John Kramer was born in Worcester, Western Cape, South Africa in 1946. At school he received tuition at the Hugo Naude Art Centre, Worcester and majored in painting at the Michaelis School of Fine Art at the University of Cape Town. In 1968 he won the Michaelis prize. He holds a diploma in Fine Art.
He began to record small town shops, corner cafes, bioscopes and general dealer stores with his camera in the early 1970s, fearing that they might soon disappear. The supermarket was coming to town. Television was about to make its presence felt. He wanted to hold onto the memory.
He realized that these ordinary buildings meshed with his idea of doing something essentially South African. This idea crystallized after his first overseas trip to Europe in 1974. On his return he suddenly realized how unique and extraordinary the local townscape was. Influenced by the photo-realism movement of the time, he began to use his photographs as a subject for his realist paintings.
Over a forty-year period he has visited many towns and dorps in search of new material to paint. By now many of the buildings have disappeared or been altered or replaced with branded stores.
Concentrating on light and shadow, tonal values, verticals and horizontals and by eliminating any presence of living beings from his paintings, he has created a body of works that is uniquely South African.
His work is represented in many private, corporate and public collections, including the Iziko: South African National Gallery, Durban Art Gallery and the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan Art Museum, Port Elizabeth .
He is married and has two sons. He lives in the Gardens, Cape Town