Renowned Durban-based artist, Collin Cecil Sabapathy (57), passion for art was ignited when he was just seven years old when he entered – and won – a drawing competition run by Chappies bubblegum.

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  • This win led his now-late father to dub him ‘a great artist’.

    After taking an aptitude test in high school, he was classified as a genius.

    When Collin finally opened up his art business, he melded this and his father’s words into the name of his business, ‘Genius Art’.

    He has obtained his masters in fine art and taught art at high school level for some 18 years.

    Collin, who has lived in Chatsworth all his life, said he spent 40 years of his life as a struggling artist because of the high cost of art supplies. It has only been over the last 10 years or so that his career as a professional artist took off.

    He is now able to make a living from his art, supporting his wife and four children.

    A painting of which he is particularly proud depicted Nelson Mandela, Mother Theresa and Mahatma Gandhi, and was chosen for an auction where it sold for R95 000. Collin says a large portion of the selling price was donated to the Natal Blind and Deaf Society.

    Collin has been commissioned to paint for many people, both locally and internationally. A humble man, he prefers to keep his prices reasonable to enable as many people as possible to enjoy the fruits of his talent. He also gives free art lessons to residents at the Cheshire Home for the disabled in Chatsworth in the hopes that he can ‘help them escape reality and find joy in something’.

    Collin grew up in an arty family, and so the artistic genes have been handed down.

    “My 14-year-old daughter is already hot on my heels and has done some amazing work so far,” he said.

    His art keeps him really busy, leaving little time for socialising. “This doesn’t really bother me, because I like keeping busy doing what I have a passion for,” he said.

    Portraits are his particular passion as, he says, every face tell a different story.

    He has had to overcome many challenges to get where he is today, but he says it was through hard work and determination that he managed to make a name for himself.

    Even though the many projects I undertake can become tiring both mentally and spiritually, every time I pick up a paintbrush or start a drawing, I still get excited.

    “Every painting or drawing I do is a new challenge that I look forward to taking on, and each time I do it, I always learn something new.”

    Collin advises all aspiring artists to be humble, honest and true to themselves. “Stay determined and do not get jealous of others who have perfected their skills – keep painting and persevere.”

    Article Credit: South Coast Herald