Artist Profile


Dumisani Sibisi

b. 1962, Johannesburg (Soweto)

Dumisani Sibisi is an artist shaped by the hopeful atmosphere following the 1994 democratic elections in South Africa. His collages and three-dimensional images are chiefly of the townships, which Sibisi paints only to record a particular reality, actually wishing for it to disappear.

Sibisi does not idealize, showing plainly the poverty and deprivation that millions of black Africans continue to struggle with. He collects the scraps, wastes and offcuts that litter township streets and incorporates them into his paintings, recycling discarded materials and giving them a new function. His streets are starkly empty but for a few monumental figures, burdened by the physical loads they are forced to carry as they walk for miles to their destination, or wait to catch a taxi. Township houses are covered with ads for detergent and toothpaste, while the roofs – as in reality – protrude with corrugated metal and well-dented motor vehicles. But despite the bleakness of such images – which Sibisi paints in a muddy brown and grey palette – there prevails a message of hope. A dove with an olive branch carries a potent message: let there finally be peace in this broken land.

Sibisi was born and educated in Soweto, where he continues to live and work. He was taught by sculptor Sydney Kumalo, as well as by Ezrom Legae. Exhibiting since the age of 15, Sibisi has included his work in shows in Australia, Portugal, Canada and the United States.

Education and Training:

1975: Won award in Maize Board Art Competition; trained by Sydney Kumalo and Ezrom Legae

1977-1984: Studied at Jabulani Technical School

1986-1988: Taught arts and crafts part-time at Winnie Ngwekazi

First Solo Exhibition:

1994: Creating Peace from the Pieces, Natalie Knight Gallery [Johannesburg]

Group Exhibitions:

1977: South African Association of Arts [Johannesburg]

1989: Contemporary Artists, Serendipity Gallery [Johannesburg]

1990: Contemporary Artists, Australia
Leading African Artists, Dom Pedro Marina [Portugal]
Group show during tour of 64 South African Black Business People [USA]
Arts and Crafts, Serendipity Gallery [Johannesburg]

1991: Contemporary Artists, Serendipity Gallery [Johannesburg]
Iketsetse Art Exposition, Ronald J. [Johannesburg]
Old and New Woodcarvings from West Africa to Venda and Artworks from Important Local Artists, Berman Gallery [Johannesburg]

1992: Art, Craft and Jazz for Africa, [Pretoria]

1993: Cultural Diversity, Natalie Knight Gallery [Johannesburg]
South African Art, World Trade Centre, Knight Galleries International [Toronto]

1994: Windows on the New South Africa, World Trade Centre, Knight Galleries International [Toronto]

1996: Tomorrow is Now, Knight Galleries International [Toronto, Vancouver]

1997: Images of Freedom [Arts and Events Gallery, Toronto] Opened by Mr. Patrick Evans South African Consul-General