Louis Chanu

Artist and Innovator

Louis has been sculpting since childhood, following and learning from the patterns in nature. Having lived in mainly rural South Africa, Swaziland and Elgin, has influenced his work immensely.

What sets Louis’ work apart is his innovative use of materials and his ability to transform these into creative works that evoke a powerful response from the viewer. His organic shapes and human figures are signatures of his style. He has exhibited both locally and internationally; from a career which has spanned 30 years. His work is in collections all over the world. Captains of industry including Johan Rupert, Richard Branson as well as the South African Department of Arts and Culture, have his work in their collections.

Louis’ sculptures are defined by innovation with materials. He started with clay and progressed to bronzes in the early 2000’s; his style defined by emotion and detail in his series: “People of Africa” and “Women of our Time”. Louis’ fascination with the transient nature of light led to a restlessness and feeling of limitation with bronze; and so he used nickel-plating for exciting and unusual light play for a new dimension on bronzes. Louis’ vision to create sculpture that could emit or reflect light continued; and so his next step was his Illuminated steel and stainless steel range; appearing as solid steel in the day; but transforming at night. With his insatiable quest for translating light into sculpture; his latest series, “Light Beings” was born; sculptures that merge into their surroundings.

“Having a physical body creates an illusion of separate-ness from other beings and our surroundings; but because we are also made of light and energy, we are connected to all around us. Our spirit, soul and vibrational energy is an intrinsic part of us, yet not tangible in the material sense. The transparent aspect of these sculptures echo this illusion. Although they appear to be solid, they change dynamically with varying transient light and surroundings. The surroundings become a part of them and yet are separate. This is the most dynamic material I have worked in for the past 30 years and its possibilities are limitless.”
Louis’ love of sculpting is what has kept him grounded. “Sculpting is my meditation,” says this passionate sculptor.

On a personal note, Louis has his studio in the picturesque Elgin Valley, overlooking the Hottentots mountains. He lives in Strand, Cape Town with his wife and three children. His other passion is flying- he flew paragliders for over 20 years, gaining Springbok colours for this sport. And he has since built three of his own aircraft, and is busy with a fourth. He has flown extensively around South Africa and Namibia. He says that flying gives him perspective and makes us realise how insignificant we are; and how powerful nature is.