Brendan Broedelet is one of those people who make you wish you could do just a little more with your life. It’s not that he’s showing off, it’s just that he’s so good at everything he does.
A madly creative hair stylist by trade and former SA Hairstylist of the Year, Brendan is also one of KZN’s top artists and is a featured artist in Makiwa galleries around the country.
His love for the dramatic started in his home town of East London where, at the tender age of three, he wowed his extended family with a drawing of cherry blossom trees.
“I’d helped myself to stuff in the art room at my mom’s pre-school,” he explains. “I don’t know where the inspiration for the cherry blossoms came from, but apparently I was good enough to eventually do lessons with top East London artist Elaine Savage.
“Funny enough, I did a lot of my painting and drawing in those early days with a dear friend Amra-Faye Wright, who became a famous dancer, singer and actress and is still playing Velma in Chicago on Broadway.”
Then came his teenage years and a move to Durban and Beachwood Boys’ High School where Brendan says art was put on the back burner in favour of “every sport under the sun”, but mainly squash and hockey.
After matriculating and completing his national service, he found his way back to art with the North Coast Art Group, where he’d arrive with a surfboard under this arm.
“Under the tutelage of Meta Orton and on the strength of one of my portfolios, I got a job doing commercial art for OK Bazaars,” he says. “I soon found that designing sales tickets and the like was not really creative enough, so I branched out into hairdressing which I still do and love today.”
Several awards later and with a home at Innovation Hair Company, Brendan rekindled his love for art after friends and family nagged him to use his talent wisely.
“That was about a decade ago and I suppose I’ve never looked back,” he says. “I progressed from sketching to oil painting and mixed media until mentor and artist Colleen Balfour of the Durban North Art Group said she couldn’t teach me anything more.
“Remarkably people then started commissioning me to do work and I discovered a newfound freedom working with fine artist Ana Pereira de Vlieg and more recently with Pascale Chandler.
“When galleries – such as Makiwa and Mount Edgecombe’s Green Gallery – started taking my work I finally realised that I could do this, and people actually liked my work.”
He’s also very happy to be described as “an everyman artist” in as much as he doesn’t suffer from self-loathing.
“It’s the curse of just about every artist,” he says. “It’s that desire to be something else rather than who and what you are. While I’ve been chasing and changing formats over the years, I’ve managed to discover a contemporary style that speaks to me and my love for Africa and its colours.
“I like to do mark making which in the art world refers to lots of layering and textures and movement and depth in a painting.”
Some of the subjects he’s been commissioned to paint vary from the “totally embarrassing and unmentionable” to people’s pets and even their car collections.
“What I try to convey to my clients is that you shouldn’t paint for decor, so while decor can be an influence, an original painting should not have to fit into a set design.
“You have to let us artists be who we are.”
Like his paintings, Brendan’s life is beautifully layered. He plays league tennis, goes snow skiing whenever he can with family and friends, and is becoming a “bit of a nutrition nut”.
“My family are all incredibly energetic with my dad having played touch rugby until he was 90, so I need to make sure I stay fit and healthy so I can enjoy my time when I ease back from work,” laughs Brendan.