South Africa



Kendell Geers was born in Johannesburg. He dates his birth to 1968, a year of great social upheavals. He left the country in 1989 because he refused to do his military service. He took part in the Venice Biennale in 1993 and numerous exhibitions around the world followed. 



In 2008, a touring retrospective showed his work in museums in Belgium, France, Italy and Britain. In 2013, a survey show was held at Haus der Kunst in Munich. Since 2000, he has been living in Brussels. 

About the artworks

Shocking and violent are the terms most often used to evoke the work of South African artist Kendell Geers. Born into a white family, committed to the struggle against apartheid from the age of 15, the artist was certainly marked by his country’s tortured history and struggles. Geers’s early work is contentious, embodying the opposition to the apartheid system. Since 2000, his art has been characterised by a more poetic form of inspiration, looking towards universal themes and global problematics, while at the same time questioning the limits of art and the human.

Politics, society, religion and sex are among the themes he addresses. His artistic vocabulary is characterised by loud colours that recall danger warnings and by the use of road cones, shattered glass, barbed wire and sirens. There is a palpable tension in his installations, paintings, videos, photographs and performances.

The artist is also interested in mysticism: religious symbols are presented in various forms. His art appropriates holy images but also pornographic and kitsch ones. Another aspect of his work concerns symbols and signs that all can recognise, while the words mirroring each other across the surface of the images initially tend to efface the meaning of the words in a striking visual effect.

In 2011, Geers wrote a manifesto stating his desire for revolution and calling for a more authentic way of life. His art opposes established morality, as well as both social and artistic codes. He urinated in Duchamp’s famous Fountain, which was originally a urinal before it became a work of art, and canned his own sperm. As for violence, in his works Geers asks how in today’s world it can be fully a part of our visual, verbal and physical world and remain at the forefront of our society.

The artworks

Collection of contemporary art