Cobus Erasmus, a white towering 29-year-old artist gifted from birth in 1994, embarked on a remarkable journey of self-discovery when he immersed himself in the vibrant artistic community of August House in crime-infested black downtown Johannesburg. In this article, we delve into Cobus’ life, background, and experiences as he enters the local art scene, undergoes personal growth, and explores his artistic potential.
One transformative moment for Cobus occurred when he attended an exhibition at a trade gallery, where he encountered a group of inspiring artists. Captivated by their work and the vibrant atmosphere, he recognised Doornfontein as the ideal place to nurture his artistic aspirations. A visit to the Marabi club, with its soul-stirring live jazz performances, further solidified his deep connection to art and the possibility of moving to downtown Johannesburg.
Cobus soon realised that his initial naivety had caused him to underestimate the level of crime in the area. A theft incident served as a wake-up call, reminding him that a few individuals can tarnish the reputation of an otherwise beautiful and vibrant community. Nevertheless, Cobus remains resilient, firmly believing in Doornfontein’s immense artistic potential.
Born and raised in Klerksdorp, Northwest, Cobus spent his formative years attending school alongside his friend Tristan. They later relocated to Pretoria in 2011, where Cobus completed his high school education. Although he initially pursued a career in engineering, he eventually discovered his true passion in art and pursued studies in Italy. However, the disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic prompted Cobus to re-evaluate his aspirations and fully embrace painting as his primary focus.
With unwavering determination, Cobus embarked on his artistic journey, taking on commissioned painting projects. While some of these requests didn’t bring him personal fulfillment, they provided invaluable learning experiences.
Cobus acknowledges that mastering an art form takes time, likening the early stages to a writer’s first novel or a musician’s initial compositions. Despite the challenges, he successfully completed his first major deadline, raising an astonishing ZAR90,000 in just seven months.
Cobus cherishes the memories of attending the prestigious R&B Turbine Art Fair, where renowned artists like William Kentridge showcased their works. Witnessing artworks priced in euros and dollars, Cobus gained a deeper appreciation for the vast scale and magnitude of the art industry. Reflecting on his humble beginnings, he marvels at the financial success he has achieved as an artist, surpassing his previous earnings as a musician. Despite his humble beginnings, he is grateful to be able to support himself with a full-time career as an artist.
During his time as an engineering student, Cobus and a group of friends formed a band called Little Ringo. The band achieved modest success, performing at festivals and even receiving radio airplay. However, financial challenges and a peak into the lifestyle of touring musicians led Cobus to gravitate more towards the realm of visual arts, recognising the greater earning potential. Cobus Erasmus’ transition from engineering to the world of art exemplifies the transformative power of pursuing one’s true passion. His journey into the world of painting in downtown Johannesburg – Doornfontein – highlights the hurdles he overcame, from initial naivety to the challenges of honing his craft.
Cobus’ story serves as an inspiration to aspiring artists, reminding them of the importance of perseverance, dedication, and the willingness to embrace growth.
As he continues to evolve as an artist, Cobus Erasmus invites others to join him on his artistic odyssey in the vibrant town that has captured his heart.