Niël Jonker, born in 1971, is a sculptor who paints prolifically and trains artisan bakers from his home studio in Baardskeerdersbos. Niël grew up on a farm in the Little Karoo where he developed a close bond with nature and this has informed his working processes and themes as a central concern over time.
His landscape paintings have mostly been painted in the fields of the Overberg and beneath the coastal mountains of the Strandveld, with painting trips to the Karoo, Namibia and abroad.
“I attempt to capture the spirit of place and a moment in time by working exclusively outdoors. I find this lends the work a sense of vitality and timelessness that honours the land”.
The realist sculptures represent some earlier editions of the last decade, with recent portraits settled onto more earthy concerns.
The past three years saw an excursion into exploring animist possibilities which has delivered intuitively imagined creatures such s the 1.5m bronze Totterman – a sort of totem to masculine playfulness.
Then more recently earth/land meditations have delivered an upturned farmer and a portrait of the artist’s father (also a farmer and legendary rugby player) asleep in front of the rugby on the TV. Here bronze is combined with cast and fired earth sourced from local sites to enquire further into the nature of relationships with place. Read more …
Presently, Niël is exploring themes of place and portraiture by using timeless low-temperature pit-firing methods on foraged clay earth.
Most of the sculptures are of modest scale to suit the private collector while simultaneously serving as scale models for larger commissions.