Artist Nuno Da Cruz, who will be remembered by many in Joburg’s gay and art scenes, was honoured by his loved ones on Sunday.
Da Cruz, 50, tragically took his own life in the UK on 16 September. A memorial to mark his life and work was held in Johannesburg over the weekend, attended by friends and family.
Da Cruz is survived by his partner of 20 years, Wayne Dam, as well as his parents, brothers Jean and Luis, and his niece Roxanne. His creativity, warmth, generosity and cheeky sense of humour were all celebrated at the gathering.
Da Cruz was born in Mozambique in 1968 before immigrating to Odendaalsrus in South Africa’s Free State province as a young child. After attending school in Welkom, he went to Johannesburg to study, and earned a degree in Fine Arts at Wits Technikon.
As a young artist in the 90s, Da Cruz worked as a barman at a number of gay clubs in the city, including Zips, Mrs Henderson’s, Zanzibar, Embassy and Krypton. His colourful and pop-influenced commercial work was sold at fleamarkets and was hung on the walls of many homes and restaurants.
Da Cruz’s more serious work, which included screen-prints, paintings and drawings, was featured in group and solo exhibitions and tended to tackle darker and more topical subject matter. He was influenced by American pop artists, comics, architectural design and 80s electro-pop music and was unashamedly gay in his work.
Da Cruz loved collecting ceramics, CDs and vinyl records and was always with a camera in hand. After living in Johannesburg for many years, he moved to Cape Town, Zürich and then London.
His death represents another talented soul lost far too soon in our community. Our deepest condolences to his life partner, family and friends.