Hartebeestpoort Dam signed and dated 'Pierneef 40' (lower right) oil on canvas 46 x 61.5cm (18 1/8 x 24 3/16in).
After having achieved a synthesis of the different elements of linear discipline and accurate reflection in nature, by 1935 Pierneef increasingly became concerned with the narrative. Returning to true nature and attention to the artisan skills in painting, Hartebeestpoort Dam is an impressionistic interpretation of the arch dam and its surrounding landscape in the North West Province of South Africa. Often described as the narrator of the beauty of the South African landscape, Pierneef's later works were uncomplicated, expressing a pleasing simplicity which eloquently conveyed the delicacy and vastness of the landscape.
Pierneef's work in the 1940s revisited earlier subjects; however, it was during this time that his landscapes were permeated by pale, fresco colours and suggestive light, articulating the atmosphere of the exposed and untouched land. The thinly painted, blue-hued mountain ranges - less starkly rendered than those of much of Pierneef's earlier work - etched against the crystal-clear sky enhances the ambience of peace and orderliness, undisturbed by any signs of human presence and activity. The tree, a subject which Pierneef often depicted, is suggested to be a symbol in which life forces and life phenomena are represented. In this image, the fusion of the stylised landscape, subtle use of colour, suggestive light and the mysterious depiction of nature, static loneliness and peacefulness, rise, like many of Pierneef's works, above direct representation in meaning.
BIBLIOGRAPHY P.G Nel, J H Pierneef: His Life and His Work, (Cape Town, 1990), pp.149, 152