Gavin Risi is an accomplished artist with a lifelong dedication to his craft. Nestled in a serene permaculture food forest garden, his art studio overlooks a tranquil river, where he resides with his childhood sweetheart and her two children. Gavin's own daughter was tragically abducted from his care at a young age, and he has tirelessly fought for her rights for over a decade, though unable to provide the help she deserved.
Since childhood, Gavin has been immersed in the world of art, and it has remained his sole profession. He describes his creative process as a visual dialogue of listening, a meditative approach that seamlessly translates into his art. Amidst a world of constant change, he finds solace in the flow of his artistic endeavors, embracing the random and uncontrollable aspects of creation.
From an early age, Gavin recognized the importance of preserving the integrity of this creative dialogue, distancing himself from certain art teachings that did not align with the core of his passion and its accompanying energy. Guided by intuitive gut instincts, he strives for authenticity and pursues originality in his work. The result is a revolutionary form of art that challenges traditional perspectives and invites viewers to explore new ways of seeing.
Gavin's paintings are characterized by intricate layers of structures and forms, carefully organized to create functional spaces. His art engages the viewer, placing them in the role of creator, and opens up a perceptual frontier where illusions, visions, hallucinations, and insights can materialize. At the heart of this approach lies his belief in treating the art surface as a tangible substance rather than a picture or surface.
One of Gavin's earliest memories, which strongly influenced his artistic expression, revolves around the power of childhood experiences. He recalls lying on the grass with his mother, gazing up at the ever-changing clouds and discovering an array of animals and creatures within their nebulous forms. This phenomenon, known as pareidolia, illustrates how our perception struggles to interpret ambiguous stimuli.
A transformative encounter with an Edvard Munch painting in London deeply impacted Gavin's artistic journey. Rather than perceiving a mere depiction of a house, he felt a profound connection with the presence of the artist. This magical experience of transcending the material realm ignited Gavin's belief that art has the potential to communicate on a spiritual level, serving as a visual language that guides viewers along their own paths of transcendence.
Salvador Dali's works also left an indelible mark on Gavin's artistic philosophy, revealing the freedom of form to embody multiple realities.
Gavin's collage artwork, titled EMIT, is an extension of his oil painting concept. Instead of paint, he utilizes Time magazine images. While the completion of this artwork remains a work in progress due to the challenges of renting a large interior space, EMIT has been exhibited at various venues for many years. Notably, it was the sole artwork selected from Durban for a prestigious Spier art competition. Subsequently, it became part of a traveling exhibition titled "Twenty: Art in the Time of Democracy, Contemporary Art From South Africa," showcased at the Appalachian State University in North Carolina, USA, for six months. The American students embraced EMIT, choosing it as the basis for their workshop. The exhibition also found its way to The Pretoria Art Museum and the University of Johannesburg Art Gallery.
Prior to these achievements, EMIT had been exhibited at the Young Blood Arts and Culture Development Foundation in Cape Town and at Grande Provence Art Gallery in Franschhoek, Western Cape, for two years.
Gavin's first solo exhibition, "The Introspective Mirror," was sponsored by BMW and took place at the Auto Atlantic Art Gallery in Cape Town in 1990. Since then, his artworks have been primarily sold through art galleries. Notably, British Petroleum acquired one of his works from The Visual Arts Foundation Gallery in Johannesburg in 1992.
Gavin's artistic journey has been punctuated by numerous exhibitions and sales at esteemed venues such as Hyde Park Art Gallery, Sandton Art Gallery, Artspace Durban Art Gallery, Gallery 88 Paarl, Ebony Art Gallery, Art @ the Waterfront, and Grande Provence Art Gallery. Additionally, he has showcased his sculptures at a solo exhibition held at Creation Wines during the Hermanus Fynarts Festival, and his paintings, sculptures, and collages were exhibited at Grande Provence Art Gallery in Franschhoek.
In pursuit of artistic growth, Gavin recognizes the importance of studying art from its origins. Over a span of seven years, he embarked on an enriching journey, visiting galleries, exhibitions, and sculpture parks in London, Florence, Rome, Paris, Madrid, Barcelona, Montreal, New York, and Washington. He also explored art scenes in Belfast, Greece, Turkey, Amsterdam, and Peru, allowing diverse cultures and artistic expressions to inspire his own work.
Gavin's formal education in fine art includes studying at The Byam Shaw College of Art in London and completing a diploma course at the Durban Technikon, where he had the opportunity to learn from acclaimed artists such as Penny Siopis and Andries Botha. Pror to this he honed his skills at the Johannesburg Art, Ballet, Music, and Drama School, where he received distinctions in all art subjects during his three-year tenure.
In addition to his extensive artistic endeavors, Gavin has received recognition for his work in various art competitions. Notably, he was awarded a Certificate of Recognition for his artwork "Metaphorical African" at the Young Concrete Sculptor Awards Art Competition sponsored by PPC Cement. He also achieved finalist positions at the Vuleka Art Competition and the Hermanus Fine Arts Competition. Furthermore, he held solo exhibitions at the Nederburg Knysna Art Experience, the Old Arts Gallery at the University of Pretoria.
Gavin's passion for art and his unwavering dedication to his craft have shaped his artistic journey and made him the artist he is today. With a profound understanding of the transformative power of art and the ability to communicate on a spiritual level, he continues to create art that resonates with viewers, inspiring them to transcend their own boundaries.