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Vic Guhrs

23.05.2018 - Article

Vic Guhrs is an artist and writer who takes his inspiration from the natural world, the mysteries of wilderness, and the uncharted no-man’s land of the soul where man and animals meet. Born in Germany, he came to Africa at the age of twenty-two in search of a life in remote places among wild animals. After completing his art studies in Johannesburg, he moved to Zambia’s Luangwa Valley, where he spent the next twenty years observing, sketching and painting, and learning the ways of the wild. The German Embassy proudly presents him as the “Artist of the Month” in March 2015.

Vic Guhrs’ career spans nearly four decades, much of it spent in the Zambian bush. He has exhibited widely and early on made his reputation as one of Africa’s premier painters of wildlife. He attributes this success to the collectors of animal art responding to the authenticity of his work, and his insight that went far beyond the accepted format of wildlife art. Numerous awards followed, and his many commissions included a Black Rhino painting for HRH Prince Philip, at the time head of the World Wildlife Fund.

He has since moved on from his life in the bush but twenty years in a remote safari camp, surrounded by wild animals, in close contact with the local communities, have left an indelible mark on his sensibilities as a painter and writer. ‘If you live among wild animals, you can’t help being made aware of an ancient connection between us. In our long history on this planet our paths converged in more ways than we care to admit. The biological kinship is obvious: they are made of the same cellular structures, with blood and bones and brains, and they breathe the same air and eat the same food. But there’s a spiritual connection, too; a common soul that binds us together on a profound and fundamental level; the animal spirit still lives in all of us.’

African art has long acknowledged this. When Picasso, Modigliani and some of the other modernists discovered the beauty of African sculpture and carving, they saw (and absorbed) more than an alien visual tradition: inherent in this strange work was the African belief that humankind cannot be separated from the natural world, that we are one with the world of animals, the realm of our ancestors and the natural forces which threaten us at the same time as they delight and edify.

Guhrs’ art – both painting and writing – reflects the insight he has gained into the mysteries of this hidden bond. Not content to portray the superficial appearance of wild animals, he tries to shed light on those elusive moments, both in nature and in our d

His experiences and reflections are chronicled in his first book, ‘The Trouble with Africa – Stories from a safari camp’. A second book, ‘WILD LIFE – People and Animals of the Luangwa Valley’ is a collaboration with photographer Francois d’Elbee and returns to the same locale and the same theme – examining the mysteries of wilderness and the ancient connection between animals and man.

‘When I paint an eagle, a lion, an old man’s portrait, a tree, or the nude figure of a woman, I am acutely aware of the inclusiveness of all life on our planet. I try and imbue each brushstroke with the knowledge that everything is connected, and that to pull at one corner of the web is to eventually unravel the whole fabric.’

Please find his contact details and a selection of his paintings in our online art Gallery.

reams, where the barriers that separate us are dissolved.