Garth Claassen’s work presents a study in contrasts. He combines elements from the world around him that represent the darkest and lightest sides of our modern society. Heavily focused on the figural, Claassen creates a visual metaphor for humanity’s confusion and loss of direction in the changing world. Using current world events as a reference, he executes his paintings with vibrant and saturated colors, lending an elegant sensuality to dark and sometimes controversial themes.
Garth Claassen studied art at the University of Natal, Pietermaritzburg, South Africa. His focus was on ceramic sculpture, examples of which are in the University’s collection, Pietermaritzburg’s Tatham Art Gallery, the Durban Art Gallery and the South African National Gallery, Cape Town. In 1982 Claassen was awarded a Fulbright Fellowship to study art history at Indiana University in Bloomington, graduating in 1991 with a doctorate in the history of modern art. During this period, he continued to make ceramic sculpture, and mixed-media abstract collages. In 1989 he returned to South Africa and taught at the University of Natal and the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, where he began to focus more on drawing. In1994 Claassen joined The College of Idaho. He teaches art history, life drawing, and painting. His work can be found in the permanent collections of the University of Durban, Westville in Durban, South Africa, the University of Natal, Law Library in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa, the South African National Gallery in Cape Town, South Africa, the Boise Art Museum in Boise, Idaho, and numerous private collections.