- Category : 1904-births
- Type : MGE
- Profile : 4/6 - Opportunistic / Role Model
- Definition : Single
- Incarnation Cross : RAX The Sleeping Phoenix 3
Dutch painter, art teacher and museum director in Arnhem.
Johan Mekkink was the only son of a poor and hard working cabinetmaker Jannes Mekkink (1876-1958) and Klazina Scholts (1871-1958), a maid. The couple had two daughters, who would become teachers. The father hoped that his son would join him in a firm "Mekkink and Sons", but Johan and his sisters were so affected by the financial problems that were discussed each day, that they choose another career.
Johan was a good drawer and in elementary school he designed furniture that he made himself. He kept his love for wood and later painted preferably on wooden panels. John considered himself always more as a craftsman than as an artist. His father had a great influence on him. After his initial disappointment that his son would not join the firm, he was later proud of him and his two daughters who went their own way. As they bright and talented, they were able to study for school teacher with a scholarship of the state.
Johan studied for school teacher (1924) and art teacher( 1929). In 1929 he also finished the Academy of Fine Arts in Arnhem. He learned painting from G.J. van Lerven and glass painting from J.H.E. Schilling (1893-1942). He painted churches in Velp, Spaarndam, Hillegersberg, Zevenaar, Veenendaal, Zetten and Silvolde.
He became befriended with Dick Ket (1902-1940), who painted his portrait and described him as "En hij is zo sober, zo sober, hij eist niets voor zichzelf. Hij is vegetariër, hij drinkt niet meer dan één glas wijn, bang dat hij zichzelf niet in de hand zou houden. Een perfectionist, in alles, ook als mens, en erg, erg plichtgetrouw.” ("And he's so austere, so sober, he demands nothing for himself. He is a vegetarian, he does not drink more than one glass of wine, afraid he would not hold in the hand itself. A perfectionist in everything, even human, and very, very dutiful.")
During the great depression, Mekkink could not make a decent living of painting and to remain independent, he had to find a job. From 1931 till 1939, he took a teaching job in manual and decorative painting for ten hours per week at the Industrial School in Zutphen.
On July 25, 1945 he married the divorced Wilhelmina Maria Lukasina van den Brink (8 November 1904, Monster - 26 January 1984, Emmen). She brought in two sons. Mekkink tried to life as an independent artist, but he did not succeed.
In 1952 director A.J. de Lorm of the Arnhem Municipal Museum offered him a full-time job as a research assistant. He accepted that role, found satisfaction in the work, but his production as a painter went down. This was bitter, but the the fear of poverty from his youth prevented him to give up this job.
Mekkink was a child of his time. Raised in an environment where working for bread was regarded as the main task, the hope and desire for wealth and luxury came from in last place. But the jobs at the museum gave him the certainty that he could not get as an artist. He became financially independent and could put aside childhood frustration. From 1954 to 1967 Johan Mekkink was the deputy director and from 1967 to 1969 director of the Municipal Museum of Arnhem. He acquired the works of Hermanus Berserik, Co Westerik and Pat Andrea. He was followed up by the more flamboyant journalist Pierre Janssen (1926-2007).
When he retired he could continue his life as an independent artist, but now without money worries. On the day of his retirement he was given the necessary orders for portraits. He travelled with his wife to Italy and Germany to draw and paint. After his wife was killed in 1984 as a result of a traffic accident, many of the last years of John Mekkink were lonely and sad.
Mekkink died in Oosterbeek on 30 October 1991.