Learning about the history of art in high school, Johann Ryno de Wet was most drawn to the landscapes of artists such as Albert Bierstadt and Friedrich Edwin Church, but the darkness and turbulence of JMW Turner’s seascapes truly captured his imagination. After graduating and spending years photographing the ocean and its waves, de Wet realised how much his work was influenced by Turner’s work, particularly his painting The Shipwreck c. 1805. De Wet sees his work as a modern-day Romanticism that focuses on the drama and beauty of nature as an escape from this over-saturated, over populated, overwhelming information age. De Wet received his degree in Photography from the Tshwane University of Technology in 2005. He has exhibited at Pulse NY, New York; camara oscura galleria de arte, Madrid, Spain; Fotojatka Festival of Photography, Czech Republic; LEBEN elementar, Festival Fototagetrier, Trier, Germany, among many others. He was also a finalist in the Pulse Prize in 2013, and received honorable mentions in the International Photography Awards in 2010 and 2012. His work is held in institutional collections including Colección Olor Visual, Spain; Tucson Museum of Art, Arizona, USA; Colección de Arte Contemporáneo de la Comunidad de Madrid (Centro de Arte Dos de Mayo), Spain; Musée de l’Elysée, Lausanne, Switzerland; and private collections around the world.
What is it about the Young Masters project that you are most interested in?
I think what interests me most is that I am an artist today because as a child I was exposed to the work of the masters in the history of art and the young masters project is a way for me to pay homage to those masters who influenced me.
Can you explain to us what your work is about?
In a nut shell, it is about my internal conflicts and revelations. it’s about my existential journey. My departure point is in dreams and in this particular series I looked at dreams I’ve had about the ocean that play on my fear of being completely vulnerable and also the illusion we have of control.
Which artist/s are you most inspired by?
Frediric Edwin Church, Eugene Delacroix, William Turner, Joan Miro, Yves Tanguy, Salvador Dali, Max Ernst, Ansel Adams, Edward Weston, Hiroshi Sugimoto, Micheal Wolf, Chris Jordan, Levi van Veluw, Roger Ballen, Dan Holdsworth, Olafur Eliasson, Cai Guo-Qiang.
Can you tell us something about your background?
I grew up in Johannesburg South Africa. I have a degree in photography form the Tswane University of Technology.
What inspired you to become an artist?
My mother is an art teacher which played a huge role, as she exposed me to art from a young age. I’ve also had a deep connection with nature from a young age also thanks to my parents, which played a huge part as well.
If you weren’t an artist what would you be?
If I could be anything I would be a professional surfer or a professional mountaineer.
What is your greatest achievement as an artist to date?
Having a solo show at the Centro de arte Alcobendas in Madrid in July this year.
What are your plans for the future?
To create though provoking work and simply to continue working as an artist.