NIËL JONKER

A graduate of Technikon Natal in 1993 with distinctions in painting and sculpture, Jonker was thrust into the business world in response to becoming a young father. A decade later, having returned to being a full-time artist, he has focused on his life- long passion of drawing people that has resulted the study of realism through portraiture. His impasto oil paintings of Alzheimer's sufferers and a father-in law recovering from a stroke are powerful reflections on the simultaneous grandeur and frailty of life.

Jonker has placed himself in the position of completing a body of work prior to committing to an exhibition date, providing the gallerist with a thorough preview of the work under consideration. The artist invites interested galleries, collectors and dealers to engage with him directly regarding current and forthcoming series of work. The Flower Valley Children is one such series, framed and ready for exposure. Moving from his native Klein Karoo to the Southern Overberg, Jonker discovered the overlooked landmass south of Cape Town teeming with the rural history of a forgotten Cape landscape. By engaging with his neighboring farm community, the artist has delivered a series of portrait studies of the children, all of whom are intimately known to him.

The Flower Valley community receives intensive social development attention from its NGO management which is a radical departure from the traditional model before 1994 when it was under typical private ownership as Blomkloof. The farm’s original and ominous title of Kaffirskraal has been discarded earlier. Jonker has been touched by these children’s tenacity as they grow up with a healthy disregard for the adults about them that try to model them into shape. The artist’s rendition is a further exploitation of, and imposition on, each individual.By making these paintings, Jonker draws attention to a detail of rural life. Plattelanders remain an often-disregarded staple of the country’s social fabric, too easily ignored by the urban minority that reign over popular media. With popular media dominating consciousness through superficiality, it becomes the role of the artist to provide a more penetrating document of the human condition.

“It is a privilege to have someone reveal themselves to you and allow you to render a lasting interpretation of their experiences for display to others. Each of these kids aregoing through various and conflicting experiences that I have hoped to capture – from vulnerability to anger; rediscovery from loss; or just the simple beauty of blossoming femininity.”