Impressionism, a 19th-century art movement abandons a traditional linear perspective of idealized forms and perfect symmetry to be replaced with the world as the artist sees it, a montage of different fleeting experiences that can only be represented at the time. The ability to see beyond traditional forms and intuit how light and changing seasons have an impact on a landscape is precisely why Derric van Rensburg is one of South Africa’s top impressionist painters.

Derric has a signature style that is free, yet subtly contained, combining both abstract and realistic elements.

Broad brush strokes and visual intensity, combined with an ingenious impressionist flair, captures the true aesthetic essence of the landscapes that Derric paints. His carefree use of bright primary colours such as blues, oranges, reds and greens portray natural landscapes filled with fauna and flora that are both colourful and alive. Van Rensburg’s favourite subject matter includes vineyards of the Hex River Valley, the Winelands of Stellenbosch, Paarl, Worcester and Robertson.

Derric van Rensburg
An eye on the fields – Derric van Rensburg

Born in 1952 in Cape Town and of modest beginnings, Derric has always been aware of his artistic tendency. It was not, however, always celebrated by his parents. Their only reference to art as a profession was related to old rumours of starving painters.

After attending art school and specialising in graphic art, van Rensburg’s career followed the commercial and manufacturing world of the creative arts, but it did not satisfy him. His wife encouraged him to pursue a career in painting in 1986. Derric’s career truly began to flourish when the couple moved to Greyton in the Overberg in 1990.

An artist’s haven, Greyton is a tranquil little town in the Riviersonderend mountain valley. Derric began to paint the Overberg region using acrylics instead of watercolours. Painting local landscapes of wheat fields and vineyards was the tipping point that opened his art to a much larger audience.

“My style is impressionism and the influence of the Overberg and its patchwork of colours inspired me then, as it still does now. I am forever grateful for the six years spent in that area. Living in the Overberg had a great impact on me and will always be evident in my work,” explains van Rensburg. This is why his Overberg paintings are referred to as his trademark.

Other inspirations that had a major impact on Derric’s aesthetic style were Van Gogh and Rembrandt. “Van Gogh because I enjoyed his life stories and the visual diary he left to the world, and Rembrandt because he was a craftsman and draughtsman of huge proportions,” imparts van Rensburg. South African artists who have left an indelible impression on Derric include Pieter Wenning and Hugo Naude.

Derric van Rensburg
Pride of lions – Derric van Rensburg

Over the years, Derric has exhibited many times in South Africa, Portugal, England, Italy, Australia and Germany. Most of his commissions are placed by multinational corporate clients, which include First National Bank, South African Airways, Transnet, Liberty Life, Price Waterhouse Coopers, Reebok, Ernst & Young, Alexander Forbes, BP and Mobil, as well as a number of South Africa’s best known hotels.Van Rensburg’s work can be found at a number of galleries across the country. He is represented in the Cape by Red The Gallery in Steenberg, Dante Art Gallery in Somerset West, the Lynn Schaefer Gallery in Knysna, Carmel Art Gallery in Greenpoint, as well as the Robertson Gallery. Art lovers from Gauteng can find his work at Alice Art Gallery in Roodepoort, and those further afield can find his work at the Kotze Art Gallery in Bloemfontein.

He expresses the idea that “My art is not only representative of who I am but of all who have been in and out of my life – my parents, siblings, wife, friends, children, grandchildren and even those who challenged me and my art form.” Derric understands that his work transcends his sense of personal identity; it is not only representative of who he is, but of all of his experiences. Just as light and the changing seasons have conceived his landscapes, so too have his experiences and loved ones coloured and shaded his art.

 

Photography Derric van Rensburg

 

Article written by

Justin

Justin Williams is a born-and-bred Capetonian with a flair for writing. His icons include the late South African authors Lawrence Green, Eric Rosenthal and T.V. Bulpin, literary figures who continuously inspire him to cover the avenues of lifestyle, travel and nature in a local context. When he's not covering a story, Justin can be found in the mountains - he's a renowned wild food forager and herbalism student.