Monday, April 6, 2015

Turning on the Light, a tribute by Kobus Moolman

The article, Turning on the Light, is a tribute by Kobus Moolman, a South African writer, to one particular painting by the South African artist, Andries Gouws (1). 
Kobus has long admired the paintings of Andries Gouws and he was delighted to have been invited to write an article on a particular work by this painter. Originally entitled Grahamstown Residence Room with Red Curtains by Andries Gouws, Kobus has given this painting a new title -Turning on the Light - for this article. Andries generously allowed Kobus to use the image of this painting on the cover of his latest collection of poems, A Book of Rooms (Deep South, 2014) This is what Kobus has written about the painting:

It is an oil on canvas painting which dates from 2009-2011. It is a small room with a narrow single bed. The bed is unmade. As if the occupant had only just got up and left.
A tall window leans over the bed. There is a red curtain drawn across the window. To keep the colour of the room in.
It is daylight beyond the room. The light has soaked through the curtain. The curtain glows. As if something more than sunlight were shining out there. Beyond the red fabric and the old walls of the building. There is a switch against the wall on one side of the window. Just above a small set of drawers. There is an electric plug on the other side of the curtain, just above a small table. The light leaks out from all around the edges of the closed curtain.
Leaking into the room. Filling the room up. And I wonder who has plugged the day in at the wall. And switched it on.
And what would happen to the bed with the red pillows and the red bedspread and the little table and the small set of drawers if the same person were to turn off the switch against the wall and pull out the plug? Would the room stop working? And what would the original occupant of the room do when he returned and found that his room no longer came on? Is it possible I wonder – looking at the room – this old red room that is so familiar to me – as familiar as if I were the one who had just got up and stepped outside – to stretch my legs maybe, or share a joke with a neighbour, or just to stand in the cold dark passageway away from the light for a moment – Is it possible to start the light up again once it has been turned off?

Copies of A Book of Rooms (Deep South, 2014). can be ordered from
(1) Andries Gouws (b. 1952 Johannesburg) is a major South African painter who studied art at the Rijksakademie voor Beeldende Kunst, Amsterdam, Netherlands,. His works, greatly admired by Kobus Moolman, are represented in major art museums in SA.

Kobus Moolman (1964 - ) is a multiple award-winning poet, playwright and short story writer. He holds a PhD and is a senior lecturer in creative writing in the Department of English at the UKZN, Pietermaritzburg
He has published five individual collections of poetry: Time Like Stone (University of Natal Press, 2000); Feet of the Sky (Brevitas, 2004); Separating the Seas (University of KwaZulu-Natal Press, 2007); Light and After (Deep South, 2010) and Left Over (Dye Hard Press, 2013). He has also published two collections of plays, as well as editing the journal Fidelities from 1995 to 2007 and the anthology, Tilling the Hard Soil (UKZN Press, 2010), containing poetry, prose and art by South African writers living with disabilities. During this period he received several awards, including the Ingrid Jonker Prize, the South African Literary Award for poetry and the BBC African Theatre Award. At present he works as an academic in English Studies at the University of KwaZulu-Natal in Pietermaritzburg.

Between 2000 and 2014 he published a number of books. These include:

Time like Stone. Pietermaritzburg: University of KwaZulu-Natal Press. 2000
5 Poetry. Johannesburg: Botsotso Publishers. 2001
Feet of the Sky. Howick: Brevitas Press. 2003
Blind Voices: a collection of radio plays. Johannesburg: Botsotso Publishers. 2007
2007. Full Circle. Johannesburg: Dye Hard Press.
2008. Anatomy. (Limited edition, illustrated chapbook.) Lidgetton: Caversham Press.
2010. Light and After. Grahamstown: Deep South.
2010. (editor) Tilling the Hard Soil: Poetry and Prose by South African Writers Living with Disabilities. Pietermaritzburg: University of KwaZulu-Natal Press.
2013. Left Over. Johannesburg: Dye Hard Press.

2014. A Book of Rooms. Grahamstown: Deep South