Cape Town - Pieter van der Westhuizen was one of South Africa’s most respected artists and was a resident of Philadelphia for 24 years.

When visiting him, you would have never thought that he was this versatile artist that produced such a variety of art work.

Van der Westhuizen was born between the great drought, the depression and the Second World War. His family was very poor. At young age he decided that this life was not for him and he began creating another world for himself in his drawings. Today his paintings creates another world for those who cherish his works of art.

He was always surprised when you complemented him on one of his paintings. If you liked it, he would say, you can have it. Money had no value to him. He said that if he needs something, he wants it and he has the money, he will buy it. If he does not have the money, he does not need it and don’t want it.

When you asked him where does all his inspiration comes from for all these different beautiful art pieces, he would say that if you wait for inspiration before you get up in the morning, you would possible spend a lot more time in bed. It is a process. You put down a colour on the canvas and see how the colour reacts with it. Then another. Van der Westhuizen painted with his senses. Later years he could not see close-up what he was creating. It was only when he stood back he could see and then he was as surprised as the next person.

Van der Westhuizen did not take life for granted. Know life, see it and appreciate it, he would say. For him man is only a speckle in time. His paintings will be proof that he lived. He believed that your future does not start yesterday or in the past, it starts every moment. The secret is to enjoy what you have.

The Lindy van Niekerk Art Gallery in Durbanville is having a Pieter van der Westhuizen exhibition between May 10 and May 19. His documentary “Chickens can Fly” will be shown in a special viewing on May 19 at the gallery at 11.30am. 

Weekend Argus