Johann Louw was born in Bellville, Cape Town, in 1965 and graduated with a Masters in Fine Art from Stellenbosch University in 1992. He has exhibited to great critical acclaim in South Africa and internationally. In 2007, the Sanlam Art Collection presented a mid-career retrospective as a tribute to Louw's extensive output and distinguished career over the past two decades. This exhibition toured the country in 2008 and 2009, and was accompanied by a publication on the artist. In 2009, Louw was selected to form part of Linguaggi del Mondo:Languages of the World an official collateral exhibition to the 53rd Venice Biennale in 2009. In 2010 he exhibited in Environmental Concern and Human Existence at the 4th Beijing International Art Biennale, China, and Parallel the official exhibition of the Sabbionetta Biennale for Contemporary Art in Italy.
Solo exhibitions include: New Paintings in 2010 at SMAC in Stellenbosch, Terugkoms van Cythera (Return from Cythera) in 2013 and Gestaltes, an exhibition of large scale works on paper in 2014, both at SMAC in Cape Town. The University of Johannesburg Art Gallery presented his Et in Arcadia Ego in 2013. Louw's last solo exhibition, Loog, was presented at SMAC Gallery in Stellenbosch in 2016.
Johann Louw was awarded the Ampersand Fellowship in 2014. He was most recently included in Home Truths, curated by Micheal Godby, at the Iziko South African National Gallery in Cape Town in 2016.