Vivien Kohler was born in Cape Town in 1976, and lives and works in Johannesburg, South Africa. He received his National Diploma in Fine Art from the Ruth Prowse School of Art and Design, Cape Town, 2000. In 2017 Kohler received the Thami Mnyele Sculpture Merit Award, in 2013 won the Lovell Gallery Artist Competition, and in 2012 won the ItWeb/Brainstorm Competition with an entry commissioned by Vodacom. His work is housed in public and private collections including the Nandos, Hollard, SAB and Fusion UK collections. Kohler has produced six solo shows to date: r3: FORM4re (Gallery MOMO, Johannesburg, 2019), At the Still Point of the Turning World (Sulger-Buel Lovell Gallery, London, 2018), Clay Opera (Sulger-Buel Lovell Gallery, London, 2017), Residuum (Ilse Schermers Art Gallery, Franschhoek, 2016), De(re)tritus (Lovell Gallery, Cape Town, 2014), and Given to Fly (Association of Visual Arts, Cape Town, 2012). Selected group exhibitions include Unresolved Category (Gallery MOMO, Cape Town, 2019), Eulogy: Tribute to Benon Lutaya (Lizamore & Assoc. , Johannesburg, 2019), Nano 2.0 (Barnard, Cape Town, 2018), Contemporary African Pop (a series of pop-up exhibitions, Johannesburg, 2018), Is There Still Life? (Old Town House, Cape Town, 2007), Sounds and the City (Hazard, Johannesburg, 2017), Prints on Paper (Klein Karoo Nationale Kunstefees, Outdshoorn, and Wits Art Museum, Johannesburg, 2017), Turbine Art Fair (Johannesburg, 2017), 35 Years: Trailblazers (Lizamore & Associates, Johannesburg, 2017), Between Light and Shadow: Rights of Passage (Sulger-Buel Lovell, Cape Town and London, 2016), Suddenly a Dissident (Guns and Rain/Point of Order, Johannesburg, 2016), I OBJEKT (Art It Is, Johannesburg, 2016), Reverie (AGOG, Johannesburg, 2016), Nugget Square (SOMA, Johannesburg, 2016), Turbine Art Fair (Johannesburg, 2015), Black History Month (Lambeth Academy, London, 2015), Hogan Lovell’s Africa Celebration (London, 2015), and Of(f) Africa (Sulger-Buel Lovell Gallery, London, 2015). Published texts on Kohler’s works include Found Objects: The Figurative Works of Vivien Kohler (Business Arts South Africa, 2019), Vivien Kohler and South Africa’s Strange Emotional Geography (Andrew Miller, Sunday Times, 4 Nov 2018), Out the Box: A Profile of Vivien Kohler (Nolan Stevens, https://artthrob.co.za/2018/01/29/out-the-box-a-profile-of-vivien-kohler/, 20 January 2018), Residuum | Solo Exhibition by Vivien Kohler (https://arttimes.co.za/vivien-kohler-art/, 2017), In Conversation with Vivien Kohler (Siobhan Keam, http://artafricamagazine.org/in-conversation- with-vivien-kohler/, 15 May 2014), and Sulger-Buel Lovell Gallery Launches with OF(F) AFRICA Exhibition in London (http://artafricamagazine.org/sulger-buel-lovell-gallery-london-launch/, 16 October 2014).
Circumstances, despite being formative, are not nor could they ever be the defining characteristic of the individuals and communities found within them. From a subjective point of view and to me, there is so much more to us than perceived. Immense complexities and layers exist within, as juxtaposed with society’s view of us. From badlands, esteemed, revered and adored individuals have bloomed.
Artists ‘have the ability to restructure the residue’. They can find meaning within the chaos and build on the inherent positivity, optimism and history that emanate and flow from the cracks among the residue. This work is an ‘exploratative redefining’ of the identity of these communities, a place called home.