Louis Maqhubela
15 Years
10 January - 16 February 2006


Art First is delighted to present a major body of work by Louis Maqhubela, the pre-eminent painter of his generation in South Africa.

The exhibition is a survey of his output over the past fifteen years, spanning the period leading to Nelson Mandela's election as President of a new South Africa in 1994, and the first decade of democracy that followed.

Maqhubela's schooldays in the 1950's were shared with music legend Hugh Masekela and the artist and art historian David Koloane. Their journey out of the depths of Apartheid South Africa in the 1960's is a momentous story.

This publication*, enormously enriched by John Picton's authoritative essay, and the exhibition itself place Maqhubela as an important and crucial pioneer of modern art in South Africa. His distinctive style, evolved out of pure inner necessity while living in South Africa, was transformed after his first visit to Europe in 1966, and later by his move to London, where he studied at Goldsmiths and the Slade in the mid 1980's. His contact with British artists has fostered an informing dialogue as he continues to evolve a highly personal language.

The role of memory and his use of richly coloured abstract forms, sometimes with a graphic line that expresses his own African narrative, convey a sense of wonder, joy and mystery. His art resonates with a spiritual quality approaching that of Paul Klee and Wassily Kandinsky but his heritage remains African, with its powerful sensibility and language of symbols.

Clare Cooper
Benjamin Rhodes

*Exhibition catalogue: 'Louis Maqhubela, Fifteen Years', with an essay by John Picton, Emeritus Professor of African Art, University of London, School of Oriental and African Studies.