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Jacques Viljoen

Jacques Viljoen was born in Cape Town, South Africa in 1988 and graduated from The Michaelis School of Fine Art at the University of Cape Town in 2011, where he majored in painting. In 2012 Viljoen moved to the UK and in 2018 to Florence, Italy to study painting and drawing at The Florence Academy of Art. He completed two years of full-time study before returning to South Africa during the Global Pandemic.
As a trained contemporary realist painter, Jacques Viljoen is working exclusively from life in oil, without the use of photography. He is best known for his atmospheric plein-air landscape paintings in and around the Western Cape but also creates still life and figurative work.

In 2022 Viljoen became the first person since the 90s to be awarded the title of Artist in Residence at the IZIKO National Gallery in Cape Town, where he worked for a year. He has held several solo shows in Cape Town and exhibited at the Royal Society of Portrait Painters in London.
His artistic education includes The Florence Academy of Art (Intermediate Painting, Intensive Drawing, and Portraiture Workshop), London Fine Arts (Foundation Course), and the Michaelis School of Fine Art, University of Cape Town.

In 2017 Jacques Viljoen took part in a paid residency for 6 months at the United Grand Lodge of England, to mark their 300th anniversary. The residency was overseen by the Museum of Freemasonry and not the organization itself and was the first time an outsider was allowed into this secretive building. Viljoen produced numerous works on site during his residency and curated a group show where he invited the UK’s top young representational artists to take part.

Viljoen approached the National Gallery of Cape Town and requested to copy paintings – as is standard practice for realist artists at equivalent national galleries across the world. 2022 happened to be the 150th anniversary of the opening of the IZIKO National Gallery, and the curator was planning a large show, displaying the best work in the collection. The curator asked Viljoen to formalise the copying project into a residency – the first residency since the 90s – so that he could copy the works in public while interacting with the visitors. His residency was intended to act as a bridge between the practice of contemporary and historical painting. Copies include work by J.J. Shannon, John Singer Sargent, and J.H. Pierneef.

Various accolades have been awarded to Jacques Viljoen including Best Cast Drawing, Florence Academy of Art (2019) and SAA Artist of the Year, best figure or portrait (UK) (2017).

The artist has exhibited in various group and solo exhibitions in South Africa and London and is showing some of his work in Cape Town at The Artists Gallery.

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