Mandla Vanyaza

Mandla Vanyaza’s paintings capture quiet moments, with an interest in both domestic and public spaces.

Arts Education

2003 Art and Design N6, Sivuyile College (College of Cape Town), Cape Town
1986-1989 Part-time studies at the Community Arts Project
1980 Matric at Bethel College, Butterworth

Exhibitions (solo)

2009 Traverse/Traversty, Association for Visual Arts, Cape Town
2006 In the Kitchen, The Framery Art Gallery, Sea Point, Cape Town
2005 Sekoto-My Memory, AVA, Cape Town
1998 Lipschitz Gallery, Cape Town
1997 AVA, Cape Town
1994 Recent Pastels, South African Association of Art, Cape Town
1993 SAAA, Cape Town
1991 SAAA

Exhibitions (group)

2011 A Natural Selection: 1991-2011, AVA
2010 Embassy of Spain, Bishopscourt, Cape Town
2009 Art from Southern Africa
2007 africa south, AVA. The Framery Gallery, Cape Town
2006 Art in Business, Artscape, Cape Town
2005 Finding You, a collaborative exhibition in clay, AVA. Botaki Exhibition 4, Old Mutual Asset Managers, Cape Town
2004 10 Years of Democracy, Everard Read Gallery, Cape Town, Anglican Aids and Healthcare Trust, Kenilworth, Cape Town.2002: Art Kites Project, Iziko South African National Gallery, Cape Town
1999 Paintings for the Millenium, Bay Hotel, Camps Bay, Cape Town
1997 Association for Visual Arts, Cape Town
1996 Peace-ing South African Art Together, Castle of Good Hope, Cape Town. Art for Peace, Steyr, Austria
1995 South African Artists, World Economic Forum, Congress Centre, Geneva, Switzerland. Mandla Vanyaza, Zwelethu Mthehwa and Louis Jansen Van Vuuren, AVA
1994 Crosscurrents: A Window to South African Art, Barbara Gillman Gallery, Miami, Florida
1992 Somervakansie-Uitstalling, Kunshuis, Clanwilliam. Art from Africa, Singapore. Visual Arts Group Travelling Exhibition, SAAA.1991: International Painting and Graphic Exhibition, Nice, Greece. Dorp Street Gallery, Stellenbosch.
1992 Summer exhibition, Daljosafat Arts Centre, Paarl


Public collection: Iziko South African National Gallery; UCT; SA Embassy, Washington DC; Stellenbosch University Museum
Corporate collection: Metropolitan Life, Sasol, Vodacom, Board of Executors, Hollard Insurance, and Spier


2006 Mario Pissarra, Botaki Exhibition 4: Conversations with Tyrone Appollis, OMAM, Cape Town
2005 Featured in An African in Paris, a documentary on Gerard Sekoto shown on SABC
1992 D Brutus (ed.), Book of Hope, David Philip Publishers, Claremont


2004 Spier
1997 Tafelberg


2000-2002 Taught art at Sivuyile College (College of Cape Town), Guguletu
1992 One of the judges at Volkskas Atelier Competition


No Easy Labels: Mandla Vanyaza at the Lipschitz Gallery

© Mario Pissarra, 1/09/1998

Mandla Vanyaza’s  current exhibition at the Lipschitz Gallery in Bo-Kaap defies easy labels. The works are conventional in that you’re looking at rectangular paintings and drawings on the wall and ceramic and bronze figurines on plinths. The subject matter suggests a simple reading as “township art”. The use of snap-shots and built up frames implies the influence of Willie Bester.

Yet the work is also cautiously innovative in several respects. The dominant media is enamel paint, not renowned for it’s versatile qualities.  Most of the paintings create a dialogue between observed reality (eg. hostels, meat markets, streets, interiors, etc.) where the proportions in the images correspond with their subject, and a more subjective reality seen in the gestural application of paint, and in the vibrant use of colour which frequently, but not always departs from the colours of an observed scene. White and black are used as colours adding to the dramatic quality already conjured up by the bold palette, although on occasion the use of black outline appears overdone.

The sculptures reveal a preoccupation with capturing movement, yet  the movement in the paintings is generally not evident in the subject, but rather in the painterly application. There is a sense of space and even detachment in the compositions. Many of the snap shots or painted figures appear more as formal compositional devices than as portraits of particular people and this contributes towards a sense of distance. Yet this distance is countered by vibrant colours which make the generously spaced gallery a warm place to be. .

Due to the inherently limiting possibilities of enamel paint, it is perhaps not surprising that the most impressive works are the interior scenes where Vanyaza combines this industrial media with acrylic paint.  Ironically it is these interiors where figures are largely absent, where there is an intimacy and familiarity with the objects represented that suggests a human presence.  In one of the Interiors  he has inserted a photograph of a young woman who appears to be on the cusp of a smile.  It is physically situated to the side of the painting, and located compositionally as a portrait on the wall. She looks out towards the viewer, as if to mimic the gaze which Vanyaza himself often assumes in relation to his subjects.

This is Vanyaza’s fifth solo exhibition, and the first not held under the auspices of  the South African Association of Arts. . His statement that “my work is an extension of my life, a reflection of my everyday experiences” does not only refer to his subject matter, but also has resonance in that this exhibition demonstrates a developing confidence for a 35 year old artist who has never had the privilege of  full-time training, and who has quietly persevered in his quest to be an artist. If he can sustain this growth we can all look forward to many more intriguingly satisfying works.

This review appeared in The Cape Times , 1998