John Broom - The Accountant who wanted to be an Artist: Part Three

Over the past few days we have been reviewing the sketches and paintings created by South African artist John Broom (1923-2015). If you have missed the first two posts on John please check them out by clicking on:
John Broom - The Accountant who wanted to be an Artist: Part One and
John Broom - The Accountant who wanted to be an Artist: Part Two.

Today we are going to focus on John's figurative and interior works which tie us even closer to the real world and highlight John's growing passion to perfect his artistic skills.

The sketches above were doodled by John on music programs following theatre performances he and Monica attended.

The artist within finds inspiration all around: and that is the theme of today's post.

Monica continues to recount John's story:

As John Broom was approaching retirement, he and his first wife agreed to divorce...

A sign by John Broom (1)

Monica takes up John's story:

As he was now a single man, in Harare, John frequented a very popular Greek Taverna for his dinners. The ambience of the restaurant was warm and exciting. The ceiling was hung with fishing nets and lanterns. People burnt whiskey on the table cloths, and smashed rough pottery dinner plates on the floor, to enhance the feeling of gay abandon in the restaurant. The food was also excellent. John painted a series of four paintings in oils, to reveal the joy of eating there. 1

The first painting, produced in an impressionist style, shows the ambience of the setting inside the taverna where John has used a palette rich in tones of red and orange to convey the atmosphere of warmth.

The Greek Taverna, Harare, Zimbabwe by John Broom (1)

The other three paintings from this setting display taverna dancers alive with movement and rhythm. As with his studies of buildings, the figure studies have the same close focus which immediately draws the viewer in to engage with the scene, to join in the joie de vivre.

Greek taverna solo dancer, Harare, Zimbabwe by John Broom (1)

These are, as Monica has said above, paintings that embrace the lively and joyful atmosphere inside the taverna: the patrons are dancing in the delight of being free and unencumbered perhaps because outside, beyond these four walls, their lives are very different.

Greek taverna pair of dancers, Harare, Zimbabwe by John Broom (1)

There is companionship and harmony inside the taverna - symbolised below by the dancers mirroring each other's movements. The striking and complementary blue of the dancers makes for an eye-catching palette.

Greek taverna mirrored dancers, Harare, Zimbabwe by John Broom (1)

It is really interesting to note that there is a strong similarity between the taverna dancers and John's paintings of flowers and plants which Monica tells us he really enjoyed drawing and painting. Apart from the vibrancy of his palette which is so striking, notice the movement that is present in the composition making the flowers appear as if they are dancing.

And note also the study on the left below which was roughly sketched up in a doctor's waiting room!

A plant study in pastels by John Broom (1)
  1. Thank you to Monica Broom who provided all the images and biographical notes on John Broom used in this post.

A special thank you also to Monica's son in law, Bob Wilkins (Assistant Director, in the film industry) who took the photographs of John's paintings.

We welcome your comments on the art works in this post.