Ronnie van Hout was born in Christchurch in 1962. He attended the School of Fine Arts at Canterbury University between 1980 and 1982, where he majored in film. In 1999 in received a Masters of Fine Arts from RMIT University, Melbourne.
Since 1981 Ronnie has exhibited regularly in New Zealand and Australia, and his work has featured in solo and group shows in the USA, Netherlands, Austria and Germany. In 2003 his work was the subject of a major survey show, I've Abandoned Me, an initiative of Dunedin Public Art Gallery. The show toured throughout 2003 and 2004 to the Auckland Public Art Gallery, Auckland; City Gallery, Wellington; and Te Manawa, Palmerston North.
Ronnie has been artist in residence at the ELBA Art Foundation in Nijmegen, the Netherlands (1994); Govett-Brewster Art Gallery and Taranaki Polytechnic in New Plymouth, New Zealand (1996); the International Studio Program at PS1 in New York City, USA (1999); and Künstlerhaus Bethanien in Berlin, Germany (2004 - 2005). In 2004, he was a finalist in the Walters Prize Art Award.
Ronnie works with a wide variety of media including sculpture, video, painting, photography, embroidery and sound recordings. In recent years his work has focused on images of self, the artist portrayed in different guises, as a monkey that paints, a dog that sculpts, and a mystic long-haired vision of the artist holding two talking birds in the palm of his hand. The work is often autobiographical, containing many images and documents of the artist himself.
Self-effacement and humour, so often a feature of the work, shifts what could be seen as a celebration of egoism into something more accessible, and possibly entertaining. His interest in the self as the subject of his work continues.
In November 2007 Ronnie van Hout and author Tessa Duder travelled to Antarctica as part of the Artists to Antarctica programme and in 2008 he had a solo show at Artspace in Sydney titled BED/SIT. He was also the feature artist of the first episode of the Artland series on TVNZ digital.