Bosveld signed 'Pierneef' (lower left) oil on composition board 55 x 67cm (21 5/8 x 26 3/8in).
"Truly national art has to be born out of your own surroundings and your own soil." (the artist, as quoted in Grosskopf, 1947, p.23)
The Bosveld landscape was a constant source of inspiration to Pierneef. This sub-tropical woodland, found in northwest South Africa, is notable for its tall trees and clusters of shrubs. The artist takes this verdant panorama and transforms it, so that the whole landscape becomes a rhythm. One no longer looks at the component parts and the viewer is absorbed by the lyrical nature of the scene, the image is now a paean expressing Pierneef's love for his treasured land.
As Bouman observes, "If it were aiming at a faithful imitation of the wild semi-tropical bosveld, it would never show such a highly developed and organised order....Pierneef thus tries to perfect nature, but it is an arduous task".
There is rarely any sign of human life in Pierneef's landscapes. Instead, idealized trees, rocks and mountains are used to depict an ordered yet detached world of nature. With a keen interest in architecture as well as painting, the laws of parallelism fascinated Pierneef. Motivated in part by writings on the subject by artist Willem van Konijenburg, whom Pierneef met during the 1920s, the artist's interest in parallel lines and the necessity of rhythm remained constant throughout his career.
A more stylized method after 1935 and during Pierneef's time in Namibia led to a far less analytical approach although the influence of architecture can still undoubtedly be observed. Coupled with pure colouring, Bosveld embodies a static brilliance beautifully depicting Pierneef's love for order and tranquillity; each tree, although individual and unique in its shape, conforms to the same structured diagonal design. This is very much a characteristic of the artist's mature work.
BIBLIOGRAPHY: E. Berman, Art and Artists of South Africa, (Cape Town and Rotterdam, 1983) A.C. Bouman, Painters in South Africa, (Cape Town, 1948) P.G. Nel, J.H. Pierneef: His Life and Work, (Cape Town, 1990)