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DEATH OF BAFANA MKHIZE (article first published : 2003-06-21)

The Durban arts community has been left the poorer by the untimely death of sculptor Bafana Mkhize at the age of 45. Widely acknowledged as one of the finest sculptors to come out of KZN, Mkhize's works are represented in major public collections including those of the Durban Art Gallery, the Killie Campbell Museum, NPA Museum Services and the Tatham Art Gallery. He also had a dedicated following overseas.

While best known for his sculpture, the artist was taught drawing by George Msimang and executed a number of lively signwriting commissions for major Southern African brand names. A self-taught sculptor, Mkhize depicted images of rural life and biblical events, working chiefly in indigenous Tamboti wood.

He had numerous successful solo and joint exhibitions to his credit, including participation in the 2002 FNB Vita Crafts Exhibition (Pretoria), the 1995 Music for Africa Exhibition (African Art Centre), and the 1993 Spiritual Art of Natal Exhibition (Tatham Art Gallery, Pietermaritzburg). In writing about the latter exhibition, the U.S-based magazine, African Arts, described Mkhize's sculpture, Jonah, as “small in size but monumental in scale.” “Its vigorous upward movement conveys a sense of Christianity triumphant,' the publication states.

In speaking of his late friend, Njabulo Hlongwane, artist and exhibition curator at Durban's BAT Centre, says: “Bafana's work was outstanding and he served as an inspiration for many aspiring sculptors. Although he was a quiet man, his work, particularly his Biblical interpretations, was a powerful expression of his convictions.”

Bafana Mkhize was born and buried in Lamontville, outside Durban. He is survived by his partner and a son.




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