Schalk van Merwe’s visceral portraits have a definite directness about them – yet which are underpinned by a tangible fragility. Ambiguous features morph from immense beauty into utter despair, with hints of the eyes breaking the surface beneath layers of paint, charcoal, turpentine, expressive brush strokes and often, the physical DNA form the artist’s fingertips. Schalk’s work explores the concept of taking the mind out of the creative process to enable deeper honesty. His art captures a vast range of emotions, often provoking a strong reaction from the viewer. “My work is not reliant on the cognitive process. I believe over-thinking can destroy originality. My portraits aren’t about realism, perfection, gender or race. They explore and attempt to capture those qualities and emotions often hidden from view.” Schalk’s work is arresting and intriguing. Each portrait has a delicate, melancholic expression conveyed through a physical, visceral application of paint. Each face invites a fleeting, deeply personal recognition of the subject even though the features are blurred to the point of anonymity.