Here’s a South African artist whose works celebrate dark skin, since he’s drawn by the candid innocence of black children, especially those belonging to rural South Africa. He’s Johannesburg-based Nelson Makamo.
Makamo, born in 1982 in Modimolle in South Africa’s Limpopo province, displayed exceptional artistic aptitude since childhood itself. Such was his passion for art that he decided to make it his career. So, it wasn’t surprising that he enrolled in a three-year printmaking course at Artist Proof Studios in Johannesburg to hone his artistic skills.
Makamo uses all mediums for his works, such as oil paints, watercolors, charcoal, acrylic, and ink. He also employs silkscreen and monotype printing techniques. The end result is astounding charismatic faces of South African children. He considers himself to be a narrator of what he encounters daily and explains it thus, “I document each day visually because for me each day is a blessing, being able to capture movements and feelings of people who live around me.”
It’s not surprising to see Makamo’s feelings being reflected on the innocent and hopeful faces of children. His optimism is also reflected in the laughter and confidence on their faces. He prefers children as his subjects because they embody peace and harmony, and an eternal joy that is yearned by all. He depicts the simplicity of life through a child’s perspective.
Children are not Makamo’s only theme, he also depicts the dizzying dynamism of the city of Johannesburg through his art, as also themes depicting urbanization, migration, the transition from childhood to adulthood and the like. His simplistic style provides the viewers with universal experience and makes them relate to his works.
Today, Makamo’s artistic talent is celebrated across the globe and he has held many solo and group exhibitions around the world in countries like the US, France, Germany, Italy, Scotland, The Netherlands, and the UK, in addition to his own country, South Africa. His works are also part of the collections of the leading global brands, such as Georgio Armani, etc. His art has also figured in leading publications of the world.
Makamo enjoys a fan following of over 120,000 on Instagram alone.