Malutis by Fouriesburg, Eastern Free State signed and dated 'J.H. Pierneef 1949' (lower left) oil on board 51 x 64cm (20 1/16 x 25 3/16in).
PROVENANCE: Acquired directly from the artist by Professor D.B. Bosman Thence by descent to the current owner
BIBLIOGRAPHY: N.L. Coetzee J.H. Pierneef: the Station Panels, exhibition catalogue, (Stellenbosch, 2010) P.G. Nel, J.H. Pierneef: His Life and work, (Cape Town, 1909)
"He is teaching us to see, understand and to appreciate the rolling miles of veld with the blue mountains in the distance, the strange almost fantastic trees that dot the landscape of our own land" (T. Roos, as quoted in Coetzee, 2010)
In May 1950 at a retrospective of his work at the Pieter Wenning Gallery in Johannesburg, Pierneef described his early work as 'geometric rather than cubist' (Ibid). The present lot could be considered a transition piece which combines elements of the artist's earlier style with a more restrained new style. The painting is primarily composed of a geometric, almost abstract composition, the style in which most of Pierneef's earlier paintings are worked; the paint is applied as blocks of colour, previously thickly pasted onto the canvas with a palette knife. However a more stylized method after 1935 led to a far less analytical approach and a more subdued colour palette such as the one employed here.
A key element which remains throughout Pierneef's work is the static brilliance which beautifully depicts Pierneef's love for order and tranquillity; although individual and unique in its shape, each line conforms to the same structured diagonal design, building up a series of diagonals which lead the view's eye right to the stunning charcoal-coloured mountains in the centre of the painting. This is very much a characteristic of the artist's later work (Nel, 1990, p.136).
The artist returned to the subject of the majestic Maluti Mountains several times, the most notable example being Malutis, Basutoland, one of the twenty-eight panels commissioned for the interior of the Johannesburg Station building (1929).