A well-known muralist is the artist responsible for the mural of the lovely peonies in the reception area of the newly opened In-Patient Unit at Centurion Hospice.
Phanuel Souza (47), who is currently residing in Pretoria, started with this mural, which depicts beautiful peonies, in the second week of October. Within three days his work was complete – and the result was a lasting artwork that symbolises honour and bravery.
Something he wishes for all the patients whose last stop might be in one of the rooms at Centurion Hospice to see, enjoy and experience.
Phanuel painted the peonies from a picture. “In the Japanese culture peonies stand for, among other things, bravery. The staff members at this hospice are extremely brave and dedicated. I would not have chosen anything else,” he beamed.
Phanuel’s story is also one of bravery and hope; of never giving up. He was once a painter in Zimbabwe, and destitute to the point of not being able to afford a single crayon, let alone brushes and paints. He tried to draw on pavements using pieces of brick, but the police and his fellow citizens did not appreciate such art. He started to paint on walls, but those whom the walls belonged to, thought his wall-art was just temporary and would not last. His career eventually grew to the point where he was accoladed for his work – but he had to make the tough decision to immigrate to South Africa, leaving his wife and children behind. “When I have made enough money with my art, I will go back to Zimbabwe. In the meantime, I am able to provide for them and see them as often as I possibly could.”
He started out as a street artist, sitting on the corners of streets in Doringkloof and later in the gardens of restaurants in Lyttelton, selling his art to passers-by. But his career veered off into a different direction – that of muralist.
“South Africans bought into the concept of murals,” he said, his brush (which he now can easily afford) in his hand. “It is everlasting art; nobody can sell it.”
Phanuel used the social media site Facebook to advertise his artistic services – and within a few months he became an instant hit. “People from all over the country asked me to create works of art on their walls.”
He said that he enjoys creating his own artwork, but that people tend to give him pictures that he must paint. “Children prefer superheroes like Batman and Superman on their walls,” he said.
Marius Bester, the operational manager at the Centurion Hospice, said that he came across Phanuel’s work on Facebook. “We asked him to paint the memory tree on the back wall of the IPU. We were very impressed by his work and we decided to use his artistic services for the reception area as well.”