The Art of Julian Venter

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Der Künstler

Der in Südafrika gebürtiger Künstler, Julian Venter, lebt in Athen, wo er mahlt und Yoga unterrichtet. Seine Arbeit zeigt oft das Unsichtbare, das Mystische. Er hat in Südamerika mit Schamanen gearbeitet und auf diesen Reisen sein Leben als Künstler vertieft.




The Art of Julian Venter

16.07.2014 in Berichte

Lisa Hänggli



Faan Herholdt, journalist - editor - translator

Cape Town, February 2011


The international artist Julian Venter’s electronic creations are fantastic realism with at least five dimensions. He creates magical dream worlds with powerful spiritual themes, which invite the viewer to create a vision of the future to counter cultural pessimism.


Postmodernism approaches traditional ideas in an unconventional and pluralistic way. The viewer participates in the art because an absolute truth is absent. Truth is subjective, depends on the viewer’s interests and is created by the interaction of signs.


Julian Venter Ecstacy .jpgAs a postmodernist, Venter is skeptical about the big projects and ideals of the Western culture. In stead of one single system he offers the best from different systems which he finds acceptable. Africa meets Europe meets the East in the typical symbols which he offers next to and equal to each other. His art is inclusive and draws on primitive, antique and ultramodern cultures.


The goddess of fertility and a variety of animals represent Africa in his art. Small pictures of animals illustrate the entire symbolical world of traditional tribes in Africa. The eagle appears repeatedly and represents freedom, inspiration and protection. The goat refers to agriculture and harvests, while the porcupine symbolizes the invincible warrior. The elephants and leopard are metaphorical of kingship, power and authority. The fishes conjure up peace and fertility. The lizard and hare indicate acumen, alertness and shrewdness, which are necessary for survival. The snake, crow and owl are harbingers of disaster and death, but also refer to the spiritual world. These and other animals like dolphins, seals, antelope and the hornbill are signs which encompass the entire life of people. Venter offers a universal collection of symbols out of Africa which describes an alternative spiritual system.


Photos of Athens, where Venter resides, form the background of many artworks. Greece is represented by statues of antique Greek gods and the ruins of antique temples. This indicates the glory and ideals of a European civilization which is forever a spent force. Venter illustrates this with statues of Apollo, Athena, Hermes, Zeus and Prometheus. Prometheus is presented as an alternative Messiah. With his foresight he is omniscient and the giver of hope. He was the friend of man who brought fire as symbol of the arts and knowledge to people. He was a heroic sufferer who saved humankind from divine judgment and punishment. The scaffolds against a crumbling Greek temple in two artworks indicate desperate efforts to prevent the decline of Europe and the Old World.


The artist appears as object on almost every artwork. Photos of Venter in various yoga positions and busy meditating are the focus or decoration of many striking artworks. The artist relativises himself and invites the viewer to see him as a part of his art. But it also implicates the Orient and Eastern wisdom and religion. Out of body and supernatural experiences are achieved by practicing yoga and meditation. This makes deeper spiritual insight possible. This is the third alternative spiritual system which Venter offers.


Julian Venter cockerel pose .jpgSurrealism and psychedelic visions are the fourth and fifth dimensions of Venter’s art. True to the norm of surrealist art he combines within the same picture elements which are not usually found together. This creates illogical and dazzling effects. The juxtaposition of divergent realities creates emotional power and a poetic reality. Images are removed from their usual context to fascinate the viewer. These supernatural and enchanting dream worlds can free the viewer’s mind from the pessimism and melancholy which were established by the international recession.


The psychedelic effects of Venter’s art are due to its modern and technological aspects. With a computer and software landscapes and the sky in photos are coloured, often with neon colours. This is further decorated with geometrical shapes to resemble dream images or hallucinations. The play with intense colours and textures gives his electronic art a surprising and ultramodern appearance. The electronic treatment of photos is another innovative aspect of his work. Such techniques were not traditionally available to the fine arts. This dimension of Venter’s art is called fantastic realism. Such electronic art is also known as psychedelic pictures, trippy art or blotter art.


Venter’s art is metaphorical of the transition of the millennium, but of past cultures and norms too. It summarizes the past while being surprisingly new and prophetic as well, precisely because it is so eclectic. His art happens every time it is perceived by different viewers. He does not want to prescribe any single message or truth in his work, but rather invites the viewer to participate in various symbolical worlds. His art is a collection of chronicles with which visions of the future may be created.




Venter’s Magnificent Art

Eleanor Needham, Weekly Greek News, Athens

March 17, 1995


Julian Venter aardwolf under a sickle moon .jpgAt first contact with the artist’s vision, what impacts are lively colours and archetypal images. Animals, symbols, human forms and deities seem to flow from the collective unconscious and the personal mythology of the artist; forms that reveal the artist’s dreams, while releasing stress and tension.


Julian uses his personal computer for the creation of these works. He enjoys the idea of working with light (pixels), rather than paint (pigment). He believes that using the computer is a step forward in the evolution of painting materials. The computer transforms the creation, perception and propagation of art.


Julian envisions a world where the computer frees our hands and our time, so that we have deeper and more meaningful relationships.




South African Artist Julian Venter Combines African, Greek Myth

Fransi Phillips Author -Feb 8, 2011


Julian Venter combines gods from African myths with those from Greek mythology.

African gods arrive in Arcadia.













Arcadia has over the ages been known as the dwelling of the Greek gods and goddesses, also known as the Olympus gods. While the Olympus gods and their ancient worshippers could easily accommodate the most human and irrational forms of behaviour, Greek philosophers after Aristotle became increasingly obsessed with rationality and logic, and would for that reason brand the less civilized worshippers of pagan gods in the countries surrounding Greece as “Barbarians.”


Gradually the whole western world would be Christianized under the Romans, who were strongly influenced by the intellectual orientation of Greek slaves who served as their teachers. In this way the alienation between Western civilization, based on Greek philosophy, and civilizations and religious orders from African and Oriental countries would grow.


In recent times the alienation between different countries and cultures of the world has to a large extend been transcended by the internet, turning the world into a global village. The different cultures and religions could now be brought into our homes by simply pushing a button.


In his home country, South African born artist Julian Venter used to depict African gods and their masked worshippers dancing around fires, and imitate the rock engravings that played a role in rituals concerning the hunt and fertility on the African continent.


Greek Gods


Upon his arrival in Greece,Julian Venter image art work ancients meet .jpg the old Olympus gods seem to have arisen from their slumber to welcome and accommodate their distant brothers and sisters brought by Venter from Africa, Egypt and the Orient as well as the more contemporary gods and worshipers of the internet that the artist has in the meantime been exposed to.


The artist now traded his medium of oil and pastels for computerized collages in unapologetically bright and flashy colours. His gods, which have been considerably extended, are now placed inside a new Mediterranean environment where even the ancient Chthonian goddess of fertility and death was revived after a slumber of millenniums.


Symbols in Venter’s Work


Symbols in his works include memories from western civilization like vintage cars, clay pots, buildings and ancient ruins, earth dwellers like insects and snakes and rocks and wild animals, gods from the Hindu, Greek, African and ancient Celtic religions, African masks, crystal stars, spirals, goats lost in landscapes haunted by flying saucers and self portraits of the artist as yoga man flying over earths and oceans and buzzing with the Internet energy connecting an entire universe.


The impression created by these works is that of a more vibrant and psychotic version of Salvador Dali, in which the every day objects encountered in strange combinations in our dreams are replaced by every god that has ever existed and every symbol and archetype that can be imagined, changing the Acropolis for ever.





Julian Venter image art work eagle flying into turbulance .jpgSouth-African art is unique because it represents a bridge between African and European Art. It enjoys this position because in South- Africa every artist, black or white grows up in contact with the traditional cultures as well as with the influences of the modern western world. As a South-African artist, Julian Venter’s work speaks to us from both these worlds: The magical African animistic world and the civilized European world.


Characteristic of Julian’s unique personal style is his ability to combine a classical aesthetic, an impressionistic technique; a striking almost lithographic approach; with a very individual use of colour; - all within the same work.


Since moving to Athens in 1993, Julian’s world has begun to incorporate Greek mythology; this evolution has suddenly opened his work to a far greater European audience.


Julian’s work is rooted in his own conceptual framework- briefly:Julian Venter image art work the joyous lake .jpg


Life on our planet divides up into 8 houses.

Each house is associated with a particular time

of the year and defining aspects.

Spring - Lightning - Humor and Eroticism.

Early summer - Wind and Wood - Dispersion.

Summer - Sun and Fire - Measure and Beauty.

Late Summer - Earth - Mother - Duty and servility.

Autumn - Lake - Group Aesthetics.

Early Winter - Sky - Intellect.

Winter - Valley - Hardship - Imagination - Wisdom.

Late Winter - Mountain - Completion - Perfection.


Each house is associated with a colour; a symbol; a set of totem animals; a position in the family; a landscape; and a state of the weather. This is the reference from which Julian observes and paints his world.


What is really remarkable is that Julian’ art can fascinate the conceptually literate viewer and at the same time remain aesthetically appealing and accessible to a broader public.


Steffen Gentis


V.I.T.R.I.O.L. Television Magazine

Tracks Film GmbH

Berlin, August 1995














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