Born in Magaliesberg in 1935, Wessel Marais is the son of Postmaster who grew up on a plot near Potchefstroom. Wessel says of his father, “My father was a kind of artist, a poet from whom I seem to have inherited my urge to create”.
Upon the completion of his schooling, Wessel recalls that art was not an economically sound career to pursue, nor was his ambition to become a pilot practical and achievable. Hence, he followed his father’s footsteps to the post office but when the opportunity to study commercial art after hours arose, “life took on a new meaning”.
Soon after, Wessel left the post office and began working in a shop and painting after hours. He took lessons from Zakkie Eloff, learning how to do portraits in pastel and oil, and drew inspiration from Erich Meyer’s landscapes and the masters of French impressionism. Encouraged by his success, he exchanged his sheltered job for the life of a painter with the support of his wife Christine.
Soon, Wessel had his first exhibition in Potchefstroom, followed by others in Johannesburg, Cape Town and at the Schweickerdt Gallery in Pretoria. His studies: landscapes, city scenes, flower studies, still lives, Cape coons pulsating with boisterousness and the joy of living and children playing in gay abandon, have become sought-after collectors’ items throughout South Africa.