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Cigarette box art inspired by Dlamini-Zuma

Written by Mickey Mentz

Local artist pockets a cool R10 000 for his contraband creation

Using only discarded contraband cigarette packets, Barrydale artist Ant Chidrawi created a Nkosazana Dlamni-Zuma collage that was recently purchased by a local resident for R10 000.

Under the draconian lockdown rules that were implemented by the South African government, smokers at one stage had to cough up as much as R160.00 for a packet of fags. That is R160 for entjies that ver sold for less than R10 in March.

It has since also been well documented that the decision to ban the sale of tobacco not only cost government billions in loss of tax revenue; it also led to the establishment of tobacco cartels that ultimately fund criminal activities.

And while the verdict is still out on what the health implications of the inferior tobacco products that were smoked during hard lockdown will be, it is becoming more certain by the day that corruption had (in typical South African fashion) played a central role in many of the restrictions that were implemented.

Back in Barrydale Ant, a much-loved and R10k richer owner of a Karoo style PNA called The Hub, reportedly always smiles while wearing his mask.

Masked artist sells Dlamini-Zuma work made from cigarettes.

Like all businesses owners, Ant had barely made it through the unprecedented economic collapse (he at one stage sold the shop’s acoustic guitar regulars like this author used to play on his stoep) yet his intention with the artwork was never for financial gain.

Although the sale of the artwork at the very least served as some form of restitution for the ludicrous prices he had to pay for his habit during lockdown, he insists created it only because he loves “dabbling” with new techniques.

“I noticed all the new interesting pictures and colours of the packets and started collecting it, thinking maybe we can do a collage,” said Ant.

“My initial idea was to make it pixelated, but then it would have had to be the size of a wall because the packets are so big.”

Inside The Hub in Van Riebeeck Street you will find several impressive paintings that were created by the modest shop owner who moved to the Klein Karoo town in 2012.

Before he established Barrydale’s one-stop cv printing and internet shop, Ant lived in Kommetjie for 20 years and in another lifetime he was a professional Black Jack player – touring the world in search of the next big score.

For more on the gambler, we recommend a stoep-coffee with the man himself.

Black Jack player yes. Artist… not according to Ant.

“I’m not a trained artist. I’ve never had lessons. I just enjoy playing with art. In fact I do not consider myself an artist. I just consider myself someone who likes to dabble.

The art dabbler has just completed another interesting project on former Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe in which he used only Zim Dollar bank notes.

Collectable Cash: This Ant Chidrawi collage of former Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe is now for sale

“What else can you do with those bank notes,” Ant pointed out.

Readers interested in purchasing his latest dabble with art can email Ant: ant21@iafrica.com

About the author

Mickey Mentz

From my Barrydale base, my goal is to tell the stories of people and places on the picturesque R62. Ek het oor die jare 'n cappuccino verslawing ontwikkel en my hond se naam is Karoolus.

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