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Artist Profile

Molokeng

Billy Molokeng

b. in Alexandra Township 1949

Billy Molokeng’s artistic career began almost inadvertently when his parents died at a young age. Forced to support himself, Molokeng began selling drawings and later paintings. He was eventually sponsored to study art by a patron who recognized his talents, and now works primarily in oil, watercolour, gouache, conte, pencil and charcoal.

Molokeng’s early work was very much informed by the day-to-day living conditions in the Alexandra Township. Like many of his contemporaries painting in the township manner, Molokeng focused his attention on the interaction between people, filling his compositions with figures and often caricaturizing them.

In work of the late 1980's, such as The Sangoma Rituals of Peace, The Mountain People, and Ndebele Women Dancing, Molokeng turned his attention to traditional African practices. His work also changed stylistically, with the figures often portrayed as iconic and decorated with intricate and rich patterns. His works are becoming increasingly abstract, though the human figure is still discernible as their principal element. A versatile artist, Molokeng has also designed tapestries and made leather sandals and belts.

Molokeng has participated in several group exhibitions from 1971 onwards, both in South Africa and in Israel, Germany, The Netherlands, Greece and Italy. He is also known as "Billy Africa" in the music industry, composing and singing under this name since 1980.

SOLO EXHIBITIONS

1968: Dorkay House, [Braamfontein, Johannesburg]

1979: Lidchi Art Gallery [Johannesburg]

1980: Braunschweig, West Germany
Lidchi Art Gallery [Johannesburg]

GROUP EXHIBITIONS:

1974: Canadian Embassy [Johannesburg]

1974: Gallery 101 [Johannesburg]

1974: Lidchi Art Gallery [Johannesburg]

1974: Herbert Evans Gallery [Johannesburg]

1976: 2nd International Art Fair [Tel Aviv, Israel]

1980: Group shows in Athens and Rome

1981: Republic Festival Art Exhibition [South Africa]

1989/90: African Encounters, Dome Gallery [New York], Alex Gallery [Washington], Knight Galleries International [Toronto]

Grants and Awards:

1981: Republic Festival Painting Award
AAASA; Echoes of African Art; SA Panorama

Bibliography:

1992: Images of Man: Contemporary South African Black Art and Artists, by E.J. de Jager, published by Fort Hare University Press: 2-page feature