsmanship. His art is a triumph of mixed media, making use of hair, paint, glue, cloth, montage and taxidermy. He assembles these materials to model subjects from corpulent fragments. His mottled variations of tone sculpt the flesh of his subjects, creating precarious multi-faceted compositions that bulge off the picture plane. Van Stenis’ subject matter is drawn from his surrounds, encompassing his domestic space, the natural world and his human and animal companions. These are combined with imaginary elements to form a curious Carollian world. In Van Stenis’ expressionistic works he uses mottled pastel colours against backgrounds of flat, muted tones. They depict surreal scenes on the verge of abstraction. Frequently the armature of a drawing is visible between scrubby tiles of colour. The sitters seem to be dissembling, their features almost unrecognisable. The works indicate the constitution of identity from an assemblage of impermanent elements. His subjects are gentle frankensteins, composed from clumps of fur, glutinous paint and beady glass eyes. Van Stenis’ confers a softness onto these scenes of disintegration and reformation by rendering them in peachy oranges, mint greens and Naples yellows. Recurring in his large-scale compositions are motifs of the beseeching domestic hound, the interplay of nakedness and nudity and the surreality of identity.


What drives me is the process, the creating, and the creation itself is just another stop on the way.

The New Church Collection, Cape Town, South Africa.
Hamilton Russell Collection, Hermanus , South Africa