At the Oliewenhuis there’s a massive Pierneef painting of Rustenburg Kloof. It is bigger than the Station Panels, and going by the technique, probably precedes them. An elaborate gold frame with an undated plaque on it tells us this was a commission from the City of Bloemfontein.
This rendering of the Kloof is very close to the Station Panel version (see “Rustig in Rustenburg” and “A backward glance.”) It is less simplified than the Panels. It may have been done in the studio from the same sketch. Pierneef did many versions of Rustenburg Kloof, and some are clearly plein air works. There’s the famous pic of young Pierneef in his grass- walled atelier; on the easel is a painting of Rustenburg Kloof and leaning against the rail a shotgun: more Hemingway than Monet. ( You couldn’t just nip up the road to MacDonalds back then). There were also daring (for their time) versions of the Kloof done in his experimental phase after his 1925 visit to Europe. This one is at the La Motte estate in Franschoek
Last November Hermann Niebuhr and I paid the Kloof a visit; my fourth. Having worked our way through the traffic snarl ups and stocked with boerewors, we booked into one of the chalets there. The resort is well looked after. There was a constant hum of lawn mowers. Next door to us were two contract workers, their eyes glued to DSTV. The previously tatty chalets at the end have been recolonised by the Volk. We took a stroll up the Kloof, still waiting for the first summer rains. We found two dassies engaged in a bloody fight for supremacy. Oblivious to our presence, the two flailed about in the stagnant rockpools. A little metaphor for the gruesome scenes playing out at nearby Marikana.
In Pierneef’s Kloof, you can discern a stream in the left front, around where the darker toned foreground ends.That stream was there on my last visit, but someone has decided to make a water feature of it. Now the area around the central tree in Pierneef’s work is a dam. (Damn!) I can’t tell if it’s an improvement or just another case of bulldozing our history away. Next morning I was up at dawn and with the No 8 Sable brush in hand I finally saw the first light hitting that big rock face. I could hear the sounds of early morning traffic as booming Rustenburg creeps toward the Kloof. Wonder how long it’ll be before Mac Donalds does build a drive thru here?