Monday, November 22, 2010
Tuesday, July 6, 2010
Tuesday, June 15, 2010
Her text reads:
There is also a handful of established artists working outside the conventional gallery/curator structure. One of Joburg's most interesting (and affordable) emerging talents is painter Hermann Niebuhr (www.niebuhr.co.za), who has exhibited several series exploring Joburg's city spaces -- from empty lobbies in Hillbrow apartment blocks to a recent show inspired by the city's disappearing mine dumps, exhibited at the AngloGold Ashanti gallery in Newtown.
Monday, June 7, 2010
It will be a solo show. I'm working on the paintings now.
From the Casa Labia website, about the venue:
Built in 1929 to reflect the spirit of 18th century Venice, Casa Labia is the former Muizenberg residence of Count and Countess Natale Labia.
Following a complete two-year restoration by the family, this much-loved national monument was re-opened to the public on 5 May 2010 as South Africa’s most exquisite multi-functional cultural centre and up-market venue; complete with modern art gallery, Africanova boutique and an Italian café.
Saturday, June 5, 2010
How to Kick Back in the World Cup Cities is a feature Time Magazine is currently running. They asked for suggestions from "prominent South Africans" and somehow I qualified.
Here's my text. Go to the site to see what the other people suggested one does in Cape Town, Durban, and Joburg when the games are not on.
A brisk walk through the Wilds, one of our oldest parks, would be followed by quiche, cappuccino and the Mail & Guardian at the Service Station café, tel: (27-11) 726 1701, in Melville. After perusing the galleries on Jan Smuts Avenue, I'd head to my studio in Fordsburg for some painting and eat lunch at Shayona, tel: (27-11) 837 2407 — the best vegetarian Indian food in town. I'd work for a few more hours, then call up some friends and go for calamari and prawns at the Troyeville Hotel, tel: (27-11) 402 7709, my scruffy, friendly local, specializing in Mozambican cuisine (there are always takers for this outing). Last, I'd take the M2 highway — the scenic route — circling the city with its lit-up skyscrapers and mine dumps back home to my apartment in Killarney.
Tuesday, May 18, 2010
Wednesday, April 28, 2010
Monday, April 26, 2010
Plugging away, still on stage three, in which the buildings in the foreground come to life one by one. Next I'll work on the sky.
Saturday, April 24, 2010
Thursday, April 22, 2010
The showing was held atop the arts building in Braamfontein, the one shaped like a flying saucer. There was a great turnout, and I loved the film. The team (it's produced by Curious Pictures) put together a wonderful combination of images and sound in this first episode, on the Karoo. They used paintings by my old colleague Ben Coutavidis, as well, which evoked the landscape beautifully.
I enjoyed meeting Johnny Clegg and didn't hesitate to ask him, based on the inspiration of the programme we'd just seen, "What work are you doing to take this country forward?" He responded positively to my question, as did Ivan Vladislavic who was attending. I was fired up by the film and ready to commit to making South Africa what it can be.
Wednesday, April 21, 2010
This is a commission for an executive who is moving to New York and will miss his Joburg.
I took the shot from the Carlton Centre, our tallest building (usually cited as the tallest building in Africa). In the far distance, on the horizon, you can see the Brixton Tower.
Saturday, April 10, 2010
Now she has been tasked to transform The Joburg Book into a handy guide for visitors. She tells me it's nearly finished.
In turn, she asked me to provide an image for the new guidebook. I sent her one painting, and we'll see what happens next.
Tuesday, March 30, 2010
Saturday, March 27, 2010
This is my dog, Ned. He has starred in many previous artworks, mostly paintings. Now he has been immortalized in metal. I took a drawing of Ned and had it made up in laser-cut metal as a commission for a veterinarian's office. This is a miniature version of the one the vet used.
Thursday, March 18, 2010
Wednesday, March 17, 2010
Friday, February 19, 2010
Monday, February 15, 2010
Thursday, February 11, 2010
Tuesday, February 9, 2010
Monday, February 8, 2010
I was featured in an article in the most recent Dekat magazine. While the reporters interviewed me, I took them up onto the mine dumps and helped them choose vantage points from which to take photographs. They also published a number of my paintings from the mine series.
Here is an excerpt from the article, and you can read the full text after the jump:
“Without the gold mines Johannesburg would not have
been here, and the mine dumps are what’s left of that
era,” says Hermann. “That’s why the mine dumps are so
specifically ‘Johannesburg’: they are handmade and iconic
and they represent the reasons why we’re here.”
For the past 10 years, Hermann has been portraying
Johannesburg’s growth, decline and flow in his paintings
– from lights flashing past on the highway to picture-perfect
panoramas at sunset. His latest exhibition titled Mine is a
documentary of the mine dumps, from Randfontein on the
West Rand to Boksburg on the East Rand. In the middle
is the Top Star drive-in, also portrayed in Hermann’s
paintings, and so we set out to visit this legend out there on
the Johannesburg horizon.
The well-known, sky-high Ster-Kinekor screen still sits on
top of the mine dump next to Simmonds Street South, while
Johannesburg in all its glory buzzes in the background. “To
open a drive-in here was an absolute stroke of genius,”
Hermann tells us, squinting slightly against the bright sunlight.
Friday, February 5, 2010
This is the piece I contributed to the 'on the rhodes' show opening tonight at These Four Walls fine art gallery in Observatory, Cape Town.
I painted it in homage to Edward Hopper's 1946 work Approaching a City:
Thursday, February 4, 2010
From the gallery's website:
on the rhodes05 Feb 10 - 27 Feb 10
Some two decades on, this exhibition gathers together a generation of artists schooled in the Department of Fine Art at Grahamstown's Rhode's University in the late 1980's and early 1990's. From that common ground in the small frontier city at the end of apartheid have led various roads followed by these diverse artists, some very well known, others less so.
'on the rhodes' provides an opportunity for reflection and retrospect, a celebration of shared skills and outlooks, but most of all it suggests the exciting destinations still promised by those early trajectories. It is a timely show and ironically fitting that these once-Grahamstown artists now living all over the world should reconvene momentarily in Cape Town.
Artists exhibiting are Cathy Layzell, Anthony Strack, Benjamin Coutouvidis, Hermann Niebuhr, Diana Page, Jane Henderson, Jeremy Franklin, Larissa Hollis, Bretan Ann Moolman, Cindy Britz, Mary Visser, Janet Anderson, Tom Gubb, Ian Garrett, Carl Becker, Kerri Evans, Richard Mather- Pike, Carl Schonland, John Hodgkiss, Mary Slater.
169 Lower Main Rd
tel: +27 (0)21 447 7393
cell: +27 (0)79 302 8073
Tuesday, February 2, 2010
Thursday, January 28, 2010
I was interviewed on 1 December 2009 by Flo Bird, whose programme Heritage Today runs on the station Radio Today. Here is the transcript:
Flo: Now today I'm speaking to someone who has great and colourful meaning for us all, for all Joburg people, and that's Hermann Niebuhr, who has just opened an exhibition at the Anglo Gold Ashanti Gallery in Turbine Hall. It's called "mine." It has a double meaning, but it's about the mine dumps. Welcome!
Hermann: Good morning! Thank you, Flo, and good morning to all your listeners. It's a great pleasure to be here. Just as you were talking about the Rissik Street Post Office [in the previous segment, about the historic building that burned down in the city centre and whether it would be restored or not], I sort of took my cue with the work I do, which is documenting Johannesburg, I took my cue from a line, and I can't remember exactly where it comes from, that "Johannesburg is a city that doesn't remember itself."
And it sort of struck me, like, "What's going on here?" that there's no books on Joburg, you know, you go to Cape Town and there are a gajillion coffee table books available in every bookstore.
Until Nechama [Brodie]'s The Joburg Book came along, there was to me a real lack of memorialising the city, celebrating the city, and documenting the city, in fact. I know there were people doing stuff, there was stuff going on, but generally in the mainstream there just seemed to me to be a lack of it, and I was struck by that, you know -- the greatest city in Africa, effectively. And we're not remembering it.
The work you're doing, and the work The Joburg Book is doing, and hopefully some of the work I'm doing and other people are doing is to elevate the city. I mean, we're going to have several visitors here next year [for the 2010 World Cup]...
Flo: We do hope for a little more than that!
Hermann: Exactly! And we've got a great city here. Anyway, so my journey of documenting the city, of looking at it -- this is the third part of an exhibition trilogy of work I've done around Joburg, this one being the mine dumps.
Wednesday, January 27, 2010
Fred de Vries is a well-known journalist who lives in Johannesburg. He writes for South African and Dutch publications.
This interview comes from his book The Fred de Vries Interviews: From Abdullah to Zille (2008, Wits University Press), a collection of 39 interviews with South African artists, writers, musicians, and thinkers.
Fordsburg, Johannesburg, April 2007
Neon lights, dodgy characters, gunshots, the smell of junk food, traces of piss and vomit. Hillbrow doesn't seem the most alluring part of town to explore at night. And certainly not the place to get out of your car and take photographs of lobbies of dilapidated apartment buildings. But that's exactly what Joburg artist Hermann Niebuhr has been doing for the last two months. Those lobbies, devoid of physical human presence, form the basis of a new set of paintings.
"There are parts of Hillbrow where you keep the camera down, because they shoot back, ha ha," says Niebuhr in his studio in Fordsburg. On a more serious note he adds, "When I first started driving around Hillbrow, it was like yeeakgrrrrrr. Then, phase two, I stopped the car and took a picture. By phase ten you get out of the car and you're fine. And you realise you're unpacking a whole lot of your own crap. I'm not saying: wear a Rolex and walk around Hillbrow. Don't be stupid. But you can get out of your car. Nothing has ever happened to me. I walk into those lobbies and say: 'Hi, I'm here to take pictures.' Sometimes they chase me away, sometimes they say it's fine."
Niebuhr's latest project is the logical follow-up to his 2005 exhibition Night Ride Home, which encapsulated the nightly journeys from his studio to his house in Kensignton. It resulted in a beautiful, almost dreamlike overview at the Absa Gallery, full of blurred visions and shattered lights, a kind of Edward Hopper for the twenty-first century.
The new paintings seem to go even deeper. "As your language develops, you're able to describe more authentically the things that you can see," says Niebuhr. "That's what I'm doing now. I go into the buildings. And once you're inside them, they still carry the knowledge from when you first saw them and thought: oh my God."
Both projects form part of his exploration of the state of the city. They lead us to pertinent questions about our aims, ideals and sense of belonging. Is Joburg a failed project or a success? Why are we so scared? Is this fear justified?
Sunday, January 24, 2010
I was looking through art books I had picked up at second hand shops, and it occurred to me to focus on the hands from classical works. I selected 25 of the most beautiful hands from Titian and other masters, and painted them onto one canvas.
Saturday, January 23, 2010
This painting from my recent exhibition mine is called "Corot's mine."
Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot was a French landscape painter (1796-1875). He is the leading figure of the Barbizon School of painting and became as well known for his portrayals of human figures as for his plein-air (working outside the studio) landscape paintings.
The woman in my painting is a direct reference to Corot's reclining nude, but I have placed her in front of a Johannesburg mine dump. The dark brown "roots" of paint trickle from the landscape over the human figure.
"Corot's mine" is both homage to this master and a merging of the current-day man-made, toxic scenery with the tradition of 19th century landscape painting.
Tuesday, January 19, 2010
The programme is run by the Foundation Armando Alvares Penteado, or FAAP. It's attached to a university with an art department, and I'll be giving lectures as well as having dedicated studio time in a beautiful 1920s building in the center of the megalopolis.