JJ Clark was born and raised in Welkom, Freestate, South Africa in 1968. He completed a BSc (Hons) Mathematical Statistics degree at UFS. During a 20 year career in IT he honed his artistic skills part-time by doing studies at Open Window School of Art and completed a BA Fine Arts Multimedia degree at UNISA.
A few years ago he left the corporate world to settle on a cattle farm in the Waterberg area in Limpopo province. This gave the opportunity to, on a semi-permanent basis, pursue a career in art. His aim is to create art in nature that is inspired by nature. Organic shapes, textures, colours and patterns found in nature as well as the effect that light, shadow and reflection give, excite and inspire him, and through his art he tries to capture the essence of these elements.
He came from Him-who-owns-the-stars, Father-of-beauty,
He was born with the star of the morning, when the red light of dawn appeared,
He stretched himself to his full height,
This wonderful bovine.
(Kunene 1971, 139, QUOTING MACHABANE 1947,66)
The symbiotic relationship between man and beast should be intimate, affectionate and reverent, but man’s need for cheap meat reduces these creatures to be exploited as commercial commodities through industrial factory farming methods.
Working with and learning about Nguni cattle inspires my current theme of portraying these animals. I do this in a portrait style, which is a resentation in which a face and its expression is predominant. The intent is to display the likeness, personality, and even the mood.
Similar to how important, powerful and affluent, opulently attired figures were portrayed during the Renaissance, Baroque and Rococo periods, I try to portray these animals in this fashion with soul, dignity and respect, to acknowledge their spiritual grace and aesthetic significance.