His artistic talent was never a secret, even at the age of four. He grew up on a farm in the Hofmeyr district, Eastern Cape. He was born with a creative talent. Also in music, but he had to make a difficult choice. Visual arts as a career were the path he would follow. At the age of 14 he got private sculptural lessons in the small town Adelaide in the Eastern Cape. From there his life as an artist took shape. Sculpture was always his passion. Growing up in the Karoo (Eastern Cape S.A.) with its rocky hills and mountains, influenced him in his sculptural forms. The title of his thesis was “The relation between art and nature”.

1974 – He studied at Potchefstroom University, then commenced his studies further at the Nelson Metropolitan University of Art & Design, 1979 – gaining a higher National Diploma with distinction in Fine arts (sculpture and drawing).
Johannes has held over 40 successful exhibitions since 1982. He staged many solo, two man and attended group exhibitions, locally and internationally. He participated in international exhibitions: France, Switzerland, Netherlands, Germany and
UK – London between 1994 and 2007.

Apart from private commissions in painting and sculpture, collectors invested in his unique versatile style of work around the globe, Canada, United Kingdom, Netherlands, Switzerland, USA, Germany, France, Scotland, Ireland, Australia and South Africa.

Johannes uses a distinct abstract expressionistic cubist style in acrylics on canvas to express his love of form inspired by nature. Johannes uses cubism as a vehicle to arrive at a statement. As Jackson Pollock said “…. it does not make much difference how the paint is applied, as long as something has been said. Technique is just a means of arriving at a statement.” An artist must possess Nature. He must identify himself with her rhythm, by efforts that will prepare the mastery, which will later enable him to express himself in his own language. The observation of nature is part of an artist’s life. It enlarges his form knowledge, keeps him fresh and from working only by formula, and feeds inspiration. Johannes reveals in his artworks, not only the artistic value of the visible but also of what remains beyond that.




To paint is a passion. By being honest towards my mind experiences and heart is how I attempt to find a new level in artistic realization.
Painting is a process of getting to know myself better, a way of finding new inspiration and understanding of life in various forms.
In the end, it is an introduction to self-enlightenment.
I prefer to call my paintings emotional statements.

My wish is that the audience could feel these statements deep within themselves.

Selected Works



Published by SLOW Magazine, 2016

Aggressive strokes of vivid orange slash across the canvas, standing in stark contrast to the cold figure peering out at the viewer. His expression is calm, his gaze confident – revealing a sense of consciousness and intellect that begs an excursion into the seemingly tranquil façade. Standing still amid the chaotic energy of brushstrokes, it almost seems as though the figure is struggling to come to terms with his dual nature. Every man has a dark side, the title reads, and I reflect on the implication of artist Johannes du Plessis’ words while gazing fixedly at the face in the centre. It is deep and eerie, but then so is most Neo-Expressionism – the highly personal, emotionally charged style with which Du Plessis identifies. “It’s the free, vigorous application – the ability to create emotional intensity using colours – that attracted me,” he explains.
Du Plessis has been involved in art for as long as he can remember, finally establishing himself as a well-known figure in the field. He has exhibited both locally and internationally (with great success) for over 30 years, and his work can be found in private collections all over the globe.

“Growing up on a farm in the Eastern Cape gave me the opportunity to explore nature in all its varied aspects. The Karoo, with its open spaces, vastness and rocky hills, had a fundamental and conscious impact on my intuition,”
he explains of his background and influences. The prolific artist’s formal foundation was established during his studies in fine art, with his Higher National Diploma in sculpting and drawing signalling the start of his success. “When you start your art education, you become aware of so many different styles. I searched for one with which I could identify, and went through various stages, from Impressionism to the freedom and vitality of Expressionist art, finally identifying myself as a Neo-Expressionist.” Du Plessis is, however, not entirely comfortable with these categories, arguing that an artist’s style is merely a tool for expressing his vision.
“I refuse to accept a specific category – a label for who I am and what I do. Every collection I create may differ from the previous. My art is a playground of fulfilment.” This search for fulfilment has led Du Plessis to an exploration of many different mediums.

While he has certainly mastered painting and sculpting, he has also dabbled in a number of others, and can see himself pursuing etching in the future. The hardest part about creating a masterpiece, in any medium? “The beginning – not knowing where to start until it unfolds. A blank canvas is very intimidating. So I start by painting it black, to create the first note in the orchestra of my work.” Du Plessis remembers the very first creation to come from his hands – drawings of ostriches and ortoises – adding that he is often inspired by nature due to its profound influence on his artistic development. He stresses, however, that he does not pursue particular themes, but is open rather to all possibilities.
“My imagination takes me on a journey – it’s like a prelude or overture to an opera full of mysteries and intrigues. The final ending is a symphony with a dramatic signature.”
I ask him about his work and the meaning behind some of the pieces that most captivate me, and he responds in true
Expressionist style. “Within my work, you’ll find all sorts of elements, faces and figures – I cannot tell you what to see. My work stimulates and evokes emotion, so that viewers can discover whatever they are looking for, whatever they want to see. My creations have infinite possibilities.”
His favourite work is Procreation, which he completed in 2011. Vigorous brushstrokes give life to a mass of colourful, distorted figures represented in a manner that stirs up Cubist connotations. Thick streaks of vivid yellow contribute to the vibrancy of the work, and bright hues of cyan suggest health and vitality. “This work is the one that most satisfies my senses, perhaps because of its cartoon-like immediacy. It pulses with vitality – the jostling, tumbling forms containing furiously compressed energies,” he explains. For Du Plessis, the most rewarding thing about being an artist is the appreciation of his work.

“Being an artist is not an easy career path to follow – the arts in our country is still in the grip of development.
My motivation comes from within. It is my passion for creativity that drives my soul

Exhibitions at ODA


solo exhibition, 30 Sept to 24 Oct 2018

Vision Statement

“Our ethos is consistent: promote this generation of artists from the African continent, nurture talent & surprise collectors by innovative exhibitions, unprecedented professionality and quality.”

subscribe to our newsletter
* indicates required
ODA Gallery
42 Huguenot Street
Western Cape, South Africa

+27 837743603