SPEELMAN MAKWE MAHLANGU
(1958 – 2004)
Mahlangu was born in Germiston on the 1st of October, 1958. He attended Matshediso Western Province School and matriculated from Katlehong High School. In 1977, he enrolled at the Katlehong Art Centre, where he concentrated on sculpture and drawing.
Speelman participated in numerous group exhibitions throughout South Africa generally exhibiting with other members of the Katlehong Art Centre. He also contributed to the Kwa Ndebele Mural Design project.
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 realm of southern African icons of traditional life, depicted almost as Egyptian hieroglyphics.
“I work and draw on ancient mythology and African folklore to create an end product which focuses on communication rather than 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.
“My painting incorporate symbols and patterns from Ndebele murals and Egyptian hieroglyphics. They often describe things that one cannot see but can only feel. My 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. A dream dreaming us.”
Speelman Mahlangu died suddenly in October 2004. He is survived by his wife Gertrude and one son.
He will be missed. In the months preceding his death he had made a body of sculpture including monumental works. He was in the process of moulding the works in preparation for casting them into bronze for an exhibition at Everard Read Cape Town.
1977 Solo exhibition, D H Williams Hall, Johannesburg
1980 Group exhibition at the South African Association of Arts, Pretoria, “New Signatures”, awarded first prize.
1982 Group exhibition in the Vaal Triangle, “Multiracial Art”
Solo exhibition, F.U.B.A. Gallery, Johannesburg
Group exhibition, Johannesburg, “Market Graphics”
Group exhibition, Southern Sun, Operation Hunger
Group exhibition, touring South Africa and West Germany, “BMW Tributaries”
Group exhibition, KwaZulu University, awarded first prize for sculpture
Solo exhibition at Design Animations, Johannesburg
Group exhibition, South African Association of Arts, Pretoria, “Volkskas Atelier”
Two-man exhibition at the Amadlozi Art Centre
Group exhibition at the Sanderling Gallery, Johannesburg
1990 Group exhibition at the Sanderling Gallery, “Afrika Now”
Three man exhibition at the Sanderling Gallery
Group exhibition at The Everard Read Gallery, “Town Country”
1991 One-man exhibition at the Botswana National Museum, Gaborone, Botswana
1995 Commissioned to paint a 3m x 1,5m “mural” for the Johannesburg International Airport (International Arrivals).
1997 Solo Exhibition, Everard Read, Cape Town
2000 Solo Exhibition, Everard Read, Cape Town
2003 Solo Exhibition, Everard Read, Cape Town
2006 Retrospective, Everard Read, Johannesburg
2018 Opening exhibition of the Norval Foundation, Cape Town
2019 Legacy of a Gentle Man, Everard Read, Cape Town
Speelman Mahlangu’s works hang in private and public collections including the Frankfurt Museum of Ethnology and the Norval Foundation in Cape Town.