“Painting gives me a deep sense of satisfaction and purpose. It has been my path back to health; my life after cancer.”
Building a life after cancer
Dutch urban-artist Pee-Jay Czifra-Malawau has used his creativity to build a new life after a brave, and difficult fight with cancer. One of the most significant moments in his healing process was the day an old friend, mural artist Paul Watty, gave him a sketchbook and a pencil with the message to “finally do something with his creativity”. Finding peace in creating something new, it did not take long before Pee-Jay caught on. Painting had become his therapy.
Channeling strength to heal
When creating, Pee-Jay finds his inspiration in strong leaders and icons, like Stevie Wonder, Alicia Keys, and Jimi Hendrix, just to name a few. People who have an inspiring story to share. “When choosing my subject matter, I am always looking for sincerity, a facial expression, a quote or a photograph that touches me in a certain way.” In his own style, influenced by street-, pop- and urban-art, Pee-Jay transfers their charisma and personality onto the canvas, and their strength becomes his.
A second chance at life
“If I get a second chance at this life, I want to leave something behind, for when it is eventually my time to leave this earth. If I get to live, I want to become an artist, and I want to become very good at it.”
A humble man, until very recently, he would not call himself an artist. He felt he had not proven himself yet, not “earned” the “title” yet. But he is ambitious and worked hard at it, and is now comfortable calling himself an artist. “I am now able to stand up for my new identity; I belong. But it took time to fully embrace it. I have grown into it.”
Pee-Jay loves creating and recycle artworks are amongst his favourite pieces. “You can use anything to paint on!” Like mounted old cassette tapes, floppy disks or vinyl records, creating a whole different kind of “canvas”. In his studio, he shows me boxes full of old cassette tapes. They are waiting for one of his new recycling projects. A gallery in Amsterdam asked him to bring them six 100x100cm./39.37×39.37 in. works of recycled art and he happily accepted the challenge. Only to realize later he would need 1300(!) old cassette tapes for the project. They are not easy to come by! A shout-out in the newspapers, however, did the trick and he may very well have the last remaining cassette tapes in the country sitting on his studio floor.
Only one year into his new career, Pee-Jay’s popularity in his home country of The Netherlands increases fast. His schedule is filled with interviews for TV, radio, magazines, and newspapers, and his art is selling so fast, it is hard for him to keep up. With the increased interest in his art, Pee-Jay has plenty of plans to grow his art business. He is asked to design a set of sports shoes for Mascolori, a famous shoe brand from Rotterdam, to be revealed during the popular “North Sea Jazz Festival” in Rotterdam, and he is recently asked to create a super-sized mural on a high rise in his home city of Tilburg.
In contrast to his increasing “celebrity status”, Pee-Jay works out of a humble studio, set up in a small bedroom in his home. Realizing it will soon become too small, he dreams of being able to afford a larger studio somewhere. Perhaps an old farmhouse, with a big barn that he can transform into a location where creativity happens; for himself and other artists.
On the other hand, Pee-Jay still tires easily and painting from his home-based studio gives him the opportunity to rest when he needs it. It provides him more flexibility to create while gaining his strength back. For now, it is the way to go.
Interested in Pee-Jay’s art on your wall?
Interested in Pee-Jay’s work on your wall? You can browse his artwork in our Gallery.
Or contact us if you would like him to create you a commissioned artwork.