(1968 – )

Connor Cullinan

My work is about visual perception, which began as a contemporary extension of 1960s Op art into the realm of figuration. Op art introduced the notion of the artwork as an experience rather than an inert object, by foregrounding the act of looking. My paintings similarly invite the viewer to engage with them through prolonged gazing. This focused attention on looking aims to make the viewer self-consciously aware of their own sense of sight, to allow for an investigation into visual perception and to reaffirm the visual in visual art.

The subtle optical illusions that the paintings give rise to illuminate the processes in the brain where perception begins to disintegrate. The sense of transience and dematerialisation is reinforced by the binary line technique used to construct the subject matter: much of the space between the dark lines is the empty ground of the canvas, which effectively makes the subjects only half there. The dark lines read as a screen of parallel filaments through which one peers at the ground and as one does so, the subjects appear to dissolve and move, suggesting the invisible kinetic energy that lies beneath solid form.


Cullinan was born in 1968 in Pietermaritzburg. He studied fine art at the University of Kwazulu-Natal and later in 2011 completed a Post Graduate Diploma in Art at the University of Cape Town’s Michaelis School of Art. Since 2004, Cullinan has worked as a lecturer in Cape Town, teaching visual communication, illustration, surface design, graphic design, and drawing at several higher education institutions.

Primarily Cullinan is a painter. However, he does also show extreme skill when it comes to printmaking, and thus, he has also integrated screen printing into his painting practice.

Cullinan has been exhibiting in South African galleries since 1991, including at Obert Contemporary, Erdmann Contemporary, Barnard, and WHATIFTHEWORLD. His screen prints have been shown at the FNB Joburg Art Fair, Cape Town Art Fair, and Turbine Art Fair by the South African Print Gallery and in Queretaro and Oaxaca (Mexico) by Rust-en-Vrede Gallery. His paintings and prints are in the Nando’s collection (in various countries) and in private collections in Europe and the United States.


Bachelor of Arts, University of KwaZulu-Natal

Post Graduate Diploma in Art, University of Cape Town


Solo Exhibitions


Optimal Vibration, Group Exhibition, Graham Contemporary, Johannesburg

11/11, DAOR Contemporary, Cape Town    

Saturnine, Association for Visual Arts, Cape Town

Carne Vale, Obert Contemporary, Johannesburg

River of January, Obert Contemporary, Johannesburg

Brazilian, Gallery 125, London (cancelled days before the opening, due to the theft of all the works)

Fluid, Mau Mau Gallery, Cape Town   


Group Exhibitions


Sunny Side Up, Graham Contemporary, Johannesburg, South Africa

New Day, Graham Contemporary, Johannesburg                                                                                       

Home is Where the Art is, Zeitz MOCAA, Cape Town                                                                               
Rites of Passage
, GalleryOne11, Cape Town

Urban Archaeology, DAOR Contemporary, Cape Town
Monochrome, Barnard, Cape Town

Relief, Warren Editions, Cape Town
The South African Print Gallery, Cape Town Art Fair                                                                                                                                                                                                           

The South African Print Gallery, FNB Joburg Art Fair, Johannesburg
The South African Print Gallery, Turbine Art Fair, Johannesburg
Rust-en-Vrede Mexican Art Exchange, Galeria Municipal, Queretaro;Taller Tamayo, Oaxaca, Mexico
The South African Print Gallery, That Art Fair, Cape Town                                                                                                

The South African Print Gallery, Cape Town Art Fair                                                                                                   
The South African Print Gallery, Turbine Art Fair, Johannesburg

Oplaag, Aardklop, Potchefstroom
The South African Print Gallery, Prince Albert Art Festival, Prince Albert
The South African Print Gallery, FNB Joburg Art Fair, Johannesburg
The South African Print Gallery, Turbine Art Fair, Johannesburg
In Relief, Warren Editions, Cape Town
Actuality and Illusions, Erdmann Contemporary, Cape Town

Make Me an Offer, Association for Visual Arts, Cape Town
Parliament, Roeland Street Studios, Cape Town

Making Faces, Whatiftheworld Gallery, Cape Town

Graduate Show, Michaelis School of Fine Art, Cape Town

15 x 15, Kanon 21, Cape Town
Own Goal, Association for Visual Arts, Cape Town

SASOL New Signatures Competition, Pretoria
iArt Summer Show, Cape Town

For the Record / Off the Record, gordart gallery, Johannesburg

Whitechapel Open Studios programme, London

Two person show, Grassroots Gallery, Durban


 Artthrob, Wanted, Street Journal (SABC), Mail & Guardian, itch, Art South Africa, Fiesta (Kyknet DSTV)   

Featured Artwork