Sfiso Ka-Mkame was born in Durban, of Zulu and Xhosa parentage; he lives and works from his home studio in Marionhill.
He is largely self-taught but his career was promoted by participation in Community Arts Workshops in Johannesburg in the mid-1980s. Ka-Mkame speaks of them as ‘milestones’ that took his work to another level. His ‘love letters’ of the 1980s were created at the height of the turbulence of the apartheid era in South Africa; the strength of these works gave Ka-Mkame a high profile in South African art. He still finds interest in day-to-day struggles. The bold layering of oil pastel colours provides textures of varying depths and sets the tone for the issues that are to be addressed. Comments on social ills and matters of the ancestral spirit world occupy the artist’s mind and with these he delivers work that is at once captivating and engaging.
In 2001 Ka-Mkame was one of the founder members of the Durban collective, 3rd Eye Vision. During its initial phases Ka-Mkame, Zamani Makhanya and other members held workshops and works like Door of no return and In pain of bondage I feel my being in my womb are the result.
In Door of no return Ka-Mkame created a scene about the slave trade in Senegal where countless Africans were forcibly exiled from their homeland for a lifetime of slavery in the Americas. The obscure ambience created by Ka-Mkame captures this moment in time and brings it to the present.
Earlier works by the artist in the Campbell Smith Collection show his engagement with life, death, survival and the relationships between people. Homage to the children was produced between 1986 and 1987, and is dedicated to the children of Soweto who took to the streets in what became one of the heroic incidents of the liberation struggle. Ka-Mkame also touches on issues of conflict within families, showing women as the custodians of culture, and commenting upon painful experiences like losing a child.
You are welcome to visit his studio at any time. Please make an appointment 24 hours before.