The three great truths about being an artist according to Hennie Niemann:
“Inspiration exists, but it has to find you working” – Pablo Picasso
“The sole substance of genius is the daily act of showing up” – John Steinbeck
“Every day is a painting day, but every day is not masterpiece day” – Gregoire Boonzaier
Art has always been an integral part of Hennie Niemann’s life. At school, he was constantly painting and drawing. At the age of 12, Hennie was invited to exhibit his work alongside leading artists including: Frank Speers, Piet van Heerden, David Botha, Frans Claerhout and Gregoire Boonzaier. “After seeing my work, Gregoire extended an invitation to me to visit him in Cape Town.”
“During my first year at university I decided to take up Gregoire’s invitation and set of to Cape Town on my Vespa from Bloemfontein. In Cape Town I was so overwhelmed with my expectation of this great artist – I got cold feet and returned not meeting him!”
Artwork Top: Fisherman
Artwork Above: Harvesters, Private Collection
Later, 1964, he completed his BA (HED). His first teaching post was held in Bloemfontein, where he met the Ampenbergers and became good friends with Frans Claerhout whose expressionism became a style Niemann is associated with till today.
“During 1973 I had some works for sale in Pretoria and I was informed that Gregoire Boonzaier bought one and wanted to meet the artist! To his great surprise it was by the boy he met many years ago. Once again Gregoire invited me to visit him. I could finally meet him in 1975 and we formed a strong friendship that lasted till Gregoire’s passing in 2005.”
Hennie often claims: “I never consciously aimed at developing my own style; evolution came naturally over time through studying art and hard work, although to the trained eye, the influence of many artists is discernible in my work. – each artist stands on the shoulders of artistic giants.”
Artwork: Abstract, Private Collection
Some of Niemann’s favourate subject matters include:
“My harvesting scenes capture the beautiful mountain scenery and the wonderful feeling of harvesting. I place my figures in a setting that would enhance the poetry of the harvesting dance.”
His clowns, as with Picasso and Rouault, are a mirror of emotion. The eyes express a wide range of emotion. Both the clown and the onlooker attempt to understand each other’s emotion.
“The clown is about revealing a fragile imperfect part of ourselves. By exposing it for all to see, we turn our weakness into strength.” – Lolita Corina
“When I know your soul, I will paint your eyes” – Amedeo Modigliani
Faces and Flowers
Visiting flower markets both local and abroad holds a special kind of charm to him – Faces among flowers.
“I can watch buyers and sellers to my heart’s content. Shy young people buying a first flower for a date, people of all ages attracted to the beauty of the bloom. Its left to the artist to combine the two elements – to strike a balance. Portray a human face set among colourful flowers, the one enhancing the other.”
A special credit text to the publisher of Hennie Niemann Snr Biography: Sas Kloppers “Creative Spirit” – A truly inspirational Autobiography