The high school pupil whose artwork caused a social media uproar last year after it was labelled "evil" and "satanic" has passed matric with flying colours.
Like thousands of others across the country, Gary Louw received an SMS with his matric results shortly after midnight last night.
"I’m very happy. It turns out I’ve managed to uphold my usual high standards," says the 18-year-old, who achieved distinctions in all eight of his subjects.
Louw, who’d completed his Independent Examinations Board (IEB) exams at the private school Grantleigh in Richards Bay, KwaZulu-Natal, found himself at the centre of a controversy in November last year. Pastor Andrew Anderson, a parent at the school and pastor at the Ballito Apostolic Faith Mission (AFM), shared a video on social media in which he denounced his art as "demonic and satanistic". Grantleigh is part of the Curro school group.
Anderson went on to describe the artwork as "making a mockery of Christianity".
In an interview last year (YOU, November 7), Louw said his art had been misrepresented and taken out of context. Far from making a mockery of Christianity, it was meant to portray his personal journey of faith and his disgust with the commercialisation of religion.
Louw achieved 99% in both Maths and Fine Arts, as well as 94% in Physical Science. This puts him in the top 1% of achievers in these subjects in the IEB exams.
"I see it as a bit of poetic justice, given the controversy I was subjected to shortly before my final matric exams," he says, chuckling.
'If anything, it motivated me to work harder'
Furthermore, he achieved 90% in Afrikaans, 93% in English, 96% in Life Orientation and 90% in Applied Mathematics. His "worst" mark was 88% for Life Sciences.
He says his plans are still on course to study Science and Astrophysics at the University of Cape Town.
"Though, in the meantime, I’ve also decided to also pursue a professional art career on the side," he adds.
Louw is excited about the documentary film Gert Koen of KIEM productions made about him and his art over the December holidays. He says the doccie is his official and detailed reaction to the "sensationalistic and reactionary" responses to his art after the pastor’s video went viral.
"The documentary will be released on the same platform where the attack on my art was launched."
Despite everything, Louw reckons the controversy didn’t have a huge impact on his studies, because he didn’t allow any disruptions to his study schedule.
"If anything, it motivated me to work ever harder and prove people wrong."