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Van der Westhuizen Pieter

Van der Westhuizen Pieter

Born 1931 - 2008 - GautengAbout the Artist

Pieter van der Westhuizen was born in Pretoria, South Africa, in 1931 - the period between the great drought, the great depression and the Second World War. His mother passed away when he was three, his father left soon thereafter, and he was left in the care of his maternal grandmother. His grandmother was a real battle-axe and the archetype of the poor white Afrikaner of the time, but raised him with all the love she was capable of within the confines of her poverty stricken, illiterate existence.

At the age of about four this budding South African artist decided that this world was not for him and started creating a different world in pictures. His passion for art grew with age, and once he had graduated from high school Pieter studied Art at UNISA under Sakkie Eloff, Leo Theron and Robert Hodgins.  

In 1960 this South African artist worked under Alfred Krentz, and in 1971 under Erik Laubscher.  During 1979-80 he attended the Nationale Hoger Institute voor Schone Kunst at the Royal Academy for Fine Arts in Belgium.  In 1982 and 1985 he continued his studies at the Stedelijke Akademie in Ghent and the Ryks Centrum voor Grafiek in Kasterlee, Belgium.  During 1983 and 1985 he studied wood-block printing in Japan.

Pieter van der Westhuizen passed away on the 30th of December 2008, aged 77. Pieter is widely regarded as one of South Africa’s most popular artists.

Style & Format

Pieter Van Der Westhuizen painted whatever triggered his imagination. The things he painted in his South African graphic art included the chickens and birds in his garden, the flowers and chairs and tables in his house and the people who surrounded him.

In his own words: “I paint whatever triggers my imagination. The things I paint are the chickens and birds in my garden. The things I paint are the flowers and chairs and tables in my house. The things I paint are the people around me wherever I may be. If they seem to be mostly women and mostly beautiful women, it is because that is the way I see them mostly women, mostly beautiful. In every woman, I see a woman I know. In every woman I know there is a woman I see. I paint these things because I see them. I see them because they are there. After the end of my time, I shall see them no more. But they will still be there and my having painted them will be the proof that I was there. To die but not to perish is to be eternally present. I believe that people all over the world relate to my work because they are able to associate and recognize the sense perceptions reflected in them.”

His work comprises mainly landscapes portraits, still life, figures and abstract pictures and he works in pastel, oil, watercolour, ink, pencil, charcoal and in various graphic media.


Pieter van der Westhuizen had many one-man and group exhibitions, and in 1988 and 1989 exhibited with Marc Chagall, Yaacov Agam and Ben Avram, inter alia, in Madrid, Spain. His last exhibitions - on the occasion of his 65th birthday - were the biggest and most successful ever held in South Africa.