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 art@rkcontemporary.com.


Khoikhoi stories as abstract pop art

A solo exhibition by contemporary artist Ade Kipades pays tribute to the stories told by the Khoikhoi through bold and colourful abstract art works that are both fun and serious in their intention of honouring this original South African tribe.

Entitled ‘Khoikhoi Pop’ this unique exhibition takes places at the RK Contemporary Gallery in Riebeek Kasteel from 02 September until end September.

The Inspiration
The Khoikhoi – which means ‘men of men’ or ‘the real people’ – were the first pastoralists or ‘herders’ in Southern Africa, and the first indigenous people to come into contact with the Dutch settlers in the Cape in the mid 17th century. As the Dutch took over land for farms, the Khoikhoi were eventually dispossessed, and their society and way of life disintegrated.

During this time, the Khoikhoi, who are known for their rich oral traditions and tales passed down from generation to generation, developed many stories depicting the situation between themselves and the Dutch – tales that are rich with satire, mockery and ridicule designed to undermine the settlers,” says Kipades, who explains that the Khoi satire drew upon the characteristics of certain animals that matched those of both Khoikhoi and settler attributes – such as the trickster Jackal, being the Khoikhoi, and the dominating Lion, being the settlers. “In the Khoikhoi stories collected by Thomas Baines and Leonhard Schultz, these two prominent characters emerged.”

Artwork on Exhibition
For this exhibition, Kipades used a technique developed by the Surrealists called automatic drawing which allows the artist to depict and express their subconscious. “In automatic drawing, the hand is allowed to move “randomly” across the paper and is thus to a large extent freed of rational control.”

I am drawing parallels between the fun element in Khoikhoi satire and my approach to constructing an abstract painting. I see my work as both fun and serious – and use playful lines, colors and shapes that form subtle optical tricks as if to mock the perception.”

Astrid McLeod, owner and curator of RK Contemporary says that she is very excited to see the final pieces on exhibit in the gallery. “Ade’s depiction of these Khoikhoi stories is a unique concept that has given rise to highly collectable art works that are connected to South African history.”

For more information on Khoikhoi Pop contact Astrid McLeod on 083 6533 697 or email art@rkcontemporary.com.


Nine year old artist reproduces famous Vincent Van Gogh self-portrait

The Gallery was very lucky to have the work of young Eli Williams on exhibition recently as part of our In With The New Exhibition.

At the young age of nine, Eli is set to make a stir in art circles in the coming months and years if his current level of talent is anything to go by. Eli, who has only just celebrated his ninth birthday, is an extremely talented grade 3 pupil at Sweet Valley Primary in Cape Town

who has been drawing and painting since he was three years old and is demonstrating rare skills at such a young age. This pint sized artist, who aspires to become a professional artist, and a robotics engineer, when he grows up, says he first started working with pencils and paper and then water colours.

His most recent artwork is an exceptional oil on canvas painting of Vincent Van Gogh. In With The New required that the participating artists put their own contemporary spin on classic artworks found in museums and collections around the world. It was this, coupled with his love for Vincent Van Gogh’s work that inspired Eli to recreate Van Gogh’s self-portrait of himself without a beard.

In the artists words, “the painting is about the size of my little brothers, Charlie and Sam – if they stand next to each other.” “I like the way Van Gogh paints – you don’t blend in each brush stroke. He’s just free in the way he paints and I love that,” says Eli, who also says that he is inspired by seeing a pencil and blank piece of paper and being able to use it. “I wish I had more spare time to draw and paint.”

Eli’s talent seems to be a family trait as his grandmother is Therese Mullins, a renowned Cape Town based artist who has been a top achiever in the Sanlam Portrait Awards and most recently was a finalist in the 2017 Living Portrait Master Competition. Eli’s grandfather, Allan Mullins, has been a friend of Astrid’s since childhood and Astrid says it is wonderful to watch such talent developing in Eli. “I suspect he will go far and hope that The Gallery can form part of his springboard.”



Latest art trend revives centuries old photographic technique

Young South African artist Chloe Obermeyer is standing out from her contemporary peers through the use of an unusual 174-year-old photographic printing process called cyanotype, and using the technique to creative unique artworks with her own distinctive twist.

Obermeyer, who is a recent graduate of the Michaelis School of Fine Art, creates once-off artworks in a distinctive blue which portray her fascination with the natural world, especially the ocean.

I am intrigued by nature’s ability to perplex scientific conclusions and its tendency to inspire human imagination and fiction,” says Obermeyer. “This outlook was sparked during my graduate research, which was focused on creating an exhibition inspired by the serendipitous discovery of Coelacanths in Southern African waters. Currently, my works have often become a means of navigating my interest in Southern Africa’s oceans. I often touch on ideas surrounding scientific discovery, wonder and environmental concern.”

The process explained
Making a cyanotype involves placing a negative image — which could be an item or photographic negative
on treated paper or fabric. After a light sensitive solution is brushed on, the paper is placed under ultraviolet light, or in direct sun, to develop.

Basically, two light sensitive solutions are mixed together in a 1:1 ratio to form a work chemistry. This is then painted onto a surface such as paper or fabric and then left to dry in a place that contains no UV light. Once the surface is dry, I arrange the chosen items above it in a composition that is to my liking. If I am working with a printed photographic negative, I will make use of a glass pane to add pressure so that I can get accurate prints. This set-up is done in a UV safe environment before I move the whole thing outside into a bright, sunny spot where it can be exposed to UV radiation from the sun. After the print has been exposed, it is rinsed and developed in water followed by a hydrogen peroxide bath to bring out the rich blue,” explains Obermeyer.

The history of cyanotypes
The cyanotype process — from the Greek “cyan”, or “dark-blue impression” was invented around 1842 by the British astronomer and chemist John Frederick Herschel. Anna Atkins, considered by many to be the first female photographer and the first person to create a book of photo-based images, blended science and art in botanical cyanotypes, starting in the 1840s.

A long dormant technique, cyanotypes started to reappear in the 1960’s, when people started to be interested in reviving old photographic processes. Cyanotypes are both unusual and trendy at the same time. “It almost has a sort of alternative, cult following, especially with contemporary artists overseas,” says Obermeyer.

Obermeyer’s work is exhibited at The Gallery in Riebeek Kasteel. Owner and curator Astrid McLeod says that she is passionate about representing the young graduate artists but is particularly impressed by the unique nature of Obermeyer’s cyanotypes.

Whilst the technique itself, and the process of applying it to art, is not unique, it is not commonly seen in South Africa and Chloe’s work stands out from others not only because of its unusual nature but also its appealing content portrayed in an undeniably alluring deep blue.”

McLeod goes on to explain that Obermeyer is one of the participating artists in an upcoming exhibition entitled “In With The New” where artists have been invited to submit an artwork which puts their own contemporary spin onto classic paintings and sculptures which stand in art museums around the world. “Obermeyer has chosen Gustav Klimt as her inspiration for the exhibition, which opens on 11 August at The Gallery and runs until the end of September.”

For more information or to view some of Obermeyers work for sale please contact Astrid on 083 6533 697.


Buying Prints, Linocuts and Etchings

Advice for buying prints, linocuts and etchings:

1) Choose a piece that you love – It should speak to you personally, and stay with you long after you leave the gallery.

2) Get help from a professional – galleries play a crucial role in helping buyers to discover what’s right for them.

3) Choose from small editions – ensure that the size of an edition has been determined before you purchase.

4) Make sure your print is an authentic edition – an authentic edition will be signed and numbered.

5) Buy early – whilst limited edition prints, linocuts and etchings don’t set out to be expensive, they may end up that way.

6) Conserve your art carefully – if you buy an unframed print, linocut or etching and arrange for your own framing, it is important to check that the framers use conservation grade materials to fix the piece within the frame.