Chris Denovan

Chris Denovan

Cape Town | 10 artworks for sale

At art school I wasn’t very honest with myself - how can you make art if you're not interested in looking in the one place where it lives; YOU!

Having left art school I was disillusioned and felt lost in the art world. I turned my back on painting and tried to move forward to something else. So I studied and worked in animation. This semi worked for 5 years, and while I didn’t touch a brush to canvas, I did start to learn more about me.

Then one day someone very close to me died and life did a somersault which resulted in me picking up a brush once more. Painting again never felt so right. I resigned from my job as an animator, made an art studio for myself and started to create art again. This time with a more mature and honest approach. Gerhard Richter once said; 'Art is like religion; You only know it once you've lost it'. This rang true to me and I knew I was meant to be a painter and nothing else.

N.Dip Fine Art (Ruth Prowse School Of Fine Art)

Christopher Denovan was born in Cape Town, South Africa in 1983. He graduated from Ruth Prowse with a body of work focusing on Portraiture depicting Prejudice and Discrimination in gender and ethnicity. In 2006 Chris began studies at 'The Animation School' where he went on to win the 'Best Concept Characters' prize and graduated with two internationally recognised certificates in Maya and 3D studio Max.
In 2008 Chris signed on at the animation studio 'Clockwork Zoo' as head of the backgrounds department and animator developing international shows such as Florries Dragons, Caillou, and Mr Bebe.
In 2010 Chris left the Clockwork Zoo studios to focus on his fine art. He has exhibited his paintings in various group shows locally in South Africa while developing his own personal style. The artist was commissioned by the Danish Society of Engineers IDA på DTU to paint a portrait of their first female Chairman, Frida Frost in 2015.

Selected Exhibitions:


Group exhibition 'Autumn 2020', StateoftheART, Cape Town
Solo exhibition 'Body Plants', 99 Loop Gallery, Cape Town


Group exhibition 'Undercurrents' at StateoftheART, Cape Town
Group exhibition 'Voyage' at Art In The Yard, Franschhoek
Solo exhibition 'Lost In Known Territory', 99 Loop Gallery, Cape Town
Group exhibition: Sanlam Portrait Award 2017, University of Johannesburg Art Gallery

Group exhibition 'Untitled: Spring', StateoftheART, Cape Town
Group exhibition 'Dream Rift', Eclectica Contemporary, Cape Town
Sanlam Portrait Award Top 40, Rust-en-Vrede Gallery, Cape Town
Solo Exhibition 'Artficial Beasts', Art In The Yard, Franschhoek

Group exhibition 'Life.Body.Time', StateoftheART, Cape Town
Solo exhibition 'Breaking The Mould', Rust-en-Vrede Gallery,
Group exhibition 'Manuscript', StateoftheART, Cape Town

Solo exhibition Obsessed With Ourselves, StateoftheART, Cape Town


Irma Stern Museum, Cape Town
Salon 91, Cape Town
The White House, Plettenberg Bay
Pendock Wine Gallery, Cape Town
Chandler House, Cape Town
StateoftheART, Cape Town

Which new trends or South African artists do you find inspiring at the moment?
Trends: I'm Really enjoying watching the growth of South Africa’s urban black art and social realism. Contemporary art emerging from South Africa is exciting in its breadth and expression. Any creative works to come from a nation with such a unique and varied history deserves unrestrained attention.
Inspirational Artists: Erik Laubscher, Walter Battiss, Jane Alexander, Stanley Pinker and Robert Hodgins.
Younger artist: Lionel Smit, Claudette Schreuders, Matthew Hendley, Kudzanai Chiurai, Kemang Wa Lehulere, Rowan Smith, Ian Grose, Georgina Gratrix and Anathi Tyawa.

Which South African deceased artist do you most admire and why?

Jacobus Hendrik Pierneef. When it comes to art he has played a part in my life so many times. His work effects me at a primal level where colour, composition and brush work always inspire. Just the amount of work he made is astonishing but his methods where before his time.

Which exhibition that you have visited made the greatest impact on you and why?

The Royal Academy of Arts London Summer Exhibition 2012, which consists of a large collection of all types of art from hundreds of different artists, is the first exhibition that pops into mind. I suppose coming from Cape Town to London I didn’t know what to expect but the work exhibited there in general inspired me. There was such a variety of work there it would be difficult to explain how it inspired me but maybe it was the huge variety in its self that served to inspire. I loved it and will never forget it.

Where do you get your inspiration for your work?

Reading, Drawings/Scetches I make, talking to friends and being with other artist. Every day people and strangers inspired me too. Every one is different and I love to capture their story through paint. I enjoy dark humor, oddities and laughing.

Do you have any rituals or habits involving your art-making that you can tell us about?

Before each painting I tell myself something I read  from a  fellow artists studio wall: 'Confidence with every stroke'. It stuck with me and when I implement this idea while painting it really heightens the quality of my work.

What do you like most about being an artist?

When I finish a work and I know its good. Thats when I get an incredible sense of accomplishment and joy. It might sound corny but its truly a brilliant feeling. This can work in reverse which is fairly upsetting.

How do you handle bad days when you experience artist's block?

A friend quite simply told me: “If your not feeling a desire to do a certain project then don’t just sit there staring at it, do something else”. If your keeping busy your moving forward. That’s what I always do.

What is your greatest achievement as an artist to date?

Three years ago I lost Art. Its a long story but I can safely say now that my greatest achievement so far is finding it again. I realized this was an achievement when I read 'The Daily Practice of Painting' by Gerhard Richter. I cant find the quote but it went something like this: Religion and Art are alike; you only know faith if you have lost it like you only know art if you have lost it too.

Do you feel that you want to make a difference to the world or in people's lives? If yes, how?

I would like to say that that is not important, that making art for yourself is that prime objective but I do have a primal desire to enthrall the viewer and I do think art is a need to communicate, a need to put down images that tell a story.

What are your plans for the coming year?
Art is a journey, as they say, and I plan to take it step by step. My goals for the next 12 months are to be apart of any and all art related matters I can find. Id like to expand my level of participation in well received group shows with a mind to a solo show. Just as long as my work evolves at a possitive and productive level then I know I'm doing the right thing.