WORLDART | Return to Eden
Dion Cupido’s first solo exhibition since 2018, Return to Eden, opens on 7 April at the WORLDART gallery in Cape Town.
In the world of portraiture, Dion Cupido is the real deal. His edgy reflections of people marked by their urban environment and the pressures of blue-collar living provide a glimpse of the realities he faced as a child in Mitchells Plain, a notorious neighbourhood on the not-so-glamorous side of Cape Town.
“They say that if you’re not a socialist in your twenties, you don’t have a heart, and if you’re not a capitalist by the time you’re in your forties, you don’t have a brain. But look at how most people live. Democracy is failing the poor and we don’t know what the answer is. I was lucky enough to get a job with a computer company when I left school, but all I wanted to do was to paint. On my lunch breaks I used to look through the windows of art galleries and dreamed about painting for a living, but my working class background just closed doors for me,” Cupido says.
He painted as much as he could in his spare time and pursued every opportunity available, usually via community art programmes where he could get paint and canvasses at cheaper prices. Eventually his work started showing up in group exhibitions in unlikely venues like coffee shops and foyers, till one day gallerist Charl Bezuidenhout saw his work. “I absolutely loved his willingness to push away from what everyone was doing and create his own style in the classic genre of portraiture. No one else was telling their story with so much raw emotion and it felt true,” says Bezuidenhout.
“I’m in my forties now and still not a capitalist. The thing is though, I was lucky enough to find a way to pursue my passion and got rewarded for it, but I know many people who had been just as dedicated and were never rewarded. Instead they had to deal with being stereotyped and other prejudices,” says Cupido.
Return to Eden will be on show at WORLDART (54 Church Street, Cape Town cbd) from 7 – 29 April 2022. It can also be viewed online at https://www.worldart.co.za/