Mustafa Maluka (1976)
‘Cats drink champagne and toast death and pain …’, 2001

mixed media on canvas, 183 x 133cm

signed, dated and inscribed with title on reverse

These works are part of a series of identically sized canvases which intersperse abstract imagery with portraits of imaginary people who are heroes in the eyes of the artist, even though they do not represent specific individuals. Maluka seeks out images in the media of people who have an aura, a presence, and uses these as points of departure for creating his portraits. The mythical appearance of the subjects is achieved through the layering of the surface: the images evolve over a period of months with repeated application of thin layers of paint. Interestingly, the portraits of men invariably have more clearly defined facial features than the portraits of women; the explanation Maluka provides is, ‘I can’t really claim to feel what they feel and see what they see ...’ Maluka began working on the series during his six-year stay in Amsterdam, and further works in the series will be exhibited on his first South African solo show in seven years, to be held at Michael Stevenson in May/June 2005.

Maluka held two solo exhibitions and was included on numerous group exhibitions in the late 1990s in Cape Town prior to his sojourn in Amsterdam. He returned to South Africa in May 2004 and was awarded the Tollman Award for a young artist the same year. For more information on the artist’s painting and his ongoing research, see

© 2005 Michael Stevenson. All rights reserved.