Speelman Mahlangu

Mahlangu was born in Germiston on the 1st of October 1958. He matriculated from Katlehong High School. In 1977 to 1980 he enrolled at the Katlehong Art Centre, where he concentrated on sculpture and drawing. Speelman studied painting with Rose Shakanovsky and sculpture with Stanley Nkosi. In 1980 he won first prize in the “New Signatures” competition.

Mahlangu’s imagery is uniquely African. He has long been interested in South Africa’s “homecoming” to the African continent, and consequently one finds oneself drawn into his timeless works of traditional life, depicted almost as Egyptian hieroglyphics.

Speelman’s painting incorporate symbols and patterns from Ndebele murals and Egyptian hieroglyphics. They often describe things that one cannot see but can only feel. His themes include an exploration and spiritual mythical ideas of the world to come. The role of music in African life and traditional rituals, African pots, human figures, calabashes and drums emerge from semi abstract shapes.

“I work and draw on ancient mythology and African folklore to create an end product which focuses on communication rather that confrontation. A real African heritage is depicted in my work through the use of many symbols resulting in a penitent look at the faces of mankind. To me art is more of a religion than a craft”- Speelman Mahlangu

Mahlangu has exhibited extensively in South Africa and internationally for the past three decades. In 1995, he was commissioned to paint the mural that welcomes travelers to South Africa's Johannesburg International Airport. From 1996 onwards, he has personally exhibited in Vancouver, Toronto and New York at shows dedicated to contemporary African art. He is widely regarded by art critics and fellow artists as the leading painter of Ndebele images - his own ethnic identity. He has also taken part in acclaimed group exhibitions in London, Paris, Israel and Berlin. He also contributed to the Kwa Ndebele Mural Design project.

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