Willem was born in Musina, raised in Stella, and graduated from the Pretoria Technikon with a diploma in graphic design. He worked in London for two years, where he met his wife. Back in South Africa he started working as a carpenter, restoring old furniture and only painting in the evenings. Soon this was not enough for Willem who wanted to pursue his passion full time and raise their three small children in a safe environment. They sold everything and moved to Rosendal, a very small town (only 84 inhabitants) ,and upcoming artist community, in the Eastern Free State. It was time to do some slow living and serious painting. In November 2006 they bought one of the oldest houses in town and started renovating. Willems pride and joy is his organic vegetable garden in his own back yard. He has also recently opened his own gallery in the main street where he exhibits his own as well as other fine artists work.
Willem didnt waste any time and in September 2007 he had his first solo exhibition – “Rosendal – Portrait of a dorp”, at the Tina Skukan Gallery in Pretoria. In March 2008 he had his next solo exhibition, this time at the Fresh Paint gallery in Durban. At the moment he also exhibits at various other galleries throughout the country.
He is inspired by the contrasts in the surrounding landscape of the Eastern Free State, from the changing colours of the seasons to the way that the sunlight catches an old sandstone building. He especially enjoys the company of the locals and their unaffected way of living – down to earth and without pretence. A community in the true sense of the word.
His preferred medium is pen and ink, although time consuming he loves its graphic nature. He originally painted with acrylics, but recently started to experiment with oils as it dries more slowly and therefore accommodates his style of painting better, giving him ample time to perfect each detail. His themes are mainly landscapes, local architecture and typical town scenes, as a result he also gets a lot of private commissions to paint old farm houses.
Willem sees his talent as a gift from God and deems it a privilege to be able to practice it full time. In the words of William Blake: “I myself do nothing, the Holy Spirit accomplishes all through me.”
Landscapes viewed through the eyes of an insider, not a tourist or casual passer by, but someone who knows each contour intimately, therefore moving it beyond the point of a mere documentation toward a type of nostalgic realism. In the end its not only about the picture, but about the feeling and untold story that unfolds behind the scenes of each one. The attention to detail, true to life with all its imperfections, simply beautiful.