The three great truths about being an artist according to Hennie Niemann:
“Inspiration exists, but it has to find you working” - Pablo Picasso
“The sole substance of genius is the daily act of showing up” - John Steinbeck
“Everyday is a painting day, but everyday is not masterpiece day” - Gregoire Boonzaaier
Art has always been an integral part of Hennie Niemann’s life Even in his early years, at school, he was constantly painting and drawing. Hennie is in the true sense a self taught artist. He spend many hours analysing and practising his skills, through schetching the works of great international and South African artists of the time.
He attributes the start of his painting career to a painter and sign writer, who allowed him to observe him work, and started him with some oil supplies, Mr Grobbelaar.
At the age of 12, Hennie was invited to exhibit his work alongside leading artists including: Frank Speers, Piet van Heerden, David Botha, Frans Claerhout and Gregoire Boonzaaier. “After seeing my work, Gregoire extended an invitation to me to visit him in Cape Town.”
At a young age, Hennie developed a love for the performing arts and literature especially NP van Wyk Louw, who later influenced his abstract work.
“During my first year at university I decided to take up Gregoire’s invitation and set of to Cape town on my Vespa from Bloemfontein. In Cape Town I was so overwhelmed with my expectation of this great artist - I got cold feet and returned not meeting him!”
Later, 1964, he completed his BA (HED). His first post was held at the Van Kerken School in Bloemfontein. During these years he met the Ampenbergers and became good friends with Frans Claerhout who’s expressionism became a style Niemann is associated with till today.
“I spend one day on a good work and three days on a bad one” - Father Frans Claerhout
“During 1973 I had some works for sale in Pretoria. I was informed that Gregoire Boonzaaier bought one and wanted to meet the artist! To his great surprise it was by the boy he met many years ago. Once again Gregoire invited me to visit him. I finally met him in 1975 and we formed a strong friendship that lasted till Gregoire’s passing in 2005.”
Hennie and his family decided to move to Onrus in 1983 and left teaching to become a self sustained artist.
Hennie often claims:“I never consciously aimed at developing my own style evolution came naturally over time through studying art and hard work, although to the trained eye, the influence of many artists is discernible in my work. - each artist stands on the shoulders of artistic giants.”
A special credit text to the publisher of Hennie Niemann Snr Biography: Sas Kloppers “Creative Spirit” - A truly inspirational Autobiography