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Dirk Adriaan Meerkotter (9th of February 1922) was born in Pietersburg (Polokwane) in the Limpopo Province. When he was two years old his family moved to Ermelo and three years later to Johannesburg. Both his parents were musicians. His mother, a South African from British decent, met his father in Amsterdam, where they studied music. In 1911, soon after their studies, the young Dutch musician decided to follow his heart and emigrated to South Africa where he got married to his former fellow student, Caroline Ackland. Although the artist’s father was a great pianist and organist, he often had to move from one town to another in the early 1900s to find work as a church organist and music teacher, to support his family.
One of the most important things that Dirk Meerkotter realised about his occupation as a pharmacist, was that it would give him the necessary space to develop his visual ideas independently of the necessity to satisfy popular tastes in order to sell one’s work for a living.
Before Dirk Meerkotter was thirty he had his first solo exhibition at the Constantia Gallery in Johannesburg in 1950. His extraordinary talents were immediately recognised by fellow artists and art critics and the exhibition became the first of eighty-seven solo exhibitions of which the latest, highly successful two, were held in Pretoria in 2005 and Stellenbosch in 2009.
Over the years, the connection between Dirk’s brilliant and unique improvisations on the piano and the forms, colours and shapes in his studio, became increasingly obvious to his family and many of his friends. My brothers, sister and I often recall the many nights that we fell asleep accompanied by the sound coming from his piano in the lounge. And, to this day, he still finds it difficult to walk past a keyboard without playing a few lines, to say the least. The combination of the talents inherited from his parents, and his life and work as a contemporary South African visual artist, remains fascinating to the many who continue to enjoy their engagement with his ideas on canvas, in clay, and on paper.