Tienie Pritchard South African Sculptor
Tienie Pritchard, certainly one of the most prominent sculptors in South Africa, became renowned for his monumental public commissions, nationally as well as internationally. The nine meter high George Harrison (better known as The Miner) in Settler's Park, Eastgate, Johannesburg is the biggest and one of the best-known bronze monuments in the country. The water nymphs at the Aventura resort in Bela Bela (Warmbaths) stand six meters tall. The wall panel, depicting South Africa's participation in World War Two, in the commemorative museum at Dellville Wood in France, measures an imposing three meters by ten meters. His work is represented in private and public collections all over the Western World. His subject is the human figure, portrayed nude or semi-nude. Although he also sculpts animals, he nowadays prefers to sculpt animals only when he can incorporate them into his compositions with human figures.
Ever since Tienie had discovered clay as his preferred medium, it was his greatest challenge to sculpt the nude human form. It was and still is the basis of his creative motivation. To him the nude is not only a subject of art, but in fact a form of art. The human body is rich in associations and when it is turned into art, it can be made expressive of a very wide range of concepts. He is convinced that he can depict the beauty of the human form in three-dimension only by means of the classic realistic style. To him sculpture is all about form. He studied anatomy by assembling skeletons and familiarizing himself with every muscle in the human body. Different values of light and shade are achieved by varying finishes, textures and patinas in his bronzes.
With his very first public commission in 1972, he followed his heart and sculpted a group of nude figures, representing the human life cycle for the Department of Internal Affairs in Pretoria. It was unheard of and unacceptable for public display during that day and age in South Africa and it catapulted him on a controversial but very successful career. (Read more about this particular work under PUBLIC COMMISSIONS.)
Tienie's earlier nudes were depicted as universal representatives of mankind, and although they were narrative and rich in symbolic associations, they were without any cultural identity. As he progressed in his sculpting ability and creative thinking, he yearned to portray more than human anatomy and emotion. The most important characteristic that sets man apart from beast, is that he has concepts that transcend the basic understanding of the tangible and observed world. From the very beginning of man's memory these concepts, experiences and ideas were full of mystery and awe and it held his dreams, hopes and fears. It laid the foundation for myth and went hand in hand with his spiritual needs.
It was this challenge, to portray man beyond his physical reality, which initiated Tienie's interest in ancient cultures and civilizations and inevitably the various mythologies of these cultures. He portrays the nude within a cultural milieu. He shows how the human mind functions within a given cultural background. He honours and illustrates the human imagination.
In analyzing ancient as well as modern beliefs and mythologies, Tienie came very strongly under the impression of the universal need of man through the ages to ensure the immortality of his soul. This need of man, to conquer mortality, is often an underlying theme in his work. He uses his knowledge of mythology and culture to render his own portrayal of man's spiritual needs.
Studying ancient civilizations and cultures, Tienie became aware of the partnership and mutual dependency between man and beast. In ancient times, all animals had spiritual significance. He incorporates this spiritual kinship between man and animal in his work by either depicting a live animal or by using more symbolical animal images and objects of animal origin, e.g. skulls, tusks, horns.
Tienie is primarily known as a sculptor of the nude, and although he prefers the female form, he also loves sculpting the male nude. His preference for the female nude is based on the fact that the female form is better suited to his smooth polished finishes and subtle modeling technique, as opposed to the over emphasized anatomy that Michael Angelo and many of his followers sculpted. He is also intrigued by the ancient female role of goddess, priestess or sorceress - a phenomenon that vanished in modern times.
Tienie's nudes often depict heroic but controversial historical figures, e.g. Ndlovunkulu (Shaka), Jeanne D'Arc, Cleopatra, Salome; or regality, e.g. Shaka, Cleopatra, The Royal Hunt. But he also portrays mankind when he is vulnerable, e.g. The Marriage Market, The Five Foolish Virgins, Back to the Womb, Forsaken.
Tienie models his sculptures in clay and cast them in plaster of Paris. The plaster cast is worked further to obtain the desired surface for his polished bronzes. Limited editions are then being cast in bronze. Tienie always uses live models, because he believes that working from live models gives soul to a sculpture.
Tienie Pritchard was born in 1938 in the small town of Soekmekaar in the Northern Province. He attended Pietersburg Primary School and matriculated at Pietersburg Hoërskool. After school he started a career as public servant for the Department of Social Welfare, where he worked for 10 years. During all those early years, he spent every spare minute of his time with his first love - sketching and painting.
While being stationed at the remote little settlement of Karatara, he enrolled for a correspondence course in commercial art. It was also during this phase that he discovered clay and very soon realized that he had a very specific preference and aptitude for sculpting. However, he needed guidance to be able to transfer his clay sculptures into a more durable medium. Therefore he applied for a transfer to Pretoria, where he enrolled at the Pretoria Art School at the Pretoria Technikon and attended night classes in sculpture under the tuition of Eugene Bouffa. The knowledge and skill he gained, as well as the ease with which he excelled in his performance at this art school, gave Tienie the confidence to resign his job and to become a full time sculptor.
Although the initial years of his sculpting career brought huge financial challenges, he persevered and within two years he got his first public commission - the Family Group entitled Life Cycle, which evoked enormous controversy and catapulted him on a successful career as professional sculptor of note.
After being a professional sculptor for 38 years, Tienie finds new challenges in his work continuously and his passion and dedication for his art is well known. He lives on a country estate near the Hartebeespoort Dam with his wife Elna and has four grown-up children - three sons and a daughter.
MOST IMPORTANT PUBLIC COMMISSIONS AND HIGHLIGHTS
1970: Life size Steenbok group; SABC building; Pretoria
1972: Life size family group entitled "Life Cycle"; Department of Internal Affairs; Civitas Building, Pretoria (Now at Adlou Art Gallery, Hartebeespoort.)
1972: Panel in relief to depict the Development of the Communication System in RSA, on permanent exhibition in Canada
1974: Solo Exhibition at Lister Art Gallery in Johannesburg
1975: Life size nude figure "Tranquility"; Benoni Plaza, Benoni
1979: Life size mining group "Discovery of Gold"; erected in the arcade next to the Pioneer Building, Polokwane, but removed at a later stage.
1982: 1 ½ x life size nude group "Water nymphs" ;Aventura Resort, Bela Bela
1985: 3m x 10m wall panel depicting SA participation in World War 2; SA Commemorative Museum, Delville Wood, France
1987: 9m high figure "George Harrison" (better known as "The Miner"), Settler's Park, Bedfordview, Johannesburg
1988: Life size Impala group; Reception Complex at Skukuza, Kruger National Park
1996: Life size group of nude and wolves "Fountain of the Wolves"; APBCO Building, Lynnwood, Pretoria
1997 - 2006: Smaller scale sculptures privately commissioned and sponsored.
January 2007: Retrospective exhibition of sculptures that represent a sculpting career spanning a period of 40 years at The Orient Boutique Hotel in Elandsfontein between Pretoria and Hartbeespoort.
February 2009: The Tienie Pritchard Museum on the premises of The Orient Boutique Hotel in Elandsfontein near Pretoria is inaugurated and open to the public.
Numerous busts of historical figures all over the Country, commissioned by Municipalities and State Departments, as well as privately commissioned Portraits.
Only the most important are listed here:
1974: 1½ x life size bust of General Piet Joubert, founder of Pietersburg, Commissioned by the town council of Pietersburg and exhibited in the Polokwane Art Museum.
1976: 1½ x life size busts of two founder members of Johannesburg, Johannes Rissik and Johannes Joubert, commissioned by the Management Committee of Johannesburg and erected in the Council Chamber.
1978: 1½ x life size bust of Bosman, founder of Volkskas Bank, commissioned by Volkskas Bank and erected in the Silverton branch.
1979: 1½ x life size bust of Kallie Den Haas, M.E.C., commissioned by the Executive Council of the Transvaal Provincial Council and erected in the Dawid Brink Centre at the Overvaal Resort at Warmbaths. (Now known as the Aventura Resort at Bela Bela)
1981: 2 x life size bust of Eduard Bok, founder of Boksburg, commissioned by The Boksburg Town Council and erected in the Council Chamber.
1984: 1½ x life size bust of General JBM Hertzog; commissioned by the Department of Public Works and erected in the Press Chamber in the Union Buildings, Pretoria.
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