Willem Strydom trained in Italy as a sculptor before becoming a lecturer at the Universities of Natal and Witwatersrand. Strydom rose to prominence on the South African art scene in the mid 70’s.Throughout the rest of the 70’s and well into the next decade, he exhibited widely and won numerous awards for both his sculptures and watercolours. Then, after his last solo exhibition in 1991, he suddenly became a strangely elusive figure on the South African art scene. His move to the tiny village of Nieuwoudtville in the Karoo partly explains this withdrawal.
One can see though, how the volatile beauty of Niewoudtville area captured the imagination of this meticulous creator. Situated on a plateau with the sheer cliff topped escarpment to the west, and the seemingly endless landscapes of the Tanqua and Hantam Karoo to the east, Niewoudtville enjoys a unique type of beauty.
Drawing inspiration from the diversity of flora as well as the wealth of local rock art found around Niewoudtville, Stydom uses European techniques and materials to convey his experiences of life in beautiful and at times austere African landscapes.
Strydom’s ability to capture beauty is not restricted to the beauty of nature but rather his elegant sculptures, although often largely metaphorical, also explore Khoisan mythology and the relationship between people and their environment. His figures carry themselves with an ageless and poetic grace, as if they have been pulled out of another world and immortalised in motionless bronze and marble forever on this one.