Speelman Makwa Mahlangu
( 1958 - 2004 ) 

6 November 2004
 by Andries Loots

On the 4th of November 2004 our Art Community again lost one of their finest sculptors and artists,  Speelman Mahlangu

Born in Germiston,  Gauteng in 1958,  Speelman's imagery is distinctly African. He was always interested in South Africa’s homecoming to the African continent and the timeless realm of icons of traditional life. Ancient mythology and African folklore helped to create a communication rather than confrontation. A strong reference to symbols and patterns from Ndebele murals and Egyptian hieroglyphics is evident in his work where the theme varied from an exploration of spiritual, mythical ideas of a world to come to traditional African rituals, pots, human figures, calabashes and drums emerging from semi abstract shapes. 

He studied drawing and sculpture at the Kathlehong Art Centre between 1977 - 1980,  and was recognized as a brilliant sculptor with a very unique style which would follow in the footsteps of his predecessors Sithole, Kumalo, Legae and Dumile. It was because of his sculpture that the art community first took note of the young artist. Sadly financial restrains steered him away from sculpture and he became more focused on his painting and collage works. 

When I met Speelman about 10 years ago in his garage studio in Katlahong, I convinced him to have his old sculpture pieces, of which many were badly damaged,  cast and to properly edition and sign each work. He was very excited and a long lasting relationship was born. The subsequent success and demand for his sculpture was such an inspiration that he finally scaled his work into larger format. Things improved and he recently built a new home with his own studio in Randvaal.

During 2003 Speelman started producing sculpture again and created some magnificent new works, some sadly never completed before his untimely death. 

His work is taken up in various private collections in South Africa and abroad and can also be viewed in the following corporate collections:

Johannesburg International Airport, Mural 3m x 1.5m
The Frankfurt Museum of Ethnology
University of South Africa
BMW Art Collection
SASOL Art Collection
University of the Witwatersrand
South African National Gallery, Cape Town
Pretoria Art Museum
Price Waterhouse Coopers Pretoria
South African Embassy, Germany

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