Niel Jonker (b.1971, lives and works in Baardskeerdersbos, South Africa) creates animal forms in ceramic to muse on a posthumanist condition. These abstract realist forms are roughly handled with home-made tools toward an expressive mark-making that simultaneously evoke curiosity and contemplation.
With recent work Jonker continues to direct himself toward clay, specifically indigenous ‘wild-clay’ gathered along his native Southern Cape, toward animal forms that incorporate human elements to meditate on a human condition within an ongoing disrupted social context. The resulting sculptures of abstracted and expressive figuritive forms remind one of ancient and animist sculpture.
“Some of these characters are questioning, some are irrationally optimistic, most are from another place.” says the artist who has been journaling dreams since March 2020. “My process may start when spotting wildlife while walking the dog, a cartoon of a friend after dinner, or a scene from a potent dream. This is followed by sketching and rendering small to medium hand-size maquettes which lead up to the large final 60 to 120cm high ceramic sculptures.”
Jonker graduated from Durban University of Technology in 1993 and was a co-founder of the experimantal FLAT Gallery. His art is collected internationally and he is a full-time sculptor in bronze and ceramic, while painting the landscape in oils. Having established several rural community initiatives such as the Baardskeerdersbos Art Route, he a passionate educator that teaches childrens art and artisan bread making part 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”.
Tankwa Artscape Residency