Sfiso Ka Mkame

Sfiso Ka Mkame | Oil Pastels on Paper

About the artist

Sfiso Ka Mkame lives in KwaZuluNatal in Nazareth Island, Pinetown, not far from Clermont, where he was born in 1963. There is a strong sense of community amongst the families, built up over generations of familiarity. Not far from Durban where its vibrant cultural diversity offers a dynamic vitality, Ka Mkame has always been surrounded by visual and intellectual stimulation enabling the formulation of his artistic creativity and ideas.

A self- taught artist, he received sporadic training during the 1980’s, and began to perfect his technique of layering sheets of colour, using oil pastels, to eventually ‘scrape’ imagery from this bed of contrasting colours and tones.

A painstaking approach, it requires time and careful consideration of pre-planning of direction leaving little to no room for misjudgement. Mkame refers to this technique as ‘scraffito’

Public attention focussed on Mkame when his ‘Letters to God’ composition was exhibited and acquired by the South African National Gallery (SANG). The poignant cry, reverberating from the imagery, asked for an explanation to the cruelty inflicted upon the majority of South Africans by the apartheid system. It remains a seminal work representing that disgraceful period of South African history.

His imagery is rhythmic and romantic, suggesting a sense of musicality, celebration and idyllic harmony. His art celebrates the beauty of African women, African culture, its imagery, its music and fashion. His compositions are eye-catching and memorable, uplifting and thought provoking.

Mkame has exhibited widely in solo and group exhibitions throughout South Africa, in Germany, the USA and at the1990 Venice Biennale, in Italy.

His art is in the South African National Art Gallery Collection, the Durban Art Gallery and the Tatham Art Gallery Pietermaritzburg, the Johannesburg Art Gallery, Wits University Art Museum, UNISA, the University of KwaZuluNatal Art Collection, the Javett Art Centre, Pretoria, the MTN Art Collection, Intel SA Corporation, Mobil Oil Collection, the Sasol Art Collection and numerous private collections.

He features in numerous important art publications including the Gavin Younge Art of South African Townships (Thames and Hudson 1988), Steven Sack (ed) The Neglected Tradition of South Africa (JAG SA 2004) 10 Years 100 Artists Art in a Democratic South Africa 2006 (ed Sophie Perryer) The MTN Art Collection 2006, Revisions Expanding the Narrative of South Africa 2009 and celebrated visual artist and writer Sue Williamson’s publication South African Art Now.