Review: Pierneef at La Motte


pierneefBeing in a room surrounded by over a hundred original pieces by Jacobus Hendrik Pierneef can do but one thing: leave you dumbfounded and in awe.

La Motte has had a long-standing relationship with Pierneef’s art. Owner Hanneli Rupert-Koegelenberg first contacted Marita Pierneef-Baily (Pierneef’s daughter) in London in 2002, and they soon became friends. Their friendship and collaboration saw 42 of Pierneef’s works winging their way back to South Africa and onto the walls of La Motte, to be admired by the people of South Africa. Recently, Marita added two tiny Karoo landscapes – painted by her father for her doll’s house! – to the collection.

2017 is special for the Pierneefs, with this year being the 60th commemoration of the great artist’s death as well as the celebration of his daughter Marita’s 90th birthday. It’s the perfect year for a tribute exhibition.

The themes brought across from Pierneef’s art perfectly intertwine with the beautifully curated La Motte farm. Wines and gourmet delights are prepared by chef Michele Theron at the Pierneef à la Motte restaurant, and we were treated to a Pierneef-inspired lunch after the opening which defied description in its creativity, subtle tastes and seductive flavours.

Added to La Motte’s permanent collection are loaned pieces from various public and private collections. These provide an astonishingly rich view of Pierneef’s art throughout his lifetime, giving context to the man, the artist and the heritage.

The exhibition also highlights his vast travels through Africa and Europe, with the most evocative of his pieces created in his home country, South Africa. Expect to see fantastical clouds, indigenous trees that evoke the dusty smell of the bushveld, and sweeping landscapes with wide-open skies.

Using a variety of mediums such as oil, pencil, chalk and watercolours, Pierneef explored a number of art forms as well – producing paintings, lino cuts, drawings, and even book covers. The exhibition is an incredibly comprehensive and exquisite display of his work, and includes his iconic ‘Composition in blue’. This, according to the splendid hardcover catalogue’s tribute by his daughter, is his greatest piece.

‘It is a culmination of everything he ever worked for. It not only conveys his impression of the Bushveld landscape, it is much more: a poem, a way of life and a philosophy; it speaks of capacity for work and imagination; it is cloudy and yet drenched with sun, calm and yet stormy; a creed, a prayer and an adulation. An eternal reflection of his mind.’ – Marita Bailey-Pierneef

An adulation, indeed.

Briony Chisholm
Instagram: brionyetc

The exhibition runs at La Motte until January 2018. Keeping up with the times, some of the works have QR codes next to them, for an interactive experience.


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