Microbiologist Prof Leon Dicks is not only a leading researcher in lactic-acid bacteria but is also an accomplished painter. His first solo art exhibition opens in Stellenbosch on Friday, 7 December. He has previously participated in three group art exhibitions, including at the PJ Olivier art centre in Stellenbosch.

He paints at home in the family room – so that he doesn’t miss any family interaction. Afrikaans music often plays in the background. “And now and then I break out into a little dance in front of the easel,” he adds.

He has been involved in creative work from an early age and, at 16, began with pen sketches. By the age of 35, he switched to oils.

Prof Dicks began painting seriously a decade ago but has never attended a class in oil painting. “I’m too afraid of being influenced by the styles of other artists and would much rather look at their work and learn from them in that way,” he says. “I want to be free, I want to draw on my own feelings and use my own brush strokes, I want to live out whatever fancy takes me and not be caught up in the methodology and technique of ‘you can’t this or that’.”

He does like to listen to advice and he is mad about criticism of his work. “So I do actually attend class – but offered by the public and not by an art institute,” he laughs as he looks around at his creations hanging on the walls of his office in the Department of Microbiology.

“I like faces and landscapes,” Prof Dicks muses when he is sounded about favourite subjects for his oils. Still lifes leave him cold. “They’re boring and expressionless,” he says. “Stellenbosch is beautiful enough to inspire me; who wants to look at a pot of peaches when the mountains are so glorious?”

He describes his style as “free and colourful” and “not caught up in the minuteness of the every day”. He explains: “I’m precise enough in my science, so, in my painting, I want to free what’s in my head and put that down on the canvas.”

Prof Dicks was one of the category winners at the National Science and Technology Forum’s awards ceremony this year.


One of Prof Leon Dicks’artworks.

The exhibition, which opens at 18:30 on Friday, 7 December, will be held in the exhibition space of the Engel and Volkers estate agency on the corner of Plein and Bird streets and will run until 15 December. The speaker at the opening will be Nelis Koegelenberg, head of the PJ Olivier art centre in Stellenbosch.

Visit HERE to find out more about his work.





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