Ruphin Coudyzer

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Ruphin Coudyzer (1948-) is a photographer and musician.


Born Ruphin Maurice Coudyzer on 30 March, 1948 in Waregem in West Flanders, Belgium, where he completed high school at the Heilig Hart College Waregem, then went to university to study classical philology for one year, then switched to a two year Commercial and Secretarial Degree.

At age 13 he had obtained his first guitar and founded his first four piece rockband at the age of 14 (called "The Silhouettes", later renamed "The Phantoms"). A more serious rock/underground band "All Of Us", followed after four years, and they performed until his military service call up in 1970.

Armed with his training, he came to SA in August 1971 and got a job as safe custodian and rights department in a stockbroking company (National Board Of Executors) in Johannesburg.

However, he soon tired of this after one and a half years, so in 1973 he bought a camera and taught himself photography - a career that led him to become one of the more highly rated photographers in the country and certainly one of its most most prominent theatre and arts photographers.

An avid music lover, he would also go on to develop into an accomplished cellist, taking up the instrument at the start of the 1980s.

Highlights as general photographer and photo journalist

He started out with a job as darkroom operator with the Argus Africa News Service. During this time he compiled a documentary on Kliptown, a township next to Soweto, an exhibition of which was held at The Photographers Gallery in London in 1977 and started an ongoing series Focus on People, a candid reportage on people in their everyday doings, exhibiting some of this work at the Market Theatre and the Carlton Centre.

In 1977 he joined The Star newspaper's news photographers team for two years and in 1979, he became The Star Tonight! magazine photographer.

In February 1988 he was appointed Pictures and Graphics Editor of The Star newspaper, but resigned in February 1989 to devote himself to various photographic projects and some eminent clients on a full-time basis, many of them in the entertainment business. He gradually also expanded his activities to cover functions for such as product launches, award ceremonies, Christmas parties and the staff portraiture for numerous prominent corporations, and doing the photography for brochures for various companies.

This phase in his career lasted into the new millenium, when he eventually retired to Kleinmond, Western Cape, South Africa, opening a photographic studio there, and then closing it down to move to The Strand in 2023.

Contribution to SA theatre, film, media and/or performance

A superb craftsman, perhaps the best known in theatrical circles as the chronicler of Johannesburg’s Market Theatre (the 1970s-1990s) and of the Grahamstown Festival, he has worked widely in the entertainment and arts industry since his retirement from The Argus.

Within the wider ambit of his career, he has been a major presence in the arts and culture field, with his clientele including many individuals and companies in mainstream and alternative theatre, such as The Market Theatre, Sun International, Pieter Toerien Productions, The Johannesburg Civic Theatre, The Sibikwa Players, The People's Theatre, Pieter-Dirk Uys, Andrew Buckland, Committed Artists, Handspring Puppet Company, Junction Avenue Theatre Company, Mannie Manim, Mbongeni Ngema, Robyn Orlin, Paul Slabolepszy and Pieter Toerien, The Adele Blank Dance Company The Freeflight Dance Company, The Johannesburg Dance Foundation, The Moving into Dance Company, The Johannesburg Youth Theatre, Radio 702, Hello Johannesburg Magazine, The Goodman Gallery, Adele Lucas Promotions and many others. He also worked with many industrial theatre companies (such as The Blue Moon Company, The Industrial Theatre Company, Jumping Dust, Howling Wolf, The Event Company and Shoestring Productions).

Book publications

His contributions to major publications of theatre and performance have included:

1988: He did most of the photography that appeared in The Best of Company by (about The Market Theatre) including the front cover.

In 1997 he contributed 33 photographs as well as the front cover picture to the autobiography Just the Ticket by Computicket founder Percy Tucker.


Some of the numerous exhibitions he participated in include:

1979: Le Plat Pays, an exhibition of work done during various visits to his home country Belgium. at the Market Theatre Gallery.

1986: Exhibition of some of his theatre production photographs at the Market Theatre Art Gallery.

1987: Took part in the highly acclaimed The Star Photographers Off-Beat exhibition at the Shell Gallery.

1990: Twenty works from his Grahamstown Festival coverage over the years exhibited during the Grahamstown Arts Festival and the Hot from the Fringe run at The Market Theatre Gallery. He also took part in the Excellence in Photography show, a highly prestigious exhibition of selected works by members of the SAIP,

1993 An exhibition entitled Highlights (with works from the last 14 years of his photography in the theatre and entertainment world) held at PACT's Windybrow Theatre Complex

1994 An exhibition (sponsored by Benetton) was held at The Market Theatre of works chosen from the most momentous Market Theatre productions over the last 15 year.


Among his many accolades and awards over the years, have been:

1978 and 1979: The Star-Picture-of-the-Year award (and highly commended in the News Picture Category of the Shell Press Pictures of the Year Awards) of 1978 and 1979)

1982: Won a World Press Photo Contest Award in the art section, with a photo of the Sonje Mayo Dance Group.

1984: A documentary on him and his work was included as part of a series screened on SABC TV about top photographers in the country.

1986: forty-eight of his prints on people were selected to form part of an exhibition entitled The Soul of Johannesburg and presented at the Total Gallery by the South African Institute of Photographers.

1989: Won two Silver Awards at the Profoto Awards (in the category Portraiture as well as the category Editorial People). In December of that same year he received the Fellowship Award from the SA Institute of Photographers, based on a presentation of 20 works from his Grahamstown Festival coverage.


E-mail correspondence from Ruphin Coudyzer, Thursday 2022/03/17 19:20

An interview and subsequent email correspondence between Coudyzer and Temple Hauptfleisch, during August 2023.

Report by Adrienne Sichel published in The Star, 28 March 2006.


Curriculum Vitae: Ruphin Coudyzer (March, 2024)

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