Late legendary South African artist Samson Mnisi’s works on offer to collectors at Investec Cape Town Art fair

Minisi died a day after the opening of his much awaited solo exhibition locally Man of the Hour in Johannesburg late last year, but left behind a sizable body of works. Investec Cape Town Art Fair is from  February 17- the 19, 2023.

By Edward Tsumele, CITYLIFE/ARTS Editor

The late legendary South African visual artist Samson Mnisi who died late last year a day after the opening of his then much-awaited exhibition Man of the Hour at Art Mile in Rosebank, Johannesburg, will enjoy a post-humous spotlight at the Investec Art Fair in Cape Town this year.

This is because a selection of his huge body of works that he is believed to have produced during his life time will be up for sale at the international art fair. The art fair being the biggest on the African continent attracts international visitors and collectors who descend to view and search for Africa’s best artists and their works. Mnisi had a significant presence internationally during his life time, especially in the US where he exhibited for quite sometime, attracting a loyal fan and collector base. But back home, for sometime he did not exhibit that regularly in recent years.  Therefore his exhibition in Johannesburg, that was disrupted by his sudden death, was to mark his come-back on the local exhibition circuit.

The Investec Cape Town Art Fair will be hosting its 10th-anniversary edition from the 17th – the 19th of February 2023. With the fair being the largest contemporary art fair in Africa, boasting 100 exhibitors, 23000 visitors, and 6 000 VIPs the Art Fair has proven to be a key platform where the African art Market and the international art world meet. It’s provided a reliable and exciting platform for the local art community such as collectors, galleries, curators, and artists.

Having initially started 10 years ago as a laid-back event for local art audiences in 2013 the Cape Town Art Fair eventually went international in 2016 with the assistance of Fiera Milano, an Italian events company. Making this year’s theme within its decade period; ‘The Notion Of Time’ well suited. The theme is appropriately wide-ranging and encompasses ideas related to the past, present, and future, including the ever-important concept of change that comes with the passing of time both for humans and the world around us.

 This year  Asisibenze Art Atelier which organized the aborted Samson Mnisi Man of the Hour exhibition will be participating at the fair curating works by Mnisi. The late Minis’s  works challenge the

viewer to think far beyond the physical as his pieces sing our hidden lives and thoughts to life.

Samson Mnisi’s paintings ask one core question: What is Africa? His reply? “It is not a begging bowl, a raised fist, bankrupted state, black face, but a subtracted and abstracted forcefield”. Mnisi projects a

psychic inscape – inner worlds explosive, turbulent, crossected, circled, obsessive signallings of

Nietzsche’s Eternal Recurrence. Motifs repeat themselves, and life is seen as variations of a single

dance. Colours are bold, sometimes noisily acidic. But it’s the artist’s physical drive that emerges most

powerfully – the muscularity of vision, fearless, Dionysian,” says art critic Ashraf Jamal.

Born in Lesotho, Samson Mnisi, otherwise known as Rain Maker studied Fine Art and photography at

FUBA Academy. Upon completing his studies he  participated in group and solo exhibitions both locally and internationally. He went on to be categorically known as a post-war abstract expressionist, finding himself practicing both painting and poetry. However, it was his exposure to indigenous meditative and healing rituals that went on to influence not only his lifestyle but his themes and techniques.

With his works being influenced by his exposure to indigenous meditative and healing rituals one begins to understand how artistically his techniques can be described as abstract. We also further understand this in one of his comments on his creative process.

 My art is a symbolic language of an abstract thought. I use patterns, lines, symbols and colour to find a contemporary South African expression. I see myself as part of the timeless tradition of celebrating the human godliness, from the first rock painting to the present time and beyond. I am interested in using art as another element of alchemy, where through it, you can evoke and even heal certain emotions.”

His most recent solo exhibition Man Of The Hour’ was curated in collaboration with Asisebenze Art Atelier and Studio Nxumalo at Keyes Art Mile in Rosebank, Johannesburg. Having

been the first solo exhibition curated after a while for Mnisi, the art community who understood the impact of his work and continuously followed him was excited at the opportunity of viewing some of his latest works.

“Curators of Man Of The Hour Ashraf Jamal, Ivy Rihlampfu and Refiloe Mnisi together with guests looked forward to once again being challenged by his creative signature seen in his fused symbols,

geometry, and Abstract Expressionism which echo knowledge only known far beyond the physical realm. However, looking at the theme of the 10th edition of the art fair, “The Notion Of Time”, and the titling of his most recent solo exhibition, “Man Of The Hour”, one can’t help but imagine how his presence at the fair goes far beyond the physical. But perhaps is a moment in time when the Spiritual realm and the physical coincidentally meet,” says Asisibenze Art Atelier in a statement ahead of the art fair.

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