Press Release - 18 March 2011
When Pieter Wenning came to South Africa from Holland at the age of 32 he was not yet established as a professional artist. At this stage, art in South Africa was still in its infancy. Little importance had been achieved and there was no cultural tradition in art except the documentary Africana of Bowler and Baines of the last century. Movements like Impressionism, Expressionism and later Cubism, which had already played their part in European art, were as yet quite unknown to most South Africans. To the public, Wenning’s work came as a revelation and it was not until more than ten years later that he reached, with his first one man exhibition, the wider public that was to accord to him in spite of his short painting life a position unique in this country.
In order to escape the rigours of the Transvaal winter Wenning decided in July 1917 to go to Lourenco Marques for a painting expedition. The weather was lovely and mild compared to the dry, cold and windy winter months of the Transvaal. Wenning enjoyed Lourenço Marques and lost no time in getting down to some earnest painting. As a colourist, Wenning excelled. His paintings, from his earliest studies to his mature works, are distinguished by his use of certain colours which are peculiar to him. He was a master of greens, and he handled with complete control and sensibility the vast range of greens which confront the landscape painter. Lourenço Marques was an eye-opener for Wenning in terms of colour. ‘After L.M. you think in colour, nothing but colour’, Wenning said on his return.
On 21 December 1917 a sale was conducted in Johannesburg at Lezzards of 53 of his works (42 from Mozambique and some others). The catalogue of the sale contained an evaluation by Mr Ernest Lezzard – he said that undoubtedly one of the most individual and outstanding artists in South Africa was Pieter Wenning (sic). Lezzard summed up as follow: ‘Wennings latest lot of work, which have just been painted in Lourenço Marques, show a beauty of conception, a brilliancy of colour and an individuality of view that is absolutely astonishing. His delineation of light and atmosphere is so wonderful that one almost feels the heat shimmering. Wenning handles his colour in a manner that is totally different to any other artist in the country and it is in this handling that his individuality proves so strong. To those who love Art for Arts sake it will be almost a crime if they do not endeavour to obtain one of these charming works’.
For further information contact Imre Lamprecht or Annelise Coetzee on 011 880 3125 or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org