A kaleidoscope of colour

2010-01-12 00:00

ARTIST Reggie Gopaul’s home on the heights of Belfort gives a spectacular view across Pietermaritzburg and ­beyond, while providing a haven of peace and quiet.

In the garden Gopaul has his working studio, a corrugated prefab he calls the “hot house”.

“It’s hot inside,” he says, “that’s good for the paint.”

Nearby is another small building, the Mar-Lil Belfort Studio Gallery. “The name comes from my mother and my mother-in-law, Marga and ­Lilly. They are both late [deceased].”

The gallery, crammed with ­Gopaul’s paintings, is a kaleidoscope of colour. “I started five years ago and have painted over 400.”

It all began when Gopaul lost the use of a hand. “I got dystonia — it cramps the muscles — I got it in my right hand and I’m right-handed,” he says. “I can’t write with the hand ­anymore but one day I picked up a paintbrush and it just fitted. Now I can use my right hand, but only for painting.”

A sales representative by day, ­Gopaul pursues his life as an artist in the evenings and over weekends.

“I first did paintings on glass,” he said, then he tried his hand at brass and copper collages. Now he works mainly in oils and acrylics.

The subject matter? “Just what comes to mind.” A framed statement in the gallery outlines his approach: Gopaul believes in surrealist art that is ambiguous and enigmatic and that the viewer must interpret. “It stems from private feelings and states of mind.”

Some themes are repeated and ­several paintings feature a white road.

“It’s from T. S. Eliot,” he explains. In one painting the verse is written out: “Who is the third who walks always beside you?/When I count, there are only you and I together/But when I look ahead up the white road/There is always another one walking beside you ...”

“It’s from The Waste Land,” says Gopaul. “I learnt it at school and it made a huge impression me. It’s about guardian angels.”

Gopaul’s studio, at 113 Ganges Road, is open on Sundays from 9 am to noon as well as by appointment. ­Admission is R5 and includes refreshments. Inquiries: 033 391 0697 or 082 893 3557.

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