Channelling pain one drawing at a time

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Channelling pain one drawing at a time

Having lost both his parents, one month apart, orphaned Denzel Beukes started doing tattoos for an income but also to transfer his pain to others, in an artistic manner.

The 32-year-old artist from Swakopmund has since overcome unimaginable challenges to become a rising star in the world of concept art.

In an interview with VIBEZ! Beukes said he discovered his love for art, which was sparked by his mother’s artistic pursuits. 

“When I was eight, I sketched on an off-cut cloth and gifted it to my mother as a birthday present. Mom then prophesied that I would be an artist. It all started in the 90s in Swakopmund. Unaware of my talents, I enjoyed the usual pleasures of a young boy, sports and playing outside,” he said.

However, tragedy struck when Beukes lost both of his parents at the age of 17.

“I lost both of my parents; first my mother to cancer and a month later, my stepfather in a car accident.” 

He said his continuous supporters – his sister Michelle Farmer and her husband Riduwone – took care of him.

“Like most young, foolish teens, I gave up on art and found myself lost and rebellious… As a young man, my lifestyle back then revolved around alcohol, friends, and good times,” Beukes shared.

It wasn’t until he met his now-wife Geranique, that he started to turn his life around and rediscover his love for art. 

“She taught me about responsibility and the finer things in life. I then officially started my career in the signage industry, working for different companies in Namibia. In quick succession, I went from a handyman to a designer, printer, and technician,” he said.

Under the mentorship of established artist and current employer Lindley Hoaeb, Beukes rekindled his passion for art and developed a style that is uniquely his own. He draws inspiration from his life experiences, channelling his pain and hurt into his art, and creating stunning pieces that showcase his incredible talent.

Using charcoal pencils and sometimes colour pens to extend the art, Beukes’ work is deeply personal and emotional.

“My brain is like a nonstop tape playing ideas. I can have the craziest idea and I’m positive that it will make a stunning concept, but the question is; is it ‘just’ art or, is it art by Denzel Beukes? I have to see myself in all that I sketch,” he said.

One of Beukes’ most challenging projects to date was ‘Scars that Remain’, a deeply personal project that forced him to confront painful memories from his past. 

“It was a dark trip down memory lane,” Beukes said. “But it was important for me to make peace with the past and grow as a person and as an artist.”

“I made peace with the fact that I cannot rewrite history; what I can change is how it affects me as a person and what I do about it.” 

Moreover, he highlighted that his goal is to simply showcase his art to the world, starting with showcasing his collection at any chance he gets. Furthermore, he is planning on hosting his debut solo exhibition soon.

“I’m working on a collection that I’m going to donate to charity. I dream of expanding my audience to foreign countries and lastly, I want to start an academy to teach people of all age groups my way of crafting and inspiring as many young artists as I can.” 

Beukes believes that creative
people are undervalued and underappreciated in Namibian society. 

“Our communities lack knowledge of the value of art; we lack support while they expect more and provide less,” he noted.

Despite the challenges he has
faced, Beukes remains committed to his craft and to inspiring others to pursue their dreams.

“Be yourself,” Beukes advised aspiring artists. “Reference your life experiences, it tells of who you are.” 

Connect with him on Facebook: Denzil Diaan and/or Charcoal Dust.