Johannes Meintjies

Born: 1923, Riversdale, Cape Province Died: 1980, Molteno, Eastern Cape Meintjes was the son of a sheep farmer and spent his first five years on the family farm “Grootzeekoegat” in the Molteno district. After the death of his father in 1928, the family moved to Riversdale, where he became friendly with JEA Volschenk. He already loved to draw and paint from childhood. In 1938 the family moved to Cape Town, and he became serious with his art studies. In 1940 he attended an art exhibition by Maggie Laubser’s work, and that evoked his ardent admiration. He wrote a letter to Laubser and a close friendship developed. At the age of 21 he published a book on Maggie Laubser.

Before Meintjes turned 22, the intense young artist was enjoying the kind of public adulation which was later reserved for youthful idols of the music world. He had begun his studies under Florence Zerffi, a forceful teacher, who impressed on him the need for discipline and condemned the sloppiness of the very artists who soon began to exert the strongest tug on his emotions.

There is no doubt that Johannes Meintjes was an unusually sensitive and gifted youth, whose emotional romanticism found its initial outlet in the direct language of expressionistic shape and colour, but from its earliest phases his painting was literary in orientation and despite his keen appreciation of German expressionism, and his endeavor to adapt it to his needs, he never truly outgrew the callow symbolism of his youthful style nor converted his earlier literary imagery into visually convincing form. Johannes Meintjes died in Molteno, the Cape Province in 1980.

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