New Beginnings: From carguard to artist - Erick Karangwa's tale of inspiration

Photograph: Courtesy Erick Karangwa

Erick David Karangwa was born in Rwanda and fled from his home in 1994 when war broke out. He travelled to Tanzania and from there to Zimbabwe.

While in Zimbabwe he learned to create artworks from a man he befriended. In 2004 he decided to leave Zimbabwe for South Africa.

Erick started working as a car guard in a shopping centre at Constantia.

It was there he saw the work of Andrew Cooper, one of the Cape Town based artist who's art was on display at a gallery in the shopping mall. He became inspired by Cooper's work. he says it had a big influence on his own art.

It became one of my dreams to meet Andrew Cooper and finally the dream came true.

Erick David Karangwa

Since I saw his work I moved from sketching to painting

Erick David Karangwa

Karangwa says after three years, he started seeing some improvements in his work. He took some of his paintings to the gallery and asked the owner's opinion and advice on how to improve.

The first advice I got from the owner really pushed me to work hard on my paintings

Erick David Karangwa

A few years later, Karangwa took some of his paintings to the centre management. They helped him organise an exhibition, and to his delight, he sold all three of his paintings within three days.

He was interviewed by the Constantiaberg newspaper, where he mentioned that he was inspired by the work of Andrew Cooper. Cooper happened to read the article, and curious, went to meet this aspiring artist in person.

Since that first meeting, the two men have struck up a friendship and Cooper has been mentoring Karangwa since 2014, spending weekly sessions with him at the Red Gallery in Tokai, helping him develop his artistic technique.

Contact Erick on his Facebook page: Erick Fine Arts

Listen to the inspiring story of Erick Karangwa and Andrew Cooper below:


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