The Artist Who Lives Off His Work

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By Frederick Philander WINDHOEK HE has been painting and visually decorating home walls and any other form of mural artistic expression in the capital for the past 40 years as a commercial artist very much in demand. Talk to mural and canvas painter, Oom Andries Cloete, and he boils over in exciting laughter about his creative abilities and prowess. “I have always been interested in painting and fascinated by drawings, painting or any other form of artistic expression since my school days at Emma Greeff Primary in Khomasdal. Right after school I went into my trade that would last until today,” said the 64-year-old bachelor when interviewed on one of the many sites he presently works at. His permanent paintings can be seen on walls at selected homes, around swimming pools, at church pre-primary schools as well as on business signboards all around the capital. “I started off reproducing and imitating existing works of local and foreign artists such as cartoonists and painters. Then I started painting from memory and my own imagination as a self-taught artist that never attended any formal lessons in art or painting,” he said. Cloete’s forte is mural painting, offering many job opportunities in and around Windhoek for the past 40 years. “I am seldom out of work because my paintings are very much in demand among the Namibian middle class, spread around by word of mouth. People contact me all the time with job offers. Customers usually provide the materials and paints and I do the job to the best of my creative ability,” the old man said humbly, when interviewed in the hot midday sun on a site. Andries Cloete has now waged into oil paintings, very much in demand among art lovers. “The late musician, Wiks Louw, actually inspired and encouraged me to experiment with canvas painting. I tried a few times and eventually I mastered the art in painting landscapes, religious paintings and animals. I hope to one day have my own solo exhibition if my work is found to be worthy of being publicly displayed,” the artist, preferring to work on a commission basis, said.