Vivien Kohler

Born 1976 in Johannesburg, South Africa

Lives and works in Johannesburg, South Africa


Vivien Kohler is an experimental mixed media painter based in Johannesburg, South Africa. The concept of liminality; the liminal city and its people, lies at the core of Kohler's work, which explores migration, marginalization and displacement in the urban landscape of post-Apartheid South Africa.


Kohler constructs two and three dimensional assemblage pieces; appropriating discarded material, painting naturalistic figures and detailed replications of packaging material (a layered visual metaphor signifying transience, migration, displacement), to articulate challenging social and economic circumstances that affect those on the periphery. "My works do not hide the realities of the unfair perception, but symbolically display it in relations to the liberating verdict of the human spirit". Fascinated by man's ability to transcend 'the conceptual decay', he captures with gentle rawness the complexity of the human disposition. His work seeks to illuminate the duality of lived experiences by depicting, with an air of surreality, meditative moments of the individual, mentally cocooned from, yet physically enveloped by life's detritus.


Kohler received his National Diploma in Fine Art from the Ruth Prowse School of Art and Design in Cape Town, 2000. He has exhibited in art fairs and group shows across South Africa and internationally, including Is There Still Life curated by Prof. Michael Godby; OFF Africa (2014) andTrop Comprendre at Sulger-Buel Lovell (2017) curated by Andrew Lamprecht. He has produced two solo shows to date shown in South Africa; Given to Fly (2012) and De(re)tritus (2014). Kohler has also exhibited two solo exhibitions at Sulger-Buel Lovell namely Clay Opera (2017) and At the Still Point of the Turning World (2018) curated by Andrew Lamprecht. He has received numerous awards: the ItWeb / brainstorm competition (2012) with his entry commissioned by Vodacom; in 2013 he was the winner of the Lovell Gallery artist competition; and he was the winner of the Thami Mnyele Best Sculpture award in 2017. His work is housed in both private and public collections, the latter including the Nando's Collection, the Hollard Collection, SAB and Fusion UK. He has an impressive number of artworks sold (close to 80% of all he has produced).