Paul du Toit

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Paul du Toit
Paul du Toit, 2005, Cape Town studio
Born Paul Johan du Toit
(1965-10-31)31 October 1965
Johannesburg, South Africa
Died 9 January 2014(2014-01-09) (aged 48)
Nationality South African
Known for Painting, Sculpture, Ceramics, Mural
Awards Medal from Florence Biennale, nominated for Daimler Chrysler Sculpture award 2002

Paul Johan du Toit (31 October 1965 – 9 January 2014) was a South African artist, working in painting, sculpture, paper and mixed media. His exhibits have been displayed globally. Most notably, three of his sculptures were selected for the 2001 Florence Biennale.

Among the many awards he has received is a medal from the city of Florence in the Biennale Internationale Dell'arte Contemporanea. He was nominated for the Daimler Chrysler Sculpture Award of 2002. Paul was recently invited to work with former president Nelson Mandela and international musicians on the 46664 campaign.


Paul Du Toit was born on 31 October 1965 in Johannesburg. Paul grew up in Mayfair Johannesburg and his time was spent between his artist aunt, Elizabeth van der Sandt and his father’s workshop, where he used to create sculptures out of electrical gadgets while his aunt tutored him in oil painting techniques. His mother spent hours with him at the library fuelling his hunger for knowledge.

Paul du Toit as a small child, mother Jeannette de Kock and father Andries Johannes du Toit, 1969

In 1976 Paul du Toit contracted juvenile rheumatoid arthritis at the age of 11 and spent the next three years in and out of hospital. This experience was to play a pivotal role in his artistic conceptualisation and his ability to persevere. His illness persisted for some time but during his hospital confinement he was given books about Miró and Picasso which played a key role in his style and artistic development.

In 1984 Paul du Toit matriculated and in 1985 he was conscripted to the South African Air Force where he used the time to do some carpentry, make his first bronze work of an airplane and study computer science part-time through Pretoria Technikon. When he left the army he worked as a computer programmer In 1988 Paul du Toit married his childhood sweetheart, Lorette Olivier. Their first years of marriage were tough. The company Paul du Toit worked for went into liquidation and he worked in a boring job at the bank to make ends meet. All this time he painted at night to keep his artistic flair alive.

In 1992, during Paul du Toit and Lorette’s first overseas trip, their visit to Florence in Italy was to be a turning point in Paul’s artistic career. So inspired was he by Michelangelo’s David, that he returned fired with commitment to make his art work. This influence was further fuelled by their trip to Paris two years later, where the exposure to a group of sculptures made from polyurethane foam metal drums and plastic at the back of the Louvre, really resonated with him. He returned to South Africa and started making sculptures in his garage, from discarded materials. One of these won him the ‘Best Artist with No Formal Training’ at the Association of Arts in Bellville Cape.

Paul and Lorette decided to move the Cape Town where their first child Danielle is born in 1995 and in 1996 the family moved to Hout Bay with Lorette supporting them while Paul windsurfed and created his art. In his Hout Bay studio Paul started using an impasto technique (thick industrial paste into which he scratched lines and images) which was to become intrinsic to his style of automatic scribbling. At this stage he also used his computer know-how to optimise his use of the internet and connect to the international art scene.

In 2014, du Toit died of cancer. He was 48.[1]

Art career[edit]

Paul du Toit in his Hout Bay studio, Cape Town 2009

1997 was a significant year, because Paul sold his first paintings locally. He also launched his website and his work was spotted by a gallery owner in Paris who invited him to exhibit in 1998. This decided Paul to make art his career as he became part of a group exhibition at the Groot Constantia Art Gallery. Joshua, Paul and Lorette’s second child was born in 1997. 1998 was the year Paul hit the international circuit with his paintings being exhibited in a number of international and local exhibitions and generating a lot of interest in the local media. He appeared on the CNN International Art Club and held his first solo exhibition in Paris. Paul used his trip to Paris to study bronzes and when he returned he ignited his love for sculpture by creating his first bronze (Ralph and Little Ralph). His exhibition in October 1998 included paintings as well as one of the Ralph bronzes. 1999 marked a continuation of the local and international interest with shows in Moscow, Edinburgh and with local corporates buying some of Paul’s work. 2000 was a coup for Paul as he was selected by Professor Richard Demarco to be one of the 70 over 2000 – a noteworthy achievement. This resulted in a solo and group exhibition in Cape Town as well as exhibitions in the Netherlands and France. 2000 heralded the beginning of Paul’s wooden sculptures. In 2001 he was nominated to exhibit works at the Florence Biennale of Contemporary Art where he won 5th place in the sculpture section. He was also nominated for the Daimler Chrysler Award for South African Sculpture. He held two solo exhibitions one at the Holland Art Fair in The Hague and the other in Cape Town. Fame spread like wild fire and in 2002 Paul exhibited on the American continent for the first time, at the Toronto International Art Fair. In addition, two of his paintings sold for well over the reserve at Sotheby’s and Christiaan Barnard hosted a solo exhibition of Paul’s latest sculptures and paintings in Johannesburg. It was also the year that Paul created his first bronze sculptures from wire armatures introducing a new technique to his painting and sculpture. This was inspired by a trip with Lorette to Zanzibar. In 2003 Lorette joined the PlanetPaul team full-time and they created a new studio in Hout Bay. Paul experimented with different media. With his career as an artist firmly entrenched, Paul was able to pay attention to some community involvement and he devoted time to charity painting with groups of children at the Red Cross Children’s Hospital in Cape Town. This seemed a fitting cause, given his long bleak confinement to hospital during his own childhood. He also donated work for the annual art auction ball. In 2004 Paul held his first solo exhibition in New York where he was reviewed by both the NY Arts Magazine and the Arts and Antiques Magazine. He also held a solo exhibition in the Netherlands and he created his stick figure with the signature upturned "L-foot", which would become synonymous with Paul’s work in years to come. In 2005 a successful exhibition was held at the Erdmann Contemporary Gallery in Cape Town. He also created the Purple Hominid mural at the Cradle of Humankind in Sterkfontein, South Africa. To repeat a pattern of his life, Paul once again used a trip to New York and the Dieu Donne Papermill to create a new technique, a set of paintings made from paper pulp to which colour had been applied. Paul exhibited a series of paper pulp paintings at the Erdmann Contemporary in Cape Town. He held a solo exhibition in Johannesburg where he featured monumental sculptural pieces which included drawing, painting and sculptural techniques. ‘’Information taken from the book "Paul Du Toit" published on the occasion of the exhibition "Fighting with my Weak Hand" at the University of Johannesburg, South Africa in 2006’’ ‘’Edited by Pippa Tsilik’’



  1. ^ "DU TOIT PAUL JOHAN (31/10/1965 - 9/1/2013)". Retrieved 2014-01-13. 

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