Master strokes wave SA’s overlooked citizens into view
Among Zwelethu Machepha’s most notable works is a 2017 collection that tells the story of SA’s waste reclaimers
Zwelethu Machepha was born in 1990 in Soweto. On completing high school, he attended art classes intermittently at the Johannesburg Central Library and Johannesburg Art Gallery, discovering in the process what can only be described as a mine of innate talent and technical capability. Encouraged by his mounting enthusiasm for visual artmaking, Machepha completed a printmaking course at a specialised institution, which he characterises as his only formal training.
“I made a conscious decision to take my art seriously in 2010, when I said to myself: ‘Fuck it’, and took a leap of faith. I quit my job, enrolled in the printmaking course and started to produce artworks. I was motivated by the fact that art allowed me to become myself and gave me the ability to do what I wanted; it was a turning point for me as a creative.”
Machepha is a multidisciplinary artist, but is now focused primarily on drawing and portraiture. “I don’t have a preferred medium: the materials I work with include, but are not limited to, fine-line pens, charcoals, embroidery, acrylics, Indian ink, watercolours and pastels.”..