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The Ricardo Monk Portrait

Ricardo Monk
Artist: Taf [Tafadzwa Mukwashi]
Diptych, oil on canvas
254mm x 508mm, 254mm x 508mm

Ricardo Monk is the man in the 23rd portrait of Facing a Century by the artist Taf [Tafadzwa Mukwashi]. This dichromatic Pop Art diptych in lamp black and light French ultramarine blue is an impasto, textured oil painting on two individual box canvasses.

Ricardo is one of several LifeXchange youth. LifeXchange is an organisation committed to the sustainable transformation of at-risk youth through a holistic life mentoring process. It was founded in 2007 by Cobus Oosthuizen. Using extreme sports and adventure activities to make an initial, genuine connection with troubled youth, the team at LifeXchange then facilitates the transformation of their lives through mentorship and development.

At the age of 18, Ricardo was a scarred and broken young man. His had been a life filled with extreme poverty, crime and violence. He had been known as ‘the fighter’, a criminal, drug addict and alcoholic. LifeXchange saw beyond the broken shell that he was, and helped him believe that his past could not define him without his permission. They began to build a support network around him.

Today, the drug-free Ricardo Monk is a gentle, smiling man who has learnt how to read and write and has been successfully completing courses in English, computer studies and screen printing. He has a new-found passion for art and has seen his giant puppets and floats being used for the Mzantsi Festival. He is the captain of LifeXchange‘s Ultimate Frisbee team and, most importantly, he has renewed hope in himself.

LifeXchange has facilitated the transformation of other at-risk youths like Ricardo, and their aim is to continue to do so, with our support, for many more. They have seen gangsters become diving instructors and drug dealers become qualified tour guides. They have seen and realized the immense value and humanity of every one of the individuals that has reached out to them.

The Ricardo Monk story is one of the courage, proactivity and perseverance of a young man who has not let his circumstances and past mistakes stop him from making leap after leap. Thank you Ricardo, for adding your moment of life being lived to Facing a Century!
[Many thanks to Mandy Rapson!]

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