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Create an art-filled life

It’s no surprise that Mariaan Kotzé chose to be an artist considering that her parents, as well as her siblings, are involved in some or other artistic pursuit. Here this Bloem artist and her mother, Joe Kotzé, talk about living a life of creativity…

Mariaan paints a vivid picture of her and her four siblings playing around their father’s feet while he created art. Joe adds, “I often found the five little Kotzés in Kobus’s studio, perfectly content to be part of his art-making”.

For Mariaan, the hours she spent in her father’s art studio opened her mind to a world of paint, paintbrushes, and being creative. Her earliest memories include “the smell of paint, little floral arrangements made by my mother, which brought little splashes of colour to every room of our house, and books”.

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The mother and daughter agree that there is something very special about being part of a long line of artists. “We understand and inspire one another, we speak the same language and we connect without using words,” explains Mariaan.

Although Joe only started painting in 1997, at the age of 50, she nurtured a love for art in her children. Mariaan says it did however not take her mother long “to paint her way open in the art world”. Joe’s mother, Fida du Plooy, was a watercolourist, her aunt, Laurika Postma, was one of the artists who worked on the frieze for the Voortrekker Monument in Pretoria, and her sister, Hester Hattingh, is a landscape artist.

While discussing her creative roots, Mariaan makes no secret of how much she admires her parents. “It’s because of them that I’m able to figure out this crazy, not so easy ride, which is life. Their example taught me to be strong and to persevere. They set the example for me of dedicated hard work.” Jo adds with a wry smile that although her husband turns 83 in July, there is no stopping him. In justifiably proud mom style, Joe also speaks about her other children.

“Hanlie started writing poetry at school. She also loves using symbolism in all her paintings.” Mariaan speaks of her “soul sister”, whom she considers “the real artist in the family; she is also a bird-lady, always surrounded by birds, like my dad, feeding them and attracting them.” Her brother Jaco, the only one in the family who is not a full-time artist, is an electrical engineer, but he creates furniture and functional art objects in his spare time.

Mariaan’s other brother, Floris, who started his career as a police officer, joined the family business, starting Kotzé Art Gallery with his wife Anine to market his father’s art. The art gallery in Dan Pienaar Drive has since become the destination for those looking for artworks to adorn their walls or for investment art created by some of South Africa’s most sought after artists.

When one asks Mariaan what brought her back to Bloemfontein after living in various towns across the country, she says, “It just happened naturally. I was visiting my family in Bloemfontein last year and it was suggested that I come and live on our smallholding in Kwaggafontein. I moved here last November and I’m so content. Until two years ago, I didn’t really have time to focus on myself. It was a survival game, as I’m a single mother to three daughters. But now I’m in a new town, it’s a new year, and I believe there’s a new story to be told.”

What is obvious from speaking to this artist mother and daughter is that they not only share a dry sense of humour, they also respect one another’s individuality. According to Mariaan, “One thing about my mother… she doesn’t interfere.” Joe responds, “That’s true. I might say something… and then I let it be,” to which Mariaan replies, “My mother is a beautiful example of quiet acceptance.” Jo ends off by uttering that oft-repeated mom mantra, “Your dad and I always prayed for you children… a lot!”


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