Capturing stillness on canvas

Hermann Niebuhr prepares for his new exhibition.

BRAAMFONTEIN – Artist Hermann Niebuhr, known for his cityscapes that seem to pulsate with the very life of Johannesburg itself, made a departure from the theme in preparation for his upcoming exhibition.

Titled Stillness, Niebuhr’s new body of work has its point of origin in the artist’s quest to find a point of stillness and balance, following personal trials and tribulations.

“This series of paintings started after some major life changes. I went through a trying time, and took up meditation to try cope, regroup and find my haven,” he said.

Along with meditation, Niebuhr also took up cycling, and spent 12 days riding in the Himalayas with a group of friends, which he described as an “incredible journey”. The cyclists also rode through De Hel, somewhat closer to home.

“Passing through these landscapes was conducive to finding paintings, and I found they possessed the sense of the stillness I was after. I wanted to paint works that evoke a sense of stillness in the viewer,” he said.

Niebuhr said he chose not to identify which of the paintings were set in the Himalayas and which were set in the Karoo.

“The Himalayan trip was physically gruelling, and that translated into some extraordinary paintings, but it’s not about geography or place, rather a sense of space. Poetry resides in these hollow physical trunks of ours, and poetry is what I’m after,” he said.

Niebuhr’s new show will take place at Braamfontein’s The Canopy, and the artist is more excited than usual about the opening night. Niebuhr has roped in the talents of musician Chris Letcher and filmmaker Lloyd Ross to add another dimension to the exhibition.

“I didn’t plan to exhibit these paintings, and when the works started selling, I realised I wanted to see the paintings together. I wasn’t able to exhibit at the gallery I usually work with, so I approached The Canopy. It’s an amazing space, and I wanted to really utilise it, so I contacted Letcher and Ross who will contribute audio and visual elements,” said Niebuhr.

While Letcher is composing music for the show, Niebuhr said he didn’t know what Ross would do with his camera.

“There will be a performance on the opening night, and we don’t know what the third thing we create will be. Whatever it is, it will be unique to that night, and then it’ll be gone,” he said.

Stillness will open on 21 November at The Canopy, 81 De Korte Street, Braamfontein, at 6pm, and will run until 7 December.

Details: 072 224 6469; [email protected]; www.niebuhr.co.za

  AUTHOR
Graeme Shackleford

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