HENNIE NIEMANN SNR
Hennie was born in 1941 and had a normal, quiet middle-class childhood. He grew up quite independently as the only boy amongst four sisters. He always had an intense interest in art and books and would spend hours as a child looking at framed art in shop windows, or look up different artworks in the books of the school’s library. As a child, he experimented extensively with media available to him at the time and sometimes used the back of a cereal box to draw on. He also showed a love for sport and was at age twelve the youngest entrant up to that date of the well-known Naval Hill Race.
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Early in his career, Hennie studied Pieter Wenning and of course Gregoire Boonzaier, and later discovered the French Impressionists, like Monet, Vuillard, and shortly after that, the Flemish expressionists like Constant Permeke, and Gustaaf de Smet, and they all had had a great impact on his life.
As a young adult Hennie attended retrospective exhibitions abroad, for instance, artists like Soutine, Degas, Van Gogh, Rouault, Bonnard, Seurat, Picasso to name a few.
Later on, German expressionism also became one of my favourite art movements like Max Pechstein and Otto Mueller, and his paintings often reflect a combination of Flemish - and German Expressionism.
Father Claerhout also made a huge impact on him, and expressionism became a style that he became associated with. During Hennie’s time as a teacher at Tweespruit agricultural school, he became very good friends with Father Claerhout. His generous attitude towards others and his humble demeanor made a great impression on Hennie, and it guides his life to this day.
Hennie’s magic comes from his ability to paint in so many different styles and genres.
He has established a vast following of local collectors, but his work is part of some very substantial private local and international collections.
Hennie’s work, style and influences
He is well known for his more traditional works comprising Harvesters and Fynbos Pickers (our district is the only location on earth where fynbos can be found, making it even more meaningful as subject matter). His other genres are Abstracts, Ballet, Bistre, Clowns, Dreams, Faces Amongst Flowers, Fishermen, Fisherman’s Houses,
Harvesters, Interiors, Landscapes, Linocuts, Monotypes, Musical instruments, Raka (a series – a work in progress), Sculptures, Seascapes, Still Life and Various other topics. Recently he founded a Limited Edition Prints company, in part to fund Nika Trust. Nika Trust is focussed on poverty relief especially in the food supply and education arenas.
Hennie earned the nickname “Modderpotjies” in junior school. This was a result of his friends usually finding him working on a painting, surrounded by containers of turpentine, linseed oil, and brushes, and it sometimes took a bit of convincing to get him to join them to play games outside.
He qualified as a teacher in 1964 and after 19 years of teaching decided to move to Onrus to pursue a full-time career as an artist. He shared a lengthy correspondence with Gregoire Boonzaier who showed an interest in Hennie and his art for quite a period, and it was ultimately Gregoire’s encouragement that led to him moving to Onrus, and becoming Gregoire’s neighbour and painting partner. Side by side they would paint trees, scenery and still life paintings together, and to this day Gregoire’s influence is noticeable in some of Hennie’s works.