Local artist shares his love with the youth

2016-04-19 06:00
Robert Daniels says art is his life, working in his studio alone gives him so much joy. PHOTO: TIYESE JERANJI

Robert Daniels says art is his life, working in his studio alone gives him so much joy. PHOTO: TIYESE JERANJI

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Taking from his role model Pablo Picasso, Robin Daniels (48) from Retreat says art is his respiration; without it he can’t breathe.

The father of two has turned his garage into what he calls his area of play and work. He does different paintings inspired by friends, people he meets and family.

He specialises in oil-based paintings and lino cuts. Daniels is a self-taught artist and is very grateful to have come across print-making greats like Patrick and Sydney Holo, as well as the late Kweti Nzube, who taught him the ropes and how he could make a living out of it.

Even more so they taught him how to make his work beautiful and balance all the colours perfectly for a nice picture. He also spent some time with Billy Mandini.

His first break into the industry was when one of his sculptures was selected for the “Made in Wood” exhibition at the South African Gallery in 1992. In 2003 he was invited to exhibit jazz-themed lino cuts at the North Sea Jazz festival and since then he has never looked back.

He started painting at a very young age and has exhibited works in various galleries in Cape Town. Some of these include Leonardo Da Vinci, Infant Art, Artvark and State of the Art, to mention just a few.

Though art has always has been a passion of his, he had to make a strong decision to do it full-time. “Back then our parents didn’t see art as something that you could make a living out of. They told me to get a job. This was what I really wanted to do, but I had to go work.”

Daniels worked at a factory as a fork-lift operator. He mostly worked night shift so that during the day he could have time to do his art – even if it was just for a few hours.

He didn’t stay there for long as he found it very boring, and became a textile designer. But that was not his thing either and he decided to call it quits to focus on visual arts.

“This is my life. Everything else didn’t complete me. I felt empty. When I focus on my painting I’m very happy. I enjoy what I do. I do things at my own pace and I believe in giving people quality work. I take my time and each time I sit in my studio to work I can’t put the feeling into words. I really love what I do,” he says.

Despite being an established artist, he says he still faces some challenges with marketing and getting his work out there.

“Marketing is a challenge. Most artists work from home and no-one really knows about them. Yes, my work can be found in galleries, but I want to reach a lot of people. Despite that, I keep doing what I love. I know one day I will get a break.”

On Thursdays he looks forward to teaching art to children.

“I love introducing art to children. So I teach kids at a nearby school. That is one of the things that keeps me going – knowing that I’m sharing my knowledge with children. It makes me happy. It’s very easy for me to do it because I love what I do. I strongly fee that art has its place in alleviating some of the social ills affecting the youth in disadvantaged communities that’s why I take time to introduce art to children.”

His wish is to exhibit his work in galleries in New York.

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