Stops, starts, twists, turns: Anthony de Klerk, Fine Artist, story to date.
In retrospect, it seems to me that my journey as a fine artist has been defined by a stop, a start, a twist and, recently, a turn.
As a young adult, I was initially inspired to become an artist when I studied Graphic Design at Wits Technikon. My influences were my lecturers – great up-and-coming young artists of the day like Willem Boshoff, who taught me to think conceptually, Mark Enslin, who awakened a love for painting, and Ryno Swart, who showed me the seduction of life drawing.
Then followed the “stop”; a hiatus of sorts. Although I never gave up painting, my energy was, for the next 30 years, mostly consumed by a demanding advertising career. Despite it being a successful and award-winning career during which I produced much loved and well-known work for famous brands, I still felt unfulfilled creatively and constantly yearned to return to my original passion: to be a painter.
The “start” of my artistic career therefore overlapped with the end of my advertising one. I began to commit more energy and intent to being a painter. I picked up brushes again, slowly but surely becoming more impassioned and prolific.
In the “twist” a few years later, I unexpectedly and serendipitously found myself back in touch with my old lecturer, Ryno Swart, who was by then a well-established impressionist artist and teacher. I studied with him again for three years until I felt I had become an accomplished modern impressionist. It was around this time that I joined Bright Day Studios (founded, in another twist, by an old advertising competitor turned compatriot), which I now run with a business partner and from where I paint, exhibit and teach.
The “turn” was a process, a kind of series of life events, the first of which was a realisation that I wanted and needed to unlearn the recognisable impressionist style that I was working in. I felt an intuitive urge to develop a more contemporary and uniquely expressive style that I would identify with and that would identify me – though I had no idea what that style would be.
My search found real answers in 2017 on a trip to Greece, during which I visited several highly inspiring galleries. It was on the aeroplane on my way home, however, that I had the strong sense that my life was about to change.