Peter van Straten is a veteran of 20 solo exhibitions and over a hundred group shows, and is one of South Africa’s best loved painters of esoteric and philosophical themes. His paintings are immediately recognizable by their smoothness and translucency - achieved through “glazing” - the method favored by old masters like Vermeer.
"Nothing ruins a grandiose sense of self like a hyperactive sense of irony. I am prevented therefore from uttering with any seriousness an ambition that is non-the-less heartfelt: to celebrate, with a single iconic image, each uniquely intriguing facet of human existence. This task would of course take many lifetimes, and while I might conceivably have many lives it is doubtful whether I would remember my task from one life to the next; becoming instead the postmaster at Wellington, then a bureaucrat in Bangladesh, followed by a housewife in Durban – each without the slightest interest in illustrating the human condition. For this reason I am driven by a deep sense of urgency in this lifetime – straining against the undertow of time to expand my understanding of the light bulb moments I am determined to illustrate. Luckily for me I find the story of Sisyphus more amusing than tragic, and my favourite word in the English language is Nympholepsy, which, to paraphrase the Oxford dictionary, is ecstasy or madness caused by pursuit of the unattainable.
If anything it is reassuring to know that one's journeying will never be threatened by something as crass as destination, and it is pure bliss to paint that journey."
- Peter van Straten