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Friday, July 1, 2011


Portchie is South Africa's, and in fact, I think the African continents, highest earning, living artist.

I met this quiet, humble man around two or three years ago, while he was preparing (painting) for an exhibition at the Alice Gallery, close to where I live. A large, very focused but friendly man, who was quiet happy to chat while he worked. His name comes from the time when his father ran a fruit and veg store. He was a chunky kid and he was called Porchie by (I think) the local Portuguese community.

Born in 1963, he grew up in a small Free State town called Tweeling, and eventually graduated with a B-Com degree from Stellenbosh University. He began painting as a hobby in 1991 and in 1994 had a solo exhibition where all 100 pieces were all sold. He has since had 57 solo exhibitions, locally and overseas.

Watching him was such an education for me, especially as my style, genre and medium, is so very different to his. His style is full of movement, colour, simplicity, I think, pretty much in keeping with his early childhood.

He arrives at the gallery with boxes and boxes of acrylic paint...a brand not available to any old 'Joe Blog', but which he especially chooses for its high pigment level and quality. Honestly, I have never seen such bright and vivid colours and I think this could be the one thing, other than his very nieve and unique art style, that sells his work. He squeezes copious amounts of paint on a small square 'pallet' (which is actually a small canvas board which he then uses for his final painting at the end of the day) and methodically slaps on paint, creating as he goes. He told me that he does have a clear vision of what he is going to do before he starts...and this is obvious while watching him....almost asif he also pre-envisioned each brush stroke, and slowly but surely, this picture enfolds. No sooner has he put the complete picture down, (which could be up to 1.5x1.5m) then he starts another!! Depending on the size, he could finish up to 8 pieces per day! His sculptures as equally as popular and normally are the first things to be sold at his exhibitions.

I have never really appreciated his style, simply because I have been somewhat 'closed up' in my own. But as with Vincent Van Gogh, who I honeslty didnt appreciate at all, I have slowly began to appreciate, not only his colourfull art, but his ability to market himself by simply MAKING it work.......possibly because I too am evolving as an artist....and as a person.

He BELIEVES in himself. He also believes, as is truth, that there is no such thing as 'right' or 'wrong' art but that the secret lies in its originality.

Vincent Van Gogh ....hmmmmm..... Listening to the words from the song 'Vincent' ...... beautiful and very apropriate words.......almost asif it was written for a dear friend.

It made me wonder:- If you could give your friends and loved ones a single song, which would epitomise them or their lives, .....Which one would it be?????


  1. 14, 2013 at 6:05 PM

    Sad to see no comments here. I also met Portchie painting in his beautiful gallery shop in Stellenbosch in Jan. 2013. Almost exactly as you found him at Alice Art - my wife and I discovered that he was a friendly, affable and unpretentious person. He cheerfully interrupted his work to talk with us, even allowing us to photograph him(with us).
    I'm always saddened and amazed at the number of artist that are critical of his business approach and his success in making his art so accessable to the average person. I think they are in truth just envious of his huge success and appeal, but are rather in denial about monetary viability of art. Les Egling - Artist in Mossel Bay.

    1. Hi. Absolutely Les. I have developed a somewhat jaundiced view of a lot of recent modernist work, but I only have admiration for this man, his passion and his marketing success. His humility is key.