Many traditional cultures have their young men and women go walkabout – to look within, find meaning and face who they are. Now the extraordinary art of Driaan Claassen gives those inner thoughts a visual language.

“I address mental health by using my work as a visual metaphor to touch on physical and etherial subjects matters…to bridge the gap between what happens inside my own imagination and how I can portray that to the viewer,” he explains. Struggling at school, unable to qualify for university, Driaan found 3D animation, and with it, his passion.

“My unique style is defined by a simplification of visuals and shapes that I experience in my own mind, having dealt with menials health issues, my work was a means for me to create a roadmap for me to understand my own internal processes,” he says. We joined Driaan at his studio at his studio in Woodstock, Cape Town.

“Having a space like this really affords me the opportunity to explore my medium and my work narratively as well as physically, in a very calm and effective way to think about what impact I have on society and my community at large,” says Driaan. Working at the outer edge of his ability is where this artist is happiest. A place where logic ends, and intuition takes over.

“Bringing different materials together is an understanding of constraints of each one of those material manufacturing processes and limitations,” he explains. These physical representations of ideas stir the same wonder as telescope images captured of the birth of stars.

“When coming to my studio, you will find a large variety of different sculptures in different mediums,” he says, “each provoking a different emotion and quality of engagement and asking questions that one can reflect on on the self and through the nature of consciousness and the mind.”

Seeing his work as a positive reflection of dealing with struggles with mental health, the artist insists that if you have a reason to live, you can surmount almost any obstacle.

“My ultimate aspiration is to create work that is beautiful, the main reason for this is that it allows me to bring the viewers guard down before introducing them to the narrative structure underlying my work,” he says, “so that allows me to communicate something quite difficult in a more relaxed and vulnerable state.”

“Reflecting on how far I’ve come, I’m really excited to know that this is only the start and that there is so much more to come now that the foundation of the narrative and the work is established,” says Driaan. 

Having developed this visual language to navigate his own troubled waters, Driaan now wants his art to help others create their own uniquely positive energy.

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