Gregoire Boonzaier: Still life with pipe - SOLD
Gregoire Boonzaier (1909 – 2005)
Still life with pipe - 1981
Oil on board
50 x 42,5 cm
Signed and dated top left
Sold - 2011
Martin Bekker describes Gregoire Boonzaier’s work as poetic realism, but it never descends to a sheer copying of nature. He is too honest and imaginative for that. Each stroke of the brush confirms his unique technique. This also leads him to reduce things to their simplest terms in order to reflect only that which is essential to his vision as an artist and is often seen in playful line or captivating colour . Describing Gregoire’s style, he notes that the typical Gregoire is a unique synthesis of the atmosphere of the Hague school, of emotional content and use of form and colour of the Post- Impressionist masters, and of Gregoire’s own distinctive philosophy of aesthetic simplicity and poetic line and colour.
Not only does he seek what satisfies his artist eye, but he also loves people for what they are: ordinary, earthly beings. It is natural that such people would feature in his paintings. Ordinary people, captured in their daily settings, were an important part of Gregoire’s oeuvre, and in ‘Druiwepakkers’, he gives the grape-packing labourers an importance usually only reserved for their masters. Bekker describes the technique used in this painting as á la prima. This means launching bold, thick strokes of paint directly onto the clean canvas . This bold, abstracted work is proof of Gregoire’s ability and skill as composer and colourist, and one cannot resist contemplating the possibilities, had he been brave enough to explore this flirtation with abstraction further in the following decades of his long career.
Gregoire’s still life studies are notably the most experimental of his oeuvre, sometimes completely breaking away from his usual more formal interpretation, towards abstracted studies where colour and form take preference. The simplification of these compositions was inspired by his love of Japanese woodcut prints which were some of the most cherished works in his art collection. The bold use of complimentary and contrasting colours in ‘Still life with pipe’ confirms Gregoire’s reputation as one of South African art’s greatest early colourists. On closer inspection, one is struck by the masterfully-balanced palette, saturation of colour and almost playful filling in of planes, all contained by Gregoire’s typical black outlines.
Martin Bekker, Gregoire Boonzaier , Cape Town, 1990, pp 35, 50, 79, 82