On Artists

Questions of Abjection in Two Paintings by Mxolisi “Dolla” Sapeta

By Nkule Mabaso

Mxolisi “Dolla” Sapeta was born the third child of four children in New Brighton, a township outside Port Elizabeth, on January 26 1967. At the age of six he would, after school as he waited for his older siblings to arrive and grant him access to the family home, draw on the gravel outside the house and this over time became his favourite past time. The young Sapeta predominantly drew stick figures and sees this as the time that he developed what would later be his present relationship with the arts and a love for drawing.

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Dogs on Duty: The unsettling aesthetic of Trevor Makhoba

By Mario Pissarra

Editorial note: This was originally commissioned by the Africa Centre, London and published on their now off-line website, Contemporary Africa Database, c. 2001, with the title “Trevor Makhoba Profile”. Apart from the correction of minor typographic errors, the essay is retained as in the original. It can be noted that the retrospective exhibition referred to at the conclusion of the essay was cancelled, due to unforeseen problems arising from negotiations with the late artist’s family. A photocopied series of essays commissioned for the catalogue can be found in some South African libraries (universities and museums). Makhoba’s work can be viewed in H. Proud (ed), ReVisions, SAHO and Unisa Press, 2006.

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GATHERING STRANDS: Keynote address for opening of Lionel Davis retrospective exhibition, Iziko South African National Gallery, 21 June 2017

Mario Pissarra, 22 June 2017

(It is indeed a great honour to have been invited by Lionel Davis to open his retrospective exhibition. I wish to congratulate the curators, Tina Smith, Ayesha Price, Ernestine White and their team, as well as District Six Museum and Iziko Museums for this historic occasion, and for making the artist’s 81st birthday an unforgettable one, Happy Birthday Lionel!)

Many people know of Lionel Davis as a former District Six resident, and as a former political prisoner. Many will also be aware that he has a long history as an educator in the arts and heritage sector. Many too will know that he is an artist.

Lionel has often said that he has been fortunate to have not relied on his art for a living, as this has allowed him to pursue it on his own terms, unfettered by the commercial pressures that beset most professional artists.

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Re-reading Malangatana

Mario Pissarra, 6 January 2008

[An edited version of this essay appeared in Farafina # 11]

For more than 40 years Malangatana has been one of Mozambique’s best known cultural figures, and indisputably her best known visual artist. Since his first appearance in a group exhibition in Lourenco Marques (now Maputo) in 1959, Malangatana’s works have been shown in numerous countries across the globe. His trademark style- dense compositions contained within shallow pictorial space, consisting of simplified shapes, mostly figurative, often with pronounced eyes and teeth, and typically rendered with a bright palette and bold outlines- is instantly recognizable.

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