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Tropics Voices • Nice to meet you, Sir!

By Peter Vaz Nunes

Tropics Voices - Nelson Mandela by Peter Vaz Nunes (oil/linen, 30x40cm)

So here I am, a Dutch painter who lives and works in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, writing this blog for the South African Lifestyle Magazine called Tropics Voices, while outside it is cold, dark and rainy. I feel honored and challenged by the invitation to write for this magazine. However, used to putting my thoughts, beliefs, ideas and what have you on a canvas using oil paint, quietly and peacefully in my studio sitting in front of my easel, I now find myself behind a computer screen, typing away, feeling slightly afraid and insecure. Partly, I know this feeling very well since for me, creating, be it in words or paint goes hand in hand with insecurity, doubt and fear.

By Peter Vaz Nunes


From early childhood on I felt somehow disconnected with the world, unseen, inhibited and reluctant to claim my space and always wondered how other people could appear to be so happy and free. It was not until much later that I learned and had the courage to open up and convey my thoughts and ideas. I had finally met myself, so to speak. Not surprisingly perhaps, this was also the start of my painting career. I had found a medium to express myself, to show myself to everyone who wanted to see. No longer withdrawn in the shadow, but walking out into the light. Mandela has been an extremely important example for me in this respect. As homage to his great spirit, I started portraying him. In the process of trying to capture his greatness, wisdom and strength in oil, I felt humble and strong at the same time and as the portrait developed, I even felt more and more connected to the man. Every morning when I went to my studio and picked up my brushes to work on the Mandela portrait, I smiled and heard myself say: Nice to meet you, Sir. Therefore, this is why I decided to feature my painting in this first piece I am sharing with the world. Mandela, who had been disconnected from the world in a literal sense for so long, put away in a prison, managed to hang on and once free, stepped into the spotlights and became president of South Africa.


Tropics Voices - Nelson Mandela by Peter Vaz Nunes (oil/linen, 30x40cm)

Tropics Voices – Nelson Mandela by Peter Vaz Nunes (oil/linen, 30x40cm)


“ I learned that courage was not absence of fear but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid but he who conquers that fear. ” Nelson Mandela


These words, these wise words from an incredible man, I will take the liberty of using as my motto, the guiding line throughout whatever I will come up with in these blogs. The upcoming weeks or months I will shed my light on various issues, all, obviously, more or less related to my work and life as a painter. Let’s embark on this mission together, in failure and success, we may find ourselves astray at times, we may be afraid but let’s bear Mandela’s words in mind whatever we do. All the time.



Written by Peter Vaz Nunes, Tropics Voices Ambassador in The Netherlands.



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