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David Theron is a South African-born artist now living in Toronto.

As an immigrant with a background in animation, it follows that his work centres on motion and notions of identity. What ties these together is the concept of ‘sonder’: a recently-coined term which refers to the realization that each random passer-by is living a life as vivid and complex as your own.

Theron’s current focus has shifted from animation-inspired movement – captured as painted snapshot frames superimposed on a single canvas – to movement expressed as fluid motion and synchronous action.

Reminiscent of Abstract Expressionists, Theron’s gestural brushstrokes and swift sweeps of charcoal trace energetic lines across his surfaces in an attempt to capture and convey constant changing states of existence. His lines are a response to impulse rather than emulated observations of the world. The physical act of painting serves as a metaphorical mining of the subconscious; an art grounded in personal and empathetic experience.

Another interpretation of ‘sonder’ (in the South African language Afrikaans) is ‘without’, ‘deprived of’. While abstraction has always been present in his work, and while Theron does continue to draw on figuration based both on real life and on the canons of art history, the shift towards purer abstraction, the loss of the clear subject, is a re-evaluation prompted by his trans-continental move, and the subsequent dissolution of his previously-accepted ideas of self.

The Other has always been a focus in Theron’s work, but his time living in a new country has deepened his practice. The inherent difficulties of clearly expressing one’s self in life and in art, unsettling glimpses of strangers, surrounded by unknown environments – these all give rise to works whose energy emphasizes the significance of uncertainty. Theron’s dense marks, layered over crisp but simultaneously dissolving features, reflect the enigma presented by other people: the inability to know anyone truly, including one’s self.



DF Contemporary - Cape Town Art Fair - 2017

The Kalashikovv Gallery - Basha Uhuru Freedom Festival- Mar 2016

DF Contemporary – Cape Town – That Art Fair – Feb 2016

No Ends Contemporary Art Space - Johannesburg- Fifteen hundred - Jan 2016

99Loop - Cape Town – Untitled 1.99 - Dec 2016

99Loop - Cape Town - The End is the Beginning is the End - Jan 2016

The Kalashnikovv Gallery - Johannesburg - Cross Sections - Nov 2015

Turbine Art Fair – Johannesburg – Aug 2015

Haas - Cape Town – 2015 ongoing

DF Contemporary - Johannesburg - Winter Show 2015

DF Contemporary - Cape Town - Winter Show 2015