Sad farewell to much-loved mouth-painter Print
News - Ons Mense
Tuesday, 23 July 2019 09:15
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Dieter Marzinger, renowned quadriplegic mouth-painter from Klipkop, died in his sleep on 27 June.

Dieter, born on 18 October 1971, was a former Springbok martial arts champion and Special Forces instructor until his diving accident in May 2002. He suffered a complete break between his fourth and fifth cervical vertebra, also known as a C4/5 Quad and was paralysed from the shoulders down.

“I’m really just a head,” Dieter was fond of saying. He felt that it was important to be honest about the dark days he experienced. In March 2015, when he had an art exhibition at Bronberg Lodge, he said to The Bronberger that he accepted the theory that his life had purpose and that he still needed to fulfil certain things, which is why he was still alive.


Dieter Marzinger
Photos: Supplied

He said that once you become a quadriplegic you pretty much lose control of everything, even your independence. When painting, however, Dieter was completely in control and could get lost in the activity for hours and not feel as if he were handicapped.

Dieter had been drawing since childhood, and even won an art competition in high school. The prize was a bursary from the Everard Read Gallery to study any art field of his choice, but Dieter went to the army instead.

It was his ex-mother-in-law, Maxine Southerland, who motivated Dieter to start drawing after his accident. She took the initiative, connecting a pencil to the end of a stick with tape and built him a makeshift easel. He started with pencil sketches and later moved to oil paint on paper, because he couldn’t afford canvas.


Dieter busy mouth-painting

“It was extremely intimidating and difficult,” he said. “To say that it is like painting with your left hand is an understatement; it is much more difficult.”

Depending on the size, it took Dieter about 40 hours to complete an oil painting. Dieter didn’t just paint, though. One of his projects was a 10-Second self defence DVD and website, aimed at empowering women to defend themselves during the first ten seconds of any violent confrontation.

After years of frustration with uncomfortable wheelchairs and countless accidents, he designed the ultimate all-terrain Reva Wheelchair with the assistance of the company, Integrated Convoy Protection (ICP).


One of Dieter’s paintings

ICP builds a range of armoured vehicles that can withstand explosive devices and landmines and Dieter had no doubt that ICP could build the toughest wheelchair around. He received access to the company’s engineering department and the design Dieter and the team came up with was tested for an entire year over the roughest terrain and obstacles.

The chair also has torso and leg support, a ventilated backrest and could elevate for eye-to-eye contact in social settings, as well as recline and tilt to shift body weight and relieve pressure.

Dieter’s life was celebrated at a memorial service on 5 July at Bronberg Lodge in Zwavelpoort. Due to numerous requests, the memorial was live streamed, hosted by ‘Dieter’s Life Canvas – A legend’s memorial’ Facebook page.