Juan Stockenstroom is a South African artist, born in 1982. Initially working with photography, he moved to work in painting, after finding it more suitable for the themes his work explores.
He has featured in group exhibitions both locally and abroad including Nuit de l’Annee at les Rencontres d’Arles (France, 2017) and Thread Count at Unseen Amsterdam (Netherlands, 2017). His first solo exhibition was at the PH Centre, Photography Gallery (South Africa, 2018).
His awards include Silver in the IPOY Award for Fine Art in 2017 and Honourable Mention in the 2013 Colour Awards for Fine Art & Portraiture.
My work is informed by my upbringing and experiences as a person of mixed race and heritage (termed “coloured) in apartheid and post-apartheid South Africa. I extract from my life experiences to create my work.
I work under the moniker of a fictional character called King Champion. King Champion is the finder and custodian of ancient stories. What stories, you ask? The lost and distorted historical narratives of the African continent, and, its diaspora. Stories our ancestors buried to keep them safe from a gaze that distorted them. Stories about who we are and who we come from. Stories about where we come from and how we came to be.
King Champion is a listener, a seer: an artist whose ear stretches through time to bring history into the present. Listening for the stories of men and women who are ready and wanting to speak now; who want us to hear and remember them. King Champion searches for the invisible stories that line our streets, and sing in the wind. He collects the songs and phrases, the images and memories. One by one, he re–members them with brush on canvas, with acrylic and ink, with words etched into images.
King Champion’s canvasses are mirrors through time: showing you histories you might not know, that live within and around you. And like a mirror, each image offers a different reflection to whomever chooses to stand before it. His stories are not easy to read. Where you might find comfort and affirmation, another might be confronted and questioned. However, King Champion is not concerned with your reading of each story. His work is simply its re-telling.
In this way, my work is multi-layered. My paintings are reconstructions, remixes and re-imaginings of these historical narratives. I juxtapose these visual images and portraits with mythology, handwriting in multiple languages, symbols, cryptology, gang culture and high culture. Thus, presenting ambiguous narratives, and creating a Visual Creole.