Artists journey from rural village beginnings to international recognition and reward


An increasingly renowned artist, an avid philanthropist and a freelance arts writer are just a few ways to describe Khehla Chepape Makgato who will be exhibiting at the RK Contemporary art gallery in Riebeek Kasteel from 27 May until 20 June 2018.

This young artist is quickly making a name for himself, with his most recent achievement being the receipt of the 2018 Zygote Press International Artist Residency in Cleveland, USA.

Awards, collaborations and residencies
Makgato, who was born in Johannesburg and raised in a rural village outside Polokwane in Limpopo, has a diploma for Fine Arts, majoring in Printmaking, as well as a diploma in Media Practice, majoring in Journalism. A prolific writer, artist and mentor Makgato founded, and is the creative director at Samanthole Creative Projects which provides art skills, encourages reading of poetry and literature, and motivates the youth in rural communities of South Africa.

His list of accolades includes being one of two South African delegates to the 2012 Africa Utopia Youth Arts, Cultural and Olympia Festivals of the World at the Southbank Centre in London. He has participated in numerous art exhibitions both locally and internationally. In 2015 he collaborated with William Kentridge on a project and continues to work with him to date. He has won a studio art bursary from the African Arts Trust. He is also an inaugural recipient of the 2016 Art Across Oceans Residency at Kohl Children’s Museum in Chicago, USA. He was the winner of the ImpACT Award for Visual Artist in 2016 from the Arts & Culture Trust of South Africa, and he was the Mapungubwe Visual Artist of The Year in 2016.

From 2010 to 2015, he prepared grant proposals, developed budgets and obtained funding from private donors for arts workshops in rural communities across South Africa. He also established the Rhodes Park Library Kids Book Club to encourage reading and writing in his community of Kensington.

Next solo exhibition
Makgato, who works in a range of mediums, including collage and assemblage art, and whose art often focuses on social issues and the people involved in them, will be holding a solo exhibition at the RK Contemporary art gallery in Riebeek Kasteel in the Western Cape which will run from 27 May until 20 June 2018. Entitled CHRONICLES FROM MAKOTOPONG, this exhibition features a body of work inspired by the artists memories and experiences from the rural village in which he grew up.

This body of work explores and revisits the village – Makotopong, a small village over 18 kilometers outside Polokwane – in which I spent the first two decades of my life,” says Makgato.

Some titles reflect the names of real people in memory, especially rich names of women from the Northern-Sotho culture. There is an abstract self-portraiture frequenting this body of work.”

The show especially seeks to honour the ever-hardworking and resilient women who, despite so many challenges and under-resourced facilities in their homes and communities at large, manage to bring up children of note – who become important adults. In this instance, I used the recently appointed Vice-Chancellor of the Cape Town University, Professor Rosina Mamokgethi Phakeng-Setati to reference the success against odds by black women in South Africa who are constantly confronted by male dominated workplace environments. Professor Phakeng’s achievements can inspire a little girl in a dusty rural village, such as where I come from, to strive for a dream.”

Astrid McLeod, owner and curator of RK Contemporary says that she is extremely excited to have Makgato exhibiting at the gallery. “Khehla Chepape Makgato is a rising star whose work is increasingly sought after. Private and institutional art collections the world over feature his work. Not only this – but the man himself seeks to challenge the norm and to do things differently – this is an ethos shared by RK Contemporary.”

For more information contact Astrid McLeod on 083 6533 697 or email


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