Art lovers are in for a special experience with the first solo exhibition at a commercial gallery in South Africa of world renowned poet, writer and artist, Breyten Breytenbach.

More than 30 of Breytenbach’s works spanning four decades can be seen at the Stevenson Gallery in Woodstock in Cape Town.

As a committed opponent of apartheid, Breytenbach spent more than seven years in prison.

A prolific writer Breytenbach’s books have been published in a number of international languages and received numerous local and international awards.

79-year-old Breytenbach is known for his powerful, sometimes brutal and often beautiful words. But his message goes beyond the written word.

He had his first exhibition as painter in the 60s in Amsterdam and has never laid the brush down.

The exhibition is the culmination of a conversation that started five years ago with Stevenson Gallery co-director, Joost Bosland. Bosland says Breytenbach confessed to him that he prefers painting and finds it more relaxing than writing. “He wants the paintings to speak for him.”

Entitled 81 ways of letting go a late self, the exhibit features work from as far back at the 1970s. It also features new work completed within the last year.

The recurring motif of an open window and birds can be seen in many of the works. Bosland says Breytenbach’s paintings tell a story.

“He paints literary. Paintings tell a story. How he still believes we need to look and find utopia.”

Breytenbach now mainly lives and works in Spain but also spends time in Paris and Cape Town. Bosland says the exhibit is a unique opportunity to see Breytenbach’s work.