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Hennie Niemann

INEA-NEWS made an interview with the artist Hennie Niemann Snr.

By : Abdelali Najah


About Hennie

I was born in Bloemfontein in 1941, where I attended school and university, and qualified as a teacher.

I taught for seventeen years while painting after hours. In 1983 I moved my family to Onrus River, a seaside hamlet on the Cape South coast favored by artists, to pursue a career as professional artist. My painting approach is strongly influenced by the character and of the subject matter I am portraying.

I derive my inspiration from Fynbos pickers collecting bouquets of indigenous flowers and fisher folk sorting their catch. These outdoor scenes are depicted in strong sunlit colors – giving expression to the African sunlight and the buzz of activity.

I work mainly in oils, and sometimes use pastels over the oils in mixed media on paper to effectively create a softer more subtle finish when painting interior scenes. Paintings using this technique are some of favourite works, portraying my wife and daughter – my former two favorite models, busy reading, sewing or simply relaxing.


INEA-NEWS made an interview with the artist Hennie Niemann Snr.  


* Do you want to present the artist Hennie Niemann Snr to the readers?

Hennie grew up in a middle class suburban family, and was known by his friends to have an assortment of art materials in his room from an early age.

His first artwork was exhibited at age 12 where the well known artist Gregoire Boonzaier recognized his talent and encouraged him. Later, after Hennie married and had children he gave up his career in teaching to become Gregoires neighbour and friend and they painted together regularly.

Hennie became an artist in his own right and is mainly known locally, but also has an international following.

Hennie Niemann


* Can you speak to us about your debuts in the world of the plastic arts?

The father of a friend, who was a sign writer by trade, and also part time painter, gave me tubes with left over paint, he never realized that he launched my painting career in a sense….

I had an intense love of art since early childhood.Because I could not afford my own paintings, I would  made pictures after the Old Masters,  The sale of my first painting was a great surprise and this encouraged me tremendously.

Other artists that offered support and advice with my childhood efforts, besides Gregoire, were George Enslin and Gert van der Walt.


* Do you want speak to us themes of your artistic paintings?

My main theme is the Harvesting of wheat or wildflowers called Fynbos in South Africa. I also have a love of Clowns, Ballet Dancers, Still Life art, Fishermen, Abstract Art and faces of Women with Arum Lilies. I used to also draw and paint scenes and buildings from the areas I was visiting, for instance the Fishermen Cottages of Arniston.


* Why these characters way Haitian of Gauguin and Van Gogh?

The local workers labour under the hot sun picking wheat and Flowers and watching them is like watching poetry in motion, I also learned a lot by studying the techniques of other masters before me, such as Van Gogh, which I truly admire.

“If you can forgive a man for devoting himself to a thorough study of pictures, you must admit that a love of books is as sacred as a love of Rembrandt, and I even think that the two complement each other.”

Vincent van Gogh.July 1880

The key to many things is a basic knowledge, and my desire grew to gain more knowledge, so I kept on buying books and studying other artists.

Hennie Niemann


* What are techniques used on your artistic works?

I usually use a board that served as a palette and is covered with paint swatches and has some texture, I draw the outline of my design and then fill it with thick strokes of Oil paint


* How did the artist Hennie Niemann Snr discover the naive art?

I research other artists almost daily and I admire the simplicity and freedom of art brut. I love Debuffet art and had a period where I painted very rough works and also abstract symbols together with artist Therese Rink Streicher.


* what represents the paint for you?

Art is my life, the air I breathe


* Your last words …

I  discovered some truths in connection of being an artist:

  • “……the sole substance of genius is the daily act of showing up.
  • ” John Steinbeck
  • “Inspiration exists, but it has to find you working
  • ” Pablo Picasso


© IENA-NEWS de 2018

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