Jacob Hendrik Pierneef
Jacob Hendrik Pierneef (1886 - 1957) was born in Pretoria the son of a Dutch builder; he received little formal training as a result of the financial constraints of his back ground. His family returned to Holland during the Boer War and it was here that he came into contact with old master pictures which had a lasting impression on him. He studied at the Rotterdamse Kusakademie and when he returned to South Africa, aged 18, he met with and was encouraged by established artists such as Frans Oerder, Anton van Wouw and Hugo Naude His first group exhibition in 1902 was with Anton van Wouw and Hugo Naude. He worked for 10 years in the State Library before he accepted a position as an art lecturer at the Heidelberg College of Education and also started teaching drawing at the Pretoria College of Education in 1919. This position gave him the opportunity to focus on his art but in 1923 he decided to become a full-time painter. Pierneef lived in Namibia between 1923 - 1924. In 1929 Pierneef accepted the commission to paint 32 panels for the Johannesburg Railway Station, a task he completed by 1932. He visited Europe from 1925 to 1926 which broadened his outlook. He visited London from 1933 to 1935 as he was commissioned to seven murals for South Africa House on Trafalgar Square.
However, he excelled at landscape portrayals of the highveld which provided a lifelong source of inspiration for him. Pierneef's style presents a formalized and ordered view of the South African landscape, often monumental in its conception, uninhabited and influenced by the dramatic light and colour of the highveld. One of South Africa's leading landscape artists and the first artists' whose work was conditioned by the local environment, his distinctive style is widely recognized. Pierneef reduced and simplified landscape to geometric structure. He used flat planes, lines and colour in order to present harmony and order in nature. Pierneef held his first solo exhibition in 1913 and participated in many group exhibitions. He accepted a number of government commissions and his work can be seen in many private, corporate and public collections including the Africana Museum, Durban Art Gallery, Johannesburg Art Gallery, King George VI Art Gallery, Pierneef Museum, Pretoria Art Gallery and the William Humphreys Art Gallery.
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