By Edward Tsumele, CITYLIFE/ARTS Editor
Each speaker mainly young artists stood up and praised him for his big heart, living a life like a rock star, as If tomorrow was never coming. But more importantly he was praised for speaking his mind, unafraid to touch people in a wrong way.
And perhaps to underpin was a friend, brother and legend to the people of Maboneng, this memorial service for the late artist Johan which was held at Curiocity Back Packers was the fourth since he passed on tragically on May 27, 2022. Crushed by a track at the border of South Africa and Eswatini, when he reportedly fell onto the road, Johan Noergen Nissen was originally from Denmark, but had since Johannesburg his home, the artist had gone to Swaziland with a group of friends who had intended to attend the famous Bush Fire Festival in Eswatini.
Instead that was not to happen as instead of having fun, which Johann was especially known for around Maboneng and beyond, tragedy struck, was that fateful accident happened. The friends had to come back without Johan and in great grief. And to make it worse the artist had no relatives in South Africa, and his only relative in Denmark a niece and a cousin had a difficult relationship with the artists and were reportedly not talking to each other, but at least they gave Jaco Delport, one of Johan’s best friends a go ahead with funeral arrangements.
And to tell the truth, Jaco and this group of friends had become Johan’s family in South Africa and hence a series of memorial services that are being held in Maboneng and as far as Soweto. The one held as Curiocity, was according to Jaco to give his friends who may have missed the other memorial services an opportunity to properly say bye to the beloved artist.
“We wanted people to feel Johan’s presence and hence we brought his ashes here. Johan had touched many people in South Africa and we were like his family here. We therefore felt that let us do this to honour him since we are the family he had here,” Jaco told CITYLIFE/AETS in an interview. He was one of the instrumental people who played an important role to make sure that the legend of Maboneng had a decent sent of thousands of miles from his Copen Hagen where he was born 65 years ago.
Johan was still a practising artists with a huge number of international collectors for his art, especially in his home country as he continued to sell his works online from his South African base. He ran his studio from Selby, South of Johannesburg after moving from Troyville last year.