An instinctive contemporary artist
Hennie works instinctively, rather than academically. He wants to draw out emotions, not academic discussions. He has a great love for what he does, and there are few things as satisfying to him as a good, productive day in his studio.
“Africa in my blood”
Hennie’s art career began under the mentorship of his father, artist Hennie Niemann Snr. The encouragement from Gregoire Boonzaaier and art dealer, Johans Borman, help built the confidence of a young artist early in life. The inspiration for his unique style stemmed from two years of conscription after school, where he was placed in the Kruger National Park. Surrounded by bush and wildlife, his love for the great African outdoors was born. He began to do sketches while stationed at Kruger, and later, his affinity for the rhythm and harmony of Africa would become a key trademark.
This affinity led to many adventures across Africa, travelling to the legendary Busanga and lesser-known Liuwa plains, in the north-western part of Zambia, making his way through Mozambique, the mighty Zambezi River, Gorongosa National Park, Lake Malawi, and later Botswana.
“I think of Africa as one of the few wild and unspoilt places in the world. There is something in its landscapes, and in the air that just can’t be found anywhere else. The continent has been a constant inspiration in my art career – from my first bistre sketches of animals to more expressive dancing and people oil paintings. Even though African themes don’t feature much in my work today, I’d say my art has an African feel.”
"“Lines and colour transcend mood and emotion”"
Hennie’s authentic personal style is grounded in the art of drawing, being inspired by Rembrandt, Tiepolo and Daumier. His mastery and elegance of lines later manifested itself in broad and confident brushstrokes. Today, Hennie is a painter who predominantly works in oil on canvas. His creative and technical ownership of this medium is founded in an openness to learn from great artists, such as South African Walter Battiss, Irma Stern and Maurice van Essche.
Colour plays centre stage in Hennie’s art. Experimenting with Fauvism, brought vibrancy and new emotional context to movement, energy and rhythm. It rendered music and heartbeat to the canvas, making works come to life.
Cubism, and particularly Picasso greatly impacted the artist’s development. His style has progressively gravitated towards greater abstraction, not in its purest form, but rendered in a fragmented style of richly coloured, angular, hard-edged forms, restructured to capture the energy and mood of complex compositions.
Hennie has woven the essence of many creative influences into his own distinct and unique style. “It is impossible for me not to be influenced by art that I love and admire, in a sense I am an eternal student of the arts. In the same breath, if I did not create my own distinctive style, my own voice from all this wealth of inspiration and influence, then I would have failed miserably. To use a Picasso quote, “Good artists copy, great artists steal” seems apt.”
"The artist boasts a list of sell-out solo exhibitions and outstanding results at South African and international auctions"
At 48 years of age, Hennie Niemann Jnr is one of South Africa most successful contemporary artists. Despite his success, balance is always his primary goal. “Of course, I’d love to be top of my game in my industry, but achieving real balance is so much more valuable. Too often, we look up to these successful icons, only to find out that their personal lives are a horrible failure.”