Karl Gietl was born in Wocester, in the cape of South Africa in 1970. He grew up in the small mining town of Benoni on the East Rand and was schooled in the vibrant and turbulent city of Johannesburg during the ‘chaos’ of the mid eighties. Karl Gietl had his first solo exhibition of paintings in 1994.
In 1995 he was part of a group exhibition of south African artists (curated by artist Wayne Barker) in the museum of modern art in Santiago Chile. In 1998 Karl Gietl won first prize in the national ABSA atelier art awards which gave him the opportunity to live and work in the Cité internationale des arts in Paris for six months during 1999. Gietl however remained in Europe for three years. He lived, traveled and exhibited in Holland, Germany, Belgium and France. After a short stay in Spain, Gietl returned to South Africa in 2001.
Back home Gietl again embarked on a travel spree through South Africa and her neighboring countries, which gave rise to his large city scape series of 2004. From portraits of ‘cracked up’ prostitutes in the dingiest brothels in Hillbrow, to the prehistoric forest’s of ‘The Rain Queen’ in Mpumalanga. Gietl slept on the beaches of Mozambique and was very nearly arrested in Swaziland for ‘allegedly’ inciting insurrection due to the subject matter of his works. In 2005 Gietl embarked on a series of touring exhibition that included every major city in southern Africa.
The late great Braam Kruger wrote (Business day March 2005) “His ability to jump effortlessly between Troyeville, Paris, Maputo and Cape town, dredging backstreets and beachfronts for inspiration devoid of elitism, sparked a series of imminent residencies and exhibitions in various southern African cities, under the auspices of the Alliance Francaise.” Regarding Gietl’s nudes Braam Kruger also wrote ” … Painted from life…
They combine perceptive observation with moving and compassionate empathy and startling presence. Personally, I think they are the most powerful nudes done in SA (south Africa) during the past 30 years, even if they are not for the fainthearted.”
Dr Fred Scott (Art consultant for Stephan Weltz) described Gietl’s work as: “… appalling hallucinations of disjointed souls in dim nocturnal environments and decaying surroundings… (But) Parallel to painting disturbing images Karl is proficient in exchanging fierce subjects with portrayals of day to day life…”
Henri Vergon (Director of Afronova Modern and Contemporary art JHB) wrote: “Like a painted documentary and chronicle, his canvases have a life of their own. The artist is a visual story teller even more than a social commentator… Gietl’s art comes from the people, is about the people and is intended for the people. Often humerous, Gietl’s corrosive compositions speak about history, politics, morals, everyday life and most importantly, about himself.”