Artist Adventurer - From the panoramic view afforded him by his mountain bike, all the world is Terry Kobus’s canvas.
© Natalie Bosman, The Citizen - 30 January 2008
Some might know Terry Kobus as the “spinman”, a cycling expert who writes an online column, and others as the oil painter who brings the grasslands back with him to Joburg. But it’s actually only once you put these two personas together that you get the real McCoy.
“The synergy between my sport and my art is dynamic – it’s perfect,” says Kobus. “I hadn’t painted in more than 20 years, but one day I just had this feeling that it was what I was meant to do.
“I didn’t even know if I could still paint,” he laughs, “but I immediately went to an art store and bought R3 000 worth of supplies.
“Later that year, I resigned from my job and gave myself a chance to do my art properly. I just had a strong feeling that it was going to happen.”
Although Kobus says he initially struggled to find a subject matter that really spoke to him, he rather ironically found his niche right in front of him, through his love of mountain biking.
“The thing about mountain biking is that it takes you to such wild, wonderful places. I would go on ‘inspirational trips’ to the Drakensberg and the Transkei, for example, which is where I came across the Nguni cattle that I now paint.”
And so it was that Kobus, former graphic printmaking lecturer at Wits Technikon, gym owner and layout artist, found himself a fulltime artist, and never happier.
Now dedicating himself to studying Nguni cattle and the Zulu traditions tied to these revered animals, Kobus has taken it upon himself to convey these cultural traditions through his art.
Some of his canvases are almost journalistic in their documentation of a particular Nguni cow, its surroundings, the artist’s scribbles that made it come to life, and even that Nguni cow’s very own herdsman.
The overall result is a multi-faceted mélange of artistic license and scientific oil renderings, captured from a peaceful vantage point in the “rooigras”.
Whether on hand-etched wooden boards or huge material canvases, Kobus’s beautifully- rendered Nguni cattle never fail to evoke emotion, most likely due to the intensity with which Kobus connects with his subject.
“They really have personalities,” explains Kobus, who even gives his subjects endearing names like “Speckled Bean”. “They are much more than just cows, and there is so much tradition that we do not take the time to understand.
“I see myself as a modern-day adventurer, cycling the wild, never knowing what I’ll find around the next bend.”