Johannes Meintjes

Painting, Author

1923 – 1980


Who was Johannes Meintjes?

JOHANNES MEINTJES was a South African painter that enjoyed tremendous public support for his art since early age and also received international acclaim as an author later on. He is a well known historian and one of South Africa's most versatile artists. The fame he enjoyed as a 21 year old artist is unequalled in the South African history of art. Esmé Berman wrote in her authoritative Art Artists of South Africa that 'the spectacular suddenness with which Johannes Meintjes catapulted to the headlines during the last years of WW2 is a phenomenon seldom equalled in SA cultural history. Before he was 22 years old the intense young artist enjoyed the kind of public adulation which was later reserved for youthful idols of the pop-music world'.Johannes Meintjes died in 1980 and had established himself as a major South African painter and writer. Apart from numerous articles and smaller literary works, he had published 35 books, amongst them authoritative works on South African history.He had painted more than a thousand canvases, produced dozens of sculptures and exhibited in all South Africa's major galleries - sometimes alone and sometimes in the company of artists such as Alexis Preller, JH Pierneef, Gerard Sekoto, Irma Stern, Maggie Laubser and Walter Battiss.Meintjes' work reflects something of the naivety of the African artist… a dimension beyond the purely European and his canvases, painted with the knowledge born out of centuries of European experience, speak with the voice of Africa.Meintjes once said: 'Mine is the vision…sprung from the soil of Africa and I have given it in a personal statement which may find a response in the heart and imagination of another generation.' SUMMARY BIOGRAPHY JOHANNES (PETRUS) MEINTJESBorn: Riversdale, 19 May 1923 Died: Molteno, 7 July 19801923 - 1928 The son of a sheep farmer; spent his first five years on the family farm Grootzeekoegat in the Molteno district (Eastern Cape).1928 After the early death of his father, the family moved to Riversdale; he became friendly with the elderly Abraham Volschenk, drew and painted from childhood and won his first prize at the age of 15 years.1938 The family moved to Cape Town and the 15 year old boy began serious art study under Florence Zerffi (widow of Stratford Caldecot). The speech Meintjes wrote for the Voortrekker Commemoration was broadcast countrywide (and also read by him).1940 An exhibition of Maggie Laubser's work evoked his ardent admiration; he wrote a fan letter to her and a life long close friendship developed.1941 - 1943 Studies languages at the University of Cape Town where he completes a BA degree and published a book on Maggie Laubser at the age of 21 (which became a sought-after Africana item later on). During this period close and life long friendships formed with individuals such as Hubert du Plessis, NP van Wyk Louw, May Hillhouse, Cecil Higgs and Nerine Desmond. He became the youngest member ever of the exclusive 'K’-club and an exhibition of his paintings caused a sensation. Sells his first painting on 28 February 1942 for nine guineas. Completes his first life-sized sculpture in 1942. He published two articles during this period and won the prize for the best Afrikaans article in the Silver Jubilee Edition of 'Groote Schuur’.1944 Moved to Johannesburg to assist Gerrit Bakker with his new bookshop and rented a studio in Market Street. During this period friendships formed with i.a Rosa Nepgen, Hermien Dommisse, Walter Battiss and Alexis Preller. His first exhibition (Gainsborough Gallery, 29 August to 11 September 1944) caused a stir in Johannesburg and Cape Town and he became famous overnight. The fame he enjoyed as a 21 year old artist is unequalled in the South African history of art. Some of Meintjes' first short stories were published during this period. Moved back to Cape Town and taught art at SA College School and Jan Van Riebeeck High School, Cape Town. Group exhibition with Gerard Sekoto, Jean Welz and Maud...

Famous Quotes:

  • My work as a painter… is the condensation, the concentration of the hidden, but ever present, sadness that is in all people

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May 19, 1923
Also known as
  • Johannes Petrus Meintjes
  • South Africa
Jul 7, 1980
Molteno, Eastern Cape

on July 23, 2013


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