Painters 2013

Piet Groenendijk

The 2013 Lamu Painters Festival brings Piet Groenendijk to Lamu for the third time. He was in Lamu for the 2011 Festival and returned in 2012 to paint and exhibit in a group show in Shela. He describes Lamu as a place that has “everything you don’t expect”. One big surprise for him is the warmth of the people towards strangers like himself and the fact that “people are joyful and they greet each other in the streets,” he says, reflecting on the contrast between his home in Amsterdam and Lamu. He was also taken aback at the festive reception the artists received when they visited the small village of Matondoni, located on the western shores of the island. “The welcome they gave us was unexpected,” he recounts, describing the dancing and singing party that greeted them on the shores. “It was really a nice atmosphere—all because of the people of Matondoni,” says Piet. “Otherwise the place is just grey and dusty.”

www.pietgroenendijk.com

“I find it interesting to paint touristic things,” he tells me. It was not what I expected to hear but then I realized he meant things that interest tourists. That makes sense. He liked the market, the dhows, the architecture and the cultural activities involving people. He was in his element at the Lamu market with its hustle and bustle of people. Standing at his easel before the doors of the market, Piet’s figure is at once recognizable with his trademark brown-checked fedora atop his head. He works calmly, concentrating on his painting and unruffled by people who stop and stare at his work. His painting captures the quieter moment of mid-day when most shoppers have come and gone. There are only a few stragglers about and the market people are hoping to make a sale before the morning ends. The heat is intense and the white plaster façade of the walls accentuate the light while election posters punctuate their surface. Piet’s brush strokes are brief, economized like shorthand writing. They capture vividly the mid-day moment at the market.

Piet Groenendijk was born in 1949 in the Netherlands. He studied medicine and worked as a general practioner for many years. He began painting as a hobby in 1984 and later returned to school to study fine arts. Piet now dedicates half of his time to his painting career and the other half as a doctor in Amsterdam.