Lester van der Merwe has been obsessed with creating as long as he can remember. As a young boy he spent a lot of time admiring his uncle’s work and observing him in his studio. Later in life, van der Merwe started to show a keen interest in design as well, feeling that combining the two worlds would be a way for him to best express his experiences.

Van der Merwe’s work explores the concept of deep disassociation: the way he copes with his disassociation is by creating characters to represent himself. Unable to verbalize these stories, he leans onto his created characters to do so for him. Van der Merwe’s work often tells the tale of bliss, despair and even a drop of his struggle with religious constraints. Van der Merwe was raised very religious, and his non-belief is where he believes his initial conflict was born.

His work is reminiscent of the Cubist and Neo-Expressionist movements. Both styles are free from anatomical constraints and allow him to create a more animated form of art. The more Cubist approach also lends itself well to design, as he is able to use the more geometric shapes better in modern designs.

Van der Merwe prefers to work on wood, as his grandfather was a carpenter, and it evokes a sense of comfort to his artistic practice. He makes use of various materials such as make-up, acrylics and charcoal for their potential to suggest a variety of narratives.