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Pierneef-berge / Pierneef mountains

JH Pierneef (1886-1957)

Pienk wolke/ Pink Clouds, 1922. Olieverf op bord/ Oil on board (13.5 x 20 cm). Versameling / Collection: La Motte Museum, Franschhoek

Die Tweelinge Stellenbosch

Linosnee / Linocut. 19.1 x 12.7 cm. La Motte Hoofhuis / Manor House. Versameling / Collection: La Motte Wynlandgoed / Wine Estate

Kranskop met wolke

Linosnee / Linocut. 13.8 x 10.7 cm. Pierneef a La Motte Restaurant. Versameling / Collection: La Motte Wynlandgoed / Wine Estate

As an element of nature, mountains obtain a dominance in most landscape paintings. For Pierneef the study and the inclusion of mountains are more centered around the idea of building blocks and constructions, as his mountain formations usually look like structures of individual rocks pilled onto one another. It is also with his mountains that Pierneef captured beautiful colours of either warm or cold tones, with the portrayal of the Cape mountains it is as if Pierneef applied or stuck to more colder colours and tones for the background which mimic the blue grey appearance of these landscapes. Moving towards the Karoo, these mountains usually got a stroke of pink or orange to have a brighter feel to them.

When Pierneef mentioned key themes such as mountains while discussing his work, he made it very personal, as with the following extract from an interview he also links the San for whom he had great admiration when it came to their use of line, simplicity and earth colours.

My mountains are feeling well again today. I can tell when they are in a good mood – they put on their best colours and try not to look like rocks. It’s the bigness and boldness of Africa that has always inspired me. There were other artists here in these mountains long before we came – some, perhaps before history, others, the little bushmen [San] – more recently – and their pictures are still on the rock walls of caves which were their homes.