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Swart, Ryno

Paint exactly what you see. Then learn to see.

The artist has to learn to see the mystery, the beauty, the majesty of the unmediated visual experience. Because we do not see faces, bodies, or garments, but colours, shapes, textures, clarities and mystery. These are the subject of Ryno's work.

We can only ever paint one thing. It is that thing which occupies our thoughts, the things we dwell on. We only paint what we love. There is no point in asking ourselves why we love mountains, or birds, or clouds. In Ryno's work it is the beauty of the female mystique.

Ryno Swart was born in Springbok, Namaqualand in 1945. An interest in drawing provided continuity throughout his childhood.

Ryno was awarded a bursary to study art at the University of Stellenbosch, by Barclays Bank. He obtained his BA Fine Arts degree. Following this, he spent three years lecturing at various art colleges. He then joined an advertising agency, remaining there for four years before deciding to do freelance illustrating.

After two years as an illustrator, Swart decided to go to Paris where he worked part-time as a bricklayer to finance drawing lessons at the Beaux-Arts to learn painting from the old masters he loved so much. Exposed for the first time to the beauty of European cities, his subjects were everywhere, children, buildings, river barges, all beauty.

When he returned to Johannesburg, he felt the need actively to seek out beauty. Here he found it in the ballet, where he trained his eye and his hand in unison with the dancers training their bodies. Every day for four years he spent the entire day from 10am to 6pm, drawing, drawing the dancers, even choreographing an experimental ballet in the form of drawings. This discipline only ended when the ballet company moved from Johannesburg to Pretoria. Then, with some of the more adventurous young dancers, he ventured into the world of cabaret.

In 1986 this love took him full circle, back to Paris and now to the Alcazar nightclub where long before his hero Toulouse Lautrec did some of his beautiful work.

Today Ryno Swart lives with his wife Anne and their 8 year old son, Jean Reynault, far from the action of clubs and of the theatre, but, as always, beauty is there to be found and to be celebrated.

In his work there is always the one simple message: "This I see. This I love."