Born in 1971, Niël Jonker is a sculptor who paints prolifically. From his home studio in Baardskeerdersbos he also facilitates group experiences in creative discovery. 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 Cape, with painting trips to the Karoo and Namibia included.
‘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 experience of being in 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 as the 1.5m bronze Totterman – a sort of totem to masculine playfulness. Pop in for a hug!
Very recent earth/ land meditations have delivered sculpture such as 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 specific sites to enquire further into the nature of relationships with place.
Most of his sculptures are of modest scale to suit the private collector while simultaneously serving as scale models for larger commissions.