Artist Profile


Lucky Sibiya

[1942 – 1999]

Lucky Sibiya has made a lasting contribution to South African contemporary art. He is best-known for his painted woodcut panels, which incorporate the forms and symbols of traditional African art in stylized and elegant compositions. As the son of a medicine man, Sibiya was exposed to the mysteries of his culture since childhood, and drew inspiration from them throughout his artistic career. He always filled his compositions with human figures engaged in some form of activity, whether toiling in the fields and making bread, or dancing and stick-fighting.

Sibiya was born in 1942 in Vryheid, Natal, moving with his family at the age of eleven first to Sophiatown and later to Soweto. He attended St. Peter's Seminary for seven years, but his art training came from the private tutelage of renowned artist Cecil Skotnes. Skotnes introduced Sibiya to the wood panel and later to the coloured woodcut. Sibiya cut his panels in shallow relief and embellished them with paint, presenting the panels as finished objects in themselves. He also experimented with mixed media and found objects, and became a prolific sculptor of bone, wood and metal.

Lucky Sibiya exhibited his work throughout South Africa, as well as the United Kingdom and the United States. His work is included in all major collections of South African contemporary art. Following his death in 1999, he was honoured with a retrospective exhibition at the UNISA Art Gallery in Pretoria. Sibiya actively supported other artists by collecting their work and involving himself in informal teaching.

Lucky Sibiya CV

(1942 – 1999)
1942: born at Vryheid, Natal
1953: moved to Sophiatown, then Soweto

St. Peter’s Seminary
Private pupil of Cecil Skotnes
1974: visited Europe and USA

1971: Gallery 101 [Johannesburg]
Several solo exhibitions in South Africa, Swaziland and the United Kingdom
1999: Tribute to Lucky Sibiya, UNISA Art Gallery [Pretoria]

1979: Contemporary African Art in South Africa, University of Fort Hare [toured South Africa]
1981: Black Art Today, Soweto [Johannesburg]
1988: Neglected Tradition, Johannesburg Art Gallery [Johannesburg]

150 South African Paintings: Past and Present [Alexander & Cohen, 1990]
Images of Man: Contemporary South African Black Art and Artists [by Ej de Jager, Fort Hare University Press: 1992]

South Africa, Australia, United Kingdom and the USA.
Durban Art Gallery
Johannesburg Art Gallery
Pretoria Art Museum
South African National Museum, Cape Town
University of Fort Hare
Sandton Art Collection, Johannesburg
University of South Africa
University of the Witwatersrand
William Humphreys Art Gallery, Kimberley