Nelson Makamo: Raising the stakes in African art portraiture – the next big thing?

We have described his art on social media as “an eclectic mix of the classical and the modern, portraiture and abstract.  In a word, perfection.”  We maintain this view.

Makamo is a Johannesburg based artist whose humble beginnings in the Limpopo province have been overcome by an unrelenting work ethic and a raw, abundant talent. He is currently represented by the prestigious Everard Read Gallery and his work has received the gilded nod of acknowledgement by the African art cognoscenti in London where his portraits are on display at the Gallery of African Art in Mayfair.

So basically every person is born with a gift,” Nelson said in an interview in 2016.  “Some take forever to discover that, some are blessed enough to discover that early

Souls of Azania Series (2017) – Nelson Makamo

Collectors of his work purportedly include Giorgi Armani and the affluent elite of South Africa, but his feet are firmly on the ground.  In an interview last year with Brand South Africa, he said “I never proudly said so and so has my work because I think it’s unfair to those who would truly connect with the work beyond the price tag. You may find that the work is not even hanging in their house that it’s in storage. Every now and then I try to see if I can make it possible for the ordinary person to view my work.”

Souls of Azania (2017) Series – Nelson Makamo

What Makamo accomplishes so well in his artwork, is a marriage of the familiar with the new.  His drawings and paintings are technical masterpieces, but it is the overlay of colours (often randomly splattered  across the piece or emblazoned on an accessory such as glasses) which provide the modernity in his pieces.  The colours bring, what would otherwise be a classical portrait, screaming into the abstract art of the 21st century.  A twist of the abstract; just enough to give the art world something to salivate over, but leave enough familiarity for the general public to enjoy his work too.