Harem was born in the small gold-rush town of Barberton, South Africa. With a rural childhood and the freedom only known to a farm boy, his mind was allowed to wonder and create with complete abandon while nurturing his fine eye for detail and love of all things natural. His passion for exploration took him to remote parts of Africa, the Middle East, Europe and far-flung Indian Ocean Islands where he absorbed inspiration from diverse local cultures.
The origin of man and his place in the universe has always been a strong theme in his work while the young self-taught artist continuously pushed his own style to compliment his sometimes complex themes. A one year apprenticeship in Kenya to the Italian artist Armando Tanzini inspired his now very often monumental scale canvasses and murals.
Having been a full-time artist since he left school Harem has built up close relationships with many of his international patrons who include Richard Branson, the UAE Sultanate and many other private collectors in the USA and Europe. With a keen understanding of himself and his obsessions Harem has lived a life full of colour and adventure, at times in reclusive solitude and at other times in the large cities of the world where he has exhibited in France, Israel, Kenya, Germany, South Africa and Spain. Harem is based in Kaapsehoop village, South Africa.
Looking back at my childhood and how the rural Lowveld environment has affected my creations the one word that comes to mind is space.
Our old coffee farm at the foot of the southern escarpment was a tranquil base for exploration into the indigenous forests and high cliffs up to the Kaapsehoop plateau where wild horses, open space and distant views over the Barberton Valley would be my place to dream.
"My playground was vast and it included the rest of southern and East Africa as I got older, moving often, yet of little concern to my gypsy spirit. The diversity of Africa’s people and landscape constantly beckoned to journey beyond the next horizon in every conceivable mode of transport.
The subject of my creative path has been as diverse as the adventure on land, never believing in any limitation or settling for the familiar. Vast dreamy landscapes in oils were an invitation into another world, the visions that came while staring into the Lowveld from the escarpment edge or illustrated in a journal after waking up form a dream. Round abstract orb paintings formulated out of the same love of freedom and space, formless, expansive, breath, inner visions unbounded by a frame.
Several years of exploring the space between discovery and extinction has resulted in a natural history series inspired by Africa and India’s first explorers and the artists who accompanied them on their expeditions before the relative convenience of the first cameras. A blend of reality, fantasy and exaggeration of the creatures that have crossed their path.
Despite the journeys and discoveries, one’s roots run deep and returning to Kaapsehoop a year ago the escarpment still nourishes me on every level." Harem