It is fascinating that an artist, who was living in a shelter in Johannesburg as little as 10 years ago, has become such an international success. Wakaba Mutheki has been dubbed “The African Van Gogh” by the media and has developed a strong and loyal following of collectors both locally and abroad.
Wakaba was invited to exhibit at the United Nations in Geneva and was commissioned by SAB to produce a painting that captures the essence of their premium label, Pilsner Urquell.
With no formal art training, this talented young artist is creating a major stir amongst South African and International art collectors alike. Wakaba boasts sell out shows in New York and Philadelphia and has traveled and exhibited extensively both locally and abroad.
It is often argued that Wakaba’s lack of formal art training has given his work an attractive roughness and integrity of its own. His works are uniform in their power, each having the gift of capturing a mood with such honesty, so as to literally stop the viewer in his tracks.
“Having lived in a shelter in Johannesburg, surviving from the sale of empty Coke bottles, I experienced and learned to understand poverty and the harsher side of life. These experiences have taught me to treasure life and have inspired me to recreate this love of life through the medium of art.
This love of life clearly shows itself within my paintings as a raw energy. I have no formal art training and have therefore never been taught how to instill this “power” in my pieces, it simply comes naturally.
I have heard artists say that their painting takes much from them; however it is as easy and as necessary to me as breathing or talking. I don’t need to spend much time thinking and planning my pieces; they are quite simply inside me, and literally force themselves from me, onto the canvas.
I have traveled throughout the world, Dubai, U.S.A, France, throughout Africa (19 countries) and made it my passion to study and learn from other cultures. The Cape is a vibrant, creative and an incredibly beautiful area especially rich in culture and traditions.
Wakaba is an extremely versatile artist and works in various mediums including oil, acrylic and interesting textures made from mixed media such as Hessian. His works can range from modern contemporary to ultra realism.
Since 2001 Wakaba has taken part in numerous exhibitions including various in the United States, the United Kingdom and all over South Africa. He has developed a strong following of loyal collectors and his work has developed from strength to strength.