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Stephan Erasmus


Stephan Erasmus is a practicing artist based in Johannesburg, South Africa.

Erasmus's art production is evolving into an exploration of aspects of communication, specifically the strangely sublime communication that unfolds between a lover and his muse. Although the emotional strength captured in the writing of love letters are forgotten as time passes. This forgotten conviction and insignificance of the man's power and strength in comparison with love and its partner, loss, that directs Erasmus' traversing of this maze.

In his writing of these love letters, Erasmus 'samples' text from various sources such as poetry, plays, music lyrics and biblical text or uses these sources as a starting point. The use of existing text is significant in that it becomes emotional triggers that exist in the public domain and has links to specific emotional conditions or events. Thus giving Erasmus the opportunity to direct the work towards a receiver.

For Erasmus it is important that the selected text is transformed/translated into a visual format that breaks away from the act of reading or listening. Moving the reader into an experience of struggle and involvement in the detanglement of the text and the significance of the selected encryption method or construction.

The encryption/construction mimics a physical act of writing secret sorrowful love letters, sewing the letters together to become a web/net of words, in which the writer and reader can get entangled in. Leading both the writer and the reader into a self created prison of words and the power of their meanings.



Title Axis Mundi: Tree of Sorrow/Tree of Joy
Medium Ink on paper
Dimensions 50 cm x 33 cm x 33 cm
Edition Unique
Price R 7 500.00


The book entitled Axis Mundi: Tree of Sorrow/ Tree of Joy draws on the cross-cultural symbol of what is termed the Tree of Life in Christian Mysticism. The tree is one of the many manifestations of this symbol and depicts a point where heaven, earth and the underworld meet, with the branches reaching into heaven, the trunk moving through earth and the roots digging deep into the underworld.


The Axis Mundi in this work is constructed from re-written Afrikaans love poems, and explores the various authors’ emotions concerning the joys and sorrows of weaving through love.


This Tree – an illustration of the Axis Mundi – becomes a central point, a place of ‘onement’ where several opposite positions meet.




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