Mandisi Mncela

Mncela is an ancestral-spirit artist that speaks constantly about the degradation of morality within cultures. He speaks through his work with humorous sarcasm and intertwines racial and political tensions in his work to let his audience decide whether any or all are to blame for human degradation. Mncela is a revolutionary of our time who states his opinions through his body of work with a sleight of hand and thought, with confidence and bravado.

Mncela explores his personal experience of contemporary youth culture in an urban environment, while being torn apart from his ancestral culture – he experiments with its connections and disconnections, utopian projections and ever-present shadows of ancestral spirits. He specializes in paintings and is currently exploring and bursting into installations with mixed mediums. His abstracted figures are inspired by brokenness, humor and / or the characteristics of humanity bending rules, twisting ethics and truth.

He creates art from his lifestyle, loudly, yet he is a timid, soft-spoken fellow who needs encouragement to dance like his pieces. The confidence he creates by teaches us to relook at him from his inner self than on his shy yet evasive surface. His work walks a line between existentialism and originality, touching on a range of themes including history, psychology, religion, racial and sexual identity amongst his generation.

Mncela’s use of random applications of colours and shapes, connected yet divided by lines, are an intuition and emotions hustling and bustling in his spirit. “My works interpret visions that l believe are messages from my ancestors”

He, like his ancestors, does rituals and celebrations on his Eastern Cape land. His deep understanding of the celebrations of the coming rain, the solstice, the harvest, makes him one with his own ancestors. Mncela’s work co-habitats nostalgia, grapples with the present and a desperation to carry both into the future and that keeps us glued to his work as a mystery of his and our existence. His works continue to be an appeal to the social and economic distancing of both the rich, the powerful and the weak.

The body of works proposed for this showcasing is a bold exploration of shape, identity, and fluidity, brought vividly to life in a rich array of materials including sand, wool, sticks and buttons on canvas. Mncela draws not only on his life but also on his immediate family history and African mythology, while playing with the duality of land ownership, identity and beauty epitomised by the human figure - as a storyteller to existence and the origin of man.

Mncela’s life, lived between the Cape townships, squatter camps and Eastern Cape rural areas (ezilalini) for more than twenty years have been environments that have shaped his expressive style through challenges and questions around his spirituality, and the introduction of religion.

1977 -
Nationality: Eastern Cape, South African
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