For Alistair Meredith, a senior specialist at the auction house, this painting isn’t only special because it is not well known but due to it aptly capturing the language the artist arrived at after being heavily influenced by the Art Nouveau movement and the geometric principles he adopted after a trip to Amsterdam in the early 1920s.
It was a struggle getting there. The first artworks he showed in South Africa that revealed this influence had not been well received.
“The critics responded positively, but the large exhibition he put on at Polliacks (a music shop in Pretoria) that were out and out geometric, was a financial failure. No one wanted to buy them and he returned to his tried and tested style,” says Meredith.
Farm Jonkershoek with Twin Peaks Beyond, which is valued between R6 and R8-million is therefore an example of a compromise the artist reached after his disastrous exhibition at Polliacks. The pink twin peaks in the background are framed by the art nouveau stylised trees in the foreground, imparting this idea of viewing nature, the South African landscape, through an Art Nouveau inspired gaze.
While this unseen Pierneef might cause excitement, a portfolio of 41 images by the world-famous photo-journalist Greg Marinovich which document a brutal war that played out in the country’s townships in the early nineties, are difficult to look at again. A man’s body is suspended mid air as a bullet hits him. A soccer team resplendent in their club’s regalia encircle a fresh grave. A man runs through the street with a gun in his hand. Tyres burn on a street.