This Is Not A Chameleon: Johannes Stötter’s Exquisite Optical Illusions

By on April 28, 2015

Bodypaint artist Johannes Stötter has created an exquisite optical illusion video to show us just exactly how his amazing illusory body art “unfolds,” revealing that the chameleon we think we see here is actually… two beautifully painted models.


As Belgian surrealist painter René Magritte might have said, “Ceci n’est pas une chameleon.”

According to his agency’s website at WB Productions, Stötter worked for four hours to design the piece and the bodypainting took six hours with the help of an assistant. He describes the process further:


“After I designed the chameleon, which took me about half an hour I tried the positions with two models and it seemed to work, even it was quite difficult for them to hold the position, especially for the lower model to bend the legs. As there are many kinds of chameleons with very different shapes and colours it seemed to be a very flexible animal for an illusion bodypainting. So I worked about four days to design the motive bigger and paint it with colours. The bodypainting took me about six hours with the help of an assistant.


I covered the hair with natural clay to make the heads seem bald heads. The models were two sisters, friends of mine. They were very happy to model for this motive. I am also very happy, it is kind of magic, especially the colours. Most people who already saw it say that the chameleon is even better than the frog and the parrot.”


According to his own website’s bio,

As a fully autodidactic artist Stötter developed his painting style and his bodypainting technique without any relation to other bodypainting artists and their work. He joined the international bodypainting community in 2009 at the World Bodypainting Festival in Austria, where he took part at the bodypainting world championship for the first time.

In the following years he won many awards, most notably he was WORLD CHAMPION 2012, Vice World Champion 2011 and 2014, Italian Champion 2011 and 2013, winner of the North American Bodypainting Championship, Atlanta, Georgia, USA 2013 and Winner of the “International Fine Art Bodypainting Award” 2014.


In 2013 he became world famous with his legendary creation of a tropical frog consisting of 5 human bodies, so he made headlines in the world press and was featured in newspapers, magazines and online magazines as New York Post, New York Daily News, The Sun, The Times, The Mirror, The Guardian, Dailymail, Bild, Stern, Spiegel, Focus, Süddeutsche Zeitung, View and many more, in TV channels as CNN, BBC, TV Globo, RAI, ZDF, Pro7, RTL, DW, ORF, ntv Japan and many more, as well as in the published books “The Art of Bodypainting” (Peter de Ruiter), “Champions at Heart” (Karala B), “The Human Canvas” (Karala B) and in the Calendar “Painted Bodies” (Weingarten Verlag).

Today Johannes teaches Bodypainting at the World Bodypainting Academy – at the WBF (World Bodypainting Festival as well as around the world – and Anatomic Bodypainting at Yoni Academy. He works and exhibits all around the globe in collaboration with his agency WB Production.



About Bryan Thomas

Bryan Thomas has been a freelancing writer/critic for All Music Guide, and a contributor to Launch, Music Connection, Big Takeover and numerous other publications and entertainment websites, blogs and zines, most of them long gone. He's written more than sixty sets of liner notes. He’s also worked for over twenty years at mostly reissue record labels -- prior to that he worked in bookstores and record stores, going all the way back to the original vinyl daze. He lives in the Miracle Mile neighborhood of Los Angeles, CA.